The Retail Shelf: The Underutilized Secret Weapon of Shopper Engagement and Loyalty

The Covid-19 pandemic, national labor shortage, and record-high inflation have driven grocery retailers to invest in technology and practices that limit how customers interact with their stores and employees. This includes self-checkout, which limits customer and employee interaction, and online grocery ordering, which limits the customer, employees, and whole store to almost no interaction at all. While these are more than worthwhile investments for grocers and their success, it does not address the customers who prefer to shop in-store, look for the best deals on items, and generally want to interact and engage with your store and brand. A study recently found that 77% of shoppers still prefer to buy perishable food and beverages in-store. Additionally, another study found that due to inflation, 79% of shoppers are actively looking for discounts while shopping, and 68% had consolidated their driving trips. 

This leads us to three conclusions: 

  1. A large percentage of shoppers still prefer to shop in-store. 
  2. Many shoppers are looking for the best deals and discounts in store aisles. 
  3. Shoppers are looking for one or two stores to remain loyal to for all of their shopping needs.  

While it may seem like a challenge for grocers to appeal to customers who are looking for one store with great discounts and an above-and-beyond in-store experience to remain loyal to, one answer to attracting and retaining these shoppers lies within investing in something that all grocery retailers already have: their shelves. 

The shelf edge in your grocery store presents a blank canvas of opportunity to interact and engage with shoppers, present discounts and emphasize important product information, and even improve the availability of items to help build customer loyalty. This can all be done while also seeing numerous benefits to your store operations by implementing solutions from TRUNO and our digital signage partners at Displaydata and Vusion Group.

With that in mind, I would like to dive a little deeper into not only the benefits that digital signage provides to your customers, but also other solutions and practices that help utilize your shelves to improve customer retention and loyalty. 

The Benefits of Digital Signage Don’t Just Apply to the Retailer, But Also Extend to the Consumer 

Digital signage such as electronic shelf labels (ESLs) has become a hot topic in the world of grocery retail, and for good reason. They ensure accurate and reliable pricing at all times, provide retailers with pricing optimization and agility, improve productivity, eliminate the labor and material costs that come with physical signage, and much more. However, while these are the main benefits that are frequently associated with ESLs, they all focus on the benefits to the retailer and don’t discuss how they also improve customers’ shopping experiences as well. 

The latest ESLs present new and engaging marketing opportunities at the shelf edge. While there are still simple black-and-white, paper-like options, there are also ESLs with full-color displays that allow eye-catching images, brand information, discounts, and more, all displayed on the shelf edge. They also allow ways for you to interact with your customers by displaying QR codes that can lead to additional product information, digital coupons, and more. Some newer ESLs even have NFC readers, where the shopper can simply hold their phone near the label to access these curated pieces of information and deals.  

When new and exciting technology like this is implemented, it also adds to how customers perceive you and your store’s brand. While it may not be the most elegant way to describe digital signage: it’s also really cool. Many customers will think holding their phone near the label to get a digital coupon is impressive and will think more highly of your store. Additionally, many customers are more likely to embrace tech-savvy retailers who implement digital signage due to it enhancing price accuracy among your store’s products. 

The large percentage of shoppers who still prefer to shop in-store and are looking for the latest deals and discounts are essentially looking for a sense of discovery and a feeling of being rewarded for their trip into your store. Marketing at the shelf edge with digital signage empowers these shoppers to interact, engage, and discover while rewarding them with pertinent information, discounts, and coupons.  

Keeping Your Shelves Stocked is Half the Battle of Customer Loyalty 

While digital signage is a great solution to market and engage with customers who are in your store and browsing your aisles, getting these customers to come back can sometimes be a challenge for retailers. With shoppers trying to cut down on trips to multiple stores, building customer loyalty is something that is at the forefront of many grocers’ minds. A study conducted recently about “Phantom Inventory,” or when there is a discrepancy between stock listed on retailers’ systems, and what items are actually in stock in store negatively impacts sales and loyalty. The study more importantly found that 24% of shoppers said that shelf gaps would make them abandon shopping and not buy any items at all, and 30% said that poor stock availability would make them completely stop shopping or shop less with that grocer. These are significant numbers that can hurt retailers’ profitability. Fortunately, there are simple practices that can be implemented to cut down on these problems. 

While it may seem obvious, making sure that your shelves are clean, have no obvious gaps, and have everything in the right place are all great practices to improve customer loyalty. I just recently went into a store to buy an item that can range from $20 to $150, but over time, other customers had moved each of the different brands and models around on the shelves to where I had no idea whether I was holding the $20 item or the $150 item, which caused me to abandon my shopping mission altogether. This is a common problem in nearly every store, but can be drastically improved by having your staff check for these occurrences while stocking and cleaning your shelves. 

Additionally, just being conscious of these statistics is one of the best steps to take. Knowing that poor stock availability and mislabeled products could cause a quarter of your current customers to shop somewhere else is enough of a deterrent to do everything you can to keep your shelves stocked and tidy. 

Real-Time Data Drives a Competitive Advantage by Helping Keep Your Shelves Stocked 

While these practices are necessary to improve customer loyalty, there are even further steps that retailers can take to improve their on-shelf availability. One solution is Vusion Group's Captana, an on-shelf camera that constantly monitors your shelves. This gives retailers the ability to view their shelves in real-time to gain information such as when sales are slowing down on a particular product. It can even trigger automatic re-orders when a product’s stock is low.  

Another solution to help retailers improve not just their on-shelf availability, but also drive sales is TRUNO’s own business intelligence platform - TruView. While this may not seem like an obvious solution, TruView empowers grocery retailers to better understand when and why things are selling. This includes viewing sales, transaction history, and important trends at the press of a button. This lets users see when to re-order products that are nearly out of stock, and also gives insight into how to better optimize where products are placed on their shelves to promote and drive sales. 

Don’t Forget to Invest in the Technology that Engages Shoppers Where They Are Most: Your Aisles  

While many grocery retailers have recently implemented necessary solutions such as online grocery pick-up or delivery, they should not forget about implementing new solutions for customers who prefer to shop and spend more time in-store. With in-store shopping not going away anytime soon, and more and more people looking for one or two stores with the best discounts and deals, there has never been a better time to invest in improving where your customers spend most of their time in your store: your aisles. 

While new solutions such as ESLs may have high initial startup costs, if implemented correctly, they can pay for themselves in just two to three years. While there are certainly other solutions and processes that retailers can implement to improve shopper engagement and loyalty, the added benefits of improving your store’s operations with digital signage and utilizing real-time data, show that your shelves are a great place to start investing in. 

Let TRUNO calculate your ROI on implementing Digital Signage and   Real-Time Data Solutions Today



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