Last year, life on lockdown had shoppers stockpiling everyday essentials like paper towels, toiletries, canned goods and whatever they could get their gloved hands on. This increase in demand strained the supply chain and quickly changed both what and how people bought food and drinks.  Online grocery surged and makers and retailers adapted incredibly quickly.

With 95 percent of grocery shoppers using a hybrid online/in-store approach to their weekly grocery list, it’s clear that brands must adopt now omni-channel approach, if they haven’t already.

Although nothing looks anything close to 2019, and in-store demos are mostly a casualty of the pandemic, we do see some signs of life when it comes to in-person retail. Which has us wondering, what now?

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Growth of online sales:

Some insights from Brick Meets Click‘s grocery habits survey:

  • Seventy-seven percent of all online grocery spending went to delivery and pickup.
  • Seventy-eight percent of households engaged with a delivery or pickup service (up from 64 percent in November).
  • Ship-to-home usage rate dropped from 56 percent to 46 percent during the same period.
  • Despite growth in other areas, the overall usage rate in January fell short of the record 76.7 million households that shopped online in April 2020 (at the height of the pandemic’s first wave).

Online grocery to more than double market share by 2025 | Supermarket News

But in-store retail is not dead! Here is an exclusive tidbit from the Foodboro newsletter:

How else will things be different in 2021? Cameron McCarthy of WeStock and Ali Ball, a brand consultant/The Food Biz Whiz, recently hosted a webinar all about this return to normalcy called “Succeeding in Retail Post-Pandemic.” The duo, both food industry veterans, highlighted a few things that brands and makers should keep in mind when formulating their strategies moving forward:

+ You aren’t going to duplicate 2020 sales. Almost everyone increased sales in 2020, whether it be panic-buying or simply trying a new brand because the old one was out of stock. The key instead is to focus on retaining the new customers you found and coming up with a middle ground of sales numbers that’s acceptable.

+ Get back in touch. Many accounts simply couldn’t deal with finding or signing new brands during the peak of the pandemic and in the months afterwards. Now’s the time to hit up those accounts and also, find some new ones, especially in the food service industry such as restaurants and cafes who are reopening and need to stock up.

+ Make your online story part of your brand story. When you do reach out to buyers, demonstrate what you were able to accomplish online in 2020 whether it be an increase in sales (either D2C or online through a delivery service) or even in your fan base. Let the buyer know that online your brand is making waves.

+ Demos haven’t returned yet. The reality is while some areas are already doing food sampling and demos, it’s not exactly common practice. An alternative in-store option is to take on promotions like Temporary Price Reductions or even better, Buy One; Get One which will drive more trial and increase your velocity.

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