retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal has a story about how, “after years of inertia, U.S. supermarket chains are racing to add online options, such as home delivery and in-store and curbside pickup, to keep shoppers from shifting more of the $800 billion in annual food and beverage spending to e-commerce firms such as Inc. The process is spurring retailers and major food brands to change fundamental aspects of their operations - from staffing and supply networks to the way they organize their parking lots and stores … E-commerce represents less than 5% of U.S. grocery sales currently, but food and beverage sales are growing far faster online than in traditional supermarkets. Forrester Analytics predicts that by 2022, the U.S. online grocery market will total $36.5 billion, up from an estimated $26.7 billion this year.”

But, “at the same time, the online shift has created complications for the physical stores,” the story says, noting that “grocers are remodeling their stores and designing new locations to better accommodate online ordering … Many supermarkets are reserving parking spaces where customers and delivery services can quickly pick up online orders bagged at stores. Some stores have designated checkout lines to ring up larger orders from third-party online grocery-delivery services such as Instacart, while others have created separate entrances for delivery pickups.”
KC's View:
The problem is that this can annoy customers who actually come into the store, and it probably isn’t doing a lot of employee morale, either.

The thing that is really important here is that retailers are recognizing the value of speed … that in the current environment, the last thing you can do is create a committee or hire some consultancy to spend months analyzing a problem that you already knew you had. In the time it takes to do that analysis, you pay not just the price of the consultant, but also the cost of continuing to be inert for that period of time as the competition continues to move forward.