Actionable Insights From APT's Retail Practice
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Getting Over Promo FOMO

July 11th, 2017 | Posted by APT in Financial Services | Promotions | Retail - (Comments Off on Getting Over Promo FOMO)

What is “FOMO”? It’s simple: the Fear Of Missing Out. This term has traditionally been used in social settings, for example: “Jane had major FOMO when she was out of town for the summer party, because her whole team attended and it was always fun.”

However, the FOMO epidemic has now spread from social circles to the business world. Many organizations are experiencing FOMO when it comes to optimizing their promotional strategies – or, in other words, suffering from “Promo FOMO.”

Consider an organization that deploys a promotional campaign, first trialing it with a subset of customers to understand its impact. In this common scenario, there is a challenging balance to strike. Executives want to maximize the exposure of the campaign to the most relevant customers to avoid missed profit opportunities. However, the process of using test vs. control analysis to evaluate a campaign requires holding out a group of customers from the campaign in order to have a baseline comparison – meaning that fewer customers are receiving the campaign.

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Cracking the Code: The Importance of the In-Store Experience

July 5th, 2017 | Posted by APT in Manufacturing | Retail - (Comments Off on Cracking the Code: The Importance of the In-Store Experience)

There is an undeniable appeal to shopping without ever leaving your home. As devices like Amazon’s Alexa further shorten the path to purchase, it is becoming increasingly easier for consumers to fulfill their shopping needs online.

The growing competition from online players places greater pressure on traditional retailers to capitalize on one key advantage: real estate. While a majority of online shoppers still prefer to make purchases in physical stores, it is vital for brick-and-mortar retailers to optimize the in-store experience as the process of browsing shifts more and more to online and mobile channels.

To make the most of their physical locations, retailers must proactively take steps to enhance the in-store experience. One innovative way they can do so is through working with their CPG partners to develop new strategies and refine existing ones. Through this collaboration, retailers and CPGs can launch initiatives ranging from sampling and in-store events to live consultations and demos designed to drive shoppers into the store and keep them there, with the ultimate goal of increasing sales.

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Convenience Stores Invest in Their People

June 9th, 2017 | Posted by APT in Retail - (Comments Off on Convenience Stores Invest in Their People)

From major M&A deals to an increased focus on in-store foodservice and beverages, as well as the ongoing evolution of convenience stores from pit stops to destination spots, convenience retail is evolving – and operators must continuously innovate to keep pace.

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Circulars Join the Digital Movement

June 9th, 2017 | Posted by APT in Retail - (Comments Off on Circulars Join the Digital Movement)

The broad reach of the digital revolution now includes the ubiquitous grocery circular. In the first half of 2016, the number of digital coupons available grew by 23.4 percent, while the number of mobile coupon users in the U.S. rose by almost 18 percent. While traditional print circulars are not likely to disappear completely, many grocery chains are now developing circulars specifically for digital and mobile platforms. Wegmans, for example, introduced a mobile app, allowing customers to clip virtual coupons, while Safeway offers a weekly online circular.

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Consolidation Considerations: How Retailers Can Minimize Losses from Store Closures

May 12th, 2017 | Posted by APT in Retail - (Comments Off on Consolidation Considerations: How Retailers Can Minimize Losses from Store Closures)

During the 2008 recession, 6,200 brick-and-mortar stores closed. In 2017, total store closures are expected to surpass that number, climbing to over 8,600.

Retailers are undeniably facing headwinds, from the growth of e-commerce and online competitors, the decline of the shopping mall, and shifting consumer preferences, among other factors. Yet, while the process of browsing and shopping increasingly shifts to online and mobile channels, consumers still make the majority of purchases in brick-and-mortar stores. Many retailers are already re-evaluating and consolidating their physical store networks in response to these challenges. But how can they drive maximum traffic to their remaining physical stores, and minimize losses from closures?

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Convenience Stores Becoming Convenience Destinations

April 21st, 2017 | Posted by APT in Retail - (Comments Off on Convenience Stores Becoming Convenience Destinations)

Convenience retailers are increasingly challenging the notion that customers should only visit their stores to fuel up and grab snacks, especially in light of the rise of car-sharing and hyper-efficient cars. Some, like Kum & Go, are adding features like growler stations. Others are investing in services to drive customers into the store, like Amazon Lockers and USPS goposts, which have been popping up in numerous QuikTrip and 7-Eleven locations. These innovations are no longer just nice to have. They are becoming necessities for profitable brick-and-mortar retailing.

Some convenience stores are also emulating restaurants to draw traffic, adding outdoor seating areas, free Wi-Fi, or drive-thru windows. For example, Duchess designed a prototype store concept with a greater focus on foodservice, including made-to-order menu offerings, an in-store dining area, and touch screen ordering options. Similar to kiosk ordering, some convenience retailers are also adding at-the-pump food order screens.

