The Right Questions For Grocers To Ask

Pat Tully

You’re a grocer and you are standing at the entrance of one of your stores: the place where customers first view your products upon walking through the doors.

As you look at the aisles, displays, and counters, you probably have countless thoughts stemming from the larger question you’re asking yourself: 

“What could I be doing differently to increase sales?”

Asking this question opens the floodgates to a barrage of new, more specific questions. It’s essential to know which questions to ask when evaluating the performance of your store so you don’t waste time or money on insights you don’t need. Optimizing your store can be a cost-effective, seamless process if you gather only the information you need, not all of the information you can get.

Through crowdsourcing, you can create broad tasks that point you in the right direction. The smartphone users who complete these tasks ensure the insights you have to work with at every step are real-time and human, allowing you to take action fast. Broad tasks become more and more specific, narrowing the scope of your questions and giving you as granular a view into your store’s operations as possible. The goal is to gradually pinpoint the exact areas that need to be addressed and use customers to figure out how.

Finding the right questions is just as important as asking them. 

Start with the four key areas of your business: the customer journey, customer engagement, retail execution, and competitive intelligence. For each area, we’ll walk through some examples of questions that can easily be reconfigured as insights are gathered.

Customer Journey

“What section or aisle appeals to you first upon entering the store?”

Smartphone users can provide qualitative data on the customer journey that only a human would be able to shed light on. Having visibility into how a customer sees your store through photo submissions and sentiment data lets you see exactly what they see.

Generate tasks that uncover what draws customers to a certain area of your store. Whether it’s a display or a feature of the store’s layout, you’ll be able to find out for sure.

The task, in this case, would ask smartphone users to identify which part of the store drew their attention off the bat. Then it’s time to ask why:

“What appealed to you most about the section you visited first?”

If the reason is a certain selection of products, a promotion that’s being run, or simply placement within the store, then you can theoretically keep asking ‘why’ until you know exactly what you can replicate from this section in other areas of your store to see similar success. After this, you can run that initial task again, using the same network of smartphone users, and see how the results changed to validate what you’ve uncovered.

Customer Engagement 

“What product(s) are you inclined to purchase at this location?”

Customer engagement involves maximizing sales and increasing average basket size by discovering how customers engage with the products on your shelves and what would make them purchase more.

This first question asks the respondent to examine which products are most appealing, most prominently featured, or have the cheapest price. Once you find your answer, you have the ability to dig a bit deeper and find out where shoppers are most likely to stop in their tracks and add impulse purchases to their baskets. So your next question is:

“From Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree, how likely are you to buy these product(s) today?”

If you find that some products are incredibly strong impulse buys, you can take action such as placing the product in multiple areas within the store to ensure accessibility. Running the same task after making various alterations to the placement of products (and A/B testing the results) is a method of crowdsourcing you can use to be exact. Narrowing the scope of the tasks with photo submissions and sentiment data from smartphones can easily maximize the number of impulse purchases on the products you’ve identified. 

Retail Execution

“Would you say products in this location are overpriced, underpriced, or priced appropriately?”

The main objective of a successful retail execution is to gain full visibility into how your stores actually operate on a day-to-day basis. They ensure that all of your pricing, as well as your planograms, are compliant with your brands and that promotions are properly launched. Luckily, instead of being forced to trust that there’s no human error whatsoever in your local managers’ reports, customers can handle these executions for you. 

For instance, now you’d like to zero in on what products are being overpriced at this specific location. So you ask:

“Which products would you say are overpriced in this location?”

And say respondents reported that seafood and meats were heavily overpriced at one of your locations. You can dig a bit deeper through crowdsourcing – send customers to have them complete a task like:

What is the price of seafood and meat in this store compared to the nearest locations?”

You’ve not only gotten more specific in your question-asking – you’ve been led to an area where there’s potentially an issue with one of your retailers.

Crowdsourcing through smartphone users is essentially the gig economy product for your store. Smartphone users provide an ongoing monitoring system that keeps you assured that no matter what else they’re doing, local store managers are arranging their shelves to the satisfaction of the brands you work with.

Competitive Intelligence

“When you shop at other grocery stores, what is the primary reason?”

As a grocer, a thought that likely crosses your mind daily is what your competitors are doing differently to get shoppers in their stores. With crowdsourcing, it’s never been easier to gather so many insights about what other grocers are doing with their stores and their products. 

Say you find that the answer is promotions. Get more specific with a simple task that answers an important question:

“What promotions does Other Guy’s have in the entryway of their store?”

Being aware of the competition is necessary for ensuring that you offer the best option for your customers’ shopping needs. Using smartphone users, it’s as easy to send them into competing stores as it is to confirm retail execution in your own stores. Consistent crowdsourcing lets you keep the competitive edge. Request insights on things like pricing, retail execution, shopper sentiment, and more just by continuing to narrow the scope of these tasks.

Premise is an on-demand insights company present in 128 countries in 37 languages that leverages a global network of smartphone users, or Contributors as we call them, to collect in-store insights for grocers just like you. We crowdsource our insights and provide integral data in all four areas covered above to help grocers improve their stores with the help of their customers. Premise has a range of tasks that lets you start broad, and we assist you every step of the way as you narrow the focus of what you’d like to improve for your store’s continued success.
To learn more, get in touch at www.premise.com/get-in-touch/.

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