Customer behaviors and choices
The world has changed... again. And will continue to...
A couple of years ago our grocery shopping each week was a ceremony. My wife and I would walk the aisle’s of a store less to shop and more to bond with each other by enjoying the shared experience.
Our usual ritual was to walk the aisle’s of our nearby Walmart and their competing grocery chain Fortinos. These two stores are diagonally opposite each other across the road intersection. Our normal practice was to visit Walmart for two weeks followed by one trip to Fortinos.
A typical basket of goods cost 10% more at Fortinos but we sacrifice the cost to buy stuff that is either not available or better than that of Walmart (and therefore defer buying at Walmart who does sell some Grade B and Grade C material to satisfy their thirst for low prices). Since we also did not want to go into two stores each week, we gladly paid the markup fully knowing we are paying a higher price for the same product at a different store.
The pandemic changed all this and new behaviors came into place.
We experimented with online ordering and curbside pick up at Walmart and Fortino’s (who have a $5 convenience fee for each order)
We tried ordering online at Costco.ca and Amazon.ca (for mostly non-perishables) - Costco’s online pricing markup is around 15% to cover shipping so these were not really the same prices as in-store which we bought at.
We tried Instacart for perishables from Costco Canada at a 20% markup to the Costco prices
We still end up going into Walmart and Costco for stuff that is not available through the online delivery and/or exorbitantly marked up for home delivery and not available for curb pickup.
If it is cheaper at Amazon (including their subscribe and save discounts) we order through there as well.
And we also tried a few other smaller retailer options.
We have settled down to a new behavior with new rules:
Each week to 10-days we make two orders simultaneously by picking the same available time slot for curbside pickup - one each at Walmart and at Fortinos.
We sit down as a family around the large screen family room TV with the Macbook Pro connected via Airplay. This is the new walking the aisle ceremony which brings the family together for 15-30 minutes. People put what they want into the basket
We buy the standard branded products at Walmart - milk, bread, etc.
We pick the products and put them into the two online shopping carts wherever one product is cheaper or on sale - so we stopped paying a markup over either shop for most items.
We pick the better product when we want to, wherever available.
I don’t believe in the sunken cost effect - of ordering everything at Fortinos because we are paying a $5 fee. Though we pay the fee, all we need to do is buy the minimum required there, in order to meet the order minimum and for the convenience of picking up things not available at Walmart (or sub-par product at Walmart)
When sometimes we know that some products run out at one store or the other, we split the order to both stores, so at least one of them deliver it.
We figured out that substitutions were done poorly, so we stopped asking for substitutions unless we know clearly they will substitute a superior product that meets our dietary needs specification when such a substitution happens. And many a time the substitutions have been to a substantial advantage. A trick is to order a cheaper product that often runs out and ask for substitution :-)
And then we drive down at the allocated time and pick the stuff up at both stores in the same delivery hour window.
And moving forward…
And this might continue on post-pandemic, which would raise new questions for us including:
As were are never entering the store, why are we paying for the overhead of the store, its employees, and the space they use? (like parking areas etc.)
All we need is a distribution center with a curb-side pickup and the new stores could be in this form. When will these start to appear?
Why not drive through stores with pickup areas inside the stores?
What are your thoughts on your consumer choices and how will your behaviors be in the future? And how will the world change, again?
Drive Through Supermarket Concept - Animation