Taking on these types of capital-intensive projects presents both great opportunity and great risk for executives. If managed correctly, they can drive significant profit growth. However, some of these programs may not pay off. With each new initiative comes questions regarding their implications. For example, which categories should retailers downsize to create space for self-service lockers? Will introducing a made-to-order foodservice concept drive enough incremental transactions and add-on purchases to cover the associated costs? And which locations will respond best to at-the-pump ordering screens?

The best way to answer these questions is to first pilot each concept in a subset of representative locations, then closely monitor their performance. This approach allows convenience retailers to ascertain whether the initiative warrants further investment, based on incremental traffic and sales. Overall, there are three key questions executives must answer before making decisions on broader rollout.

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New Grocery Players and How to React

April 18th, 2017 | Posted by APT in Retail - (Comments Off on New Grocery Players and How to React)

News that limited-assortment grocery chain Lidl plans to open its first U.S. locations this summer has likely already catalyzed grocers’ efforts to refine their strategies in preparation for the competitive incursion. Recent reports show that even fellow European grocer ALDI – which has already established a presence in the U.S. – is also reacting, embarking on a remodel initiative across markets, including those where Lidl is expected to open its first stores.

European discount grocers are not the only disruptors grocery retailers are facing. As other grocers successfully innovate in response to increased competition from online, convenience, and big box players, all grocery chains must evolve to keep pace.

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The Importance of Testing in a Post-Merger Environment

April 12th, 2017 | Posted by APT in Retail - (Comments Off on The Importance of Testing in a Post-Merger Environment)

In recent years, there have been many mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the retail industry. Examples range from Albertsons’ merger with Safeway to Kroger’s acquisitions of Harris Teeter and Roundy’s, to Alimentation Couche-Tarde’s acquisition of CST Brands and Chilean operator COPEC’s acquisition of all MAPCO stores. In a post-merger environment, there are inevitably competing business priorities; this period is one of the most critical times to cross-pollinate ideas from both organizations and identify where there are winning strategies. Failing to evaluate the best ideas across the organization can be a big missed opportunity for many companies.

In post-merger upheaval, it is often unclear which strategies will be most effective moving forward, and implementing any new program or initiative involves both a financial and reputational risk. Merely continuing along the path of the acquiring company can lead organizations to overlook key ways to refine programs across the business. By learning from both companies’ existing programs, successes, and past approaches, the new company can optimize its go-forward strategy and realize the initial investment thesis.

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The Next Level of Localization

April 12th, 2017 | Posted by APT in Retail - (Comments Off on The Next Level of Localization)

“Going local” has been a key ambition for retailers for years now. Recently, some retailers like Target and A.C. Moore have been using new store formats as part of their localization strategy, focusing on smaller-format neighborhood stores. Others are differentiating themselves in more nuanced ways, altering merchandise allocation in each store or group of stores to meet the needs and preferences of local shoppers. Nike, for example, has localized space allocation in some stores – for example, their L.A. store includes a greater assortment of clothing to appeal to soccer fans and a trial zone with fake grass to test out cleats, due to the sport’s popularity locally.

While localization has been front-and-center in the industry for some time, retailers still have a significant opportunity to drive profit with improved strategies to meet local market demands. There are many components of a successful localization strategy, including curating marketing and pricing strategies to a region’s demographics and competitive environment. However, one often-overlooked facet of an effective localization strategy is a connection to the store space planning process. Understanding how to tailor merchandising strategies for local market demands can ultimately lead to significant profit improvement and a better customer shopping experience.

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HelloFresh, Goodbye Grocery and Restaurants?

April 11th, 2017 | Posted by APT in Restaurants | Retail - (Comments Off on HelloFresh, Goodbye Grocery and Restaurants?)

Since 2012, the meal kit industry has grown, with more than 150 companies competing for their share of the growing market. The rise of brands like HelloFresh, Blue Apron, and others is representative of shifting consumer preferences: Meal delivery kits address key demands for convenience and fresh, healthy options. For grocery and restaurant chains to avoid losing market share as this segment grows, they should respond to meal kit players by innovating, with particular emphasis on convenience.

While meal kit companies are disruptors, they have not completely encroached on grocery and restaurant territory – although they are popular among some consumers, they have yet to gain widespread popularity. They also do present some drawbacks for consumers, namely cost. Purchasing the ingredients for a home-cooked meal at a grocery store, or even eating out in some restaurants, is generally less expensive than many meal delivery kit subscription prices. For example, the average HelloFresh box with three meals for two people is $69, which comes out to $11.50 per person per meal – more than they may spend at many fast-casual restaurants, and more than they would spend on grocery store ingredients.

As meal delivery kits become increasingly popular, grocery stores and restaurants should experiment to prevent share erosion from convenience- and fresh-oriented consumers. This approach empowers grocery and restaurant chains to determine which innovations will drive maximum value in maintaining market share.

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