How Retailers Can Win in the Age of Convenience

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UK retail sales experienced their “worst June on record” according to the British Retail Consortium. Small surprise then that retailers and brands are testing and trialling new ways to drive growth says the UK's Tom Moore.

We see the future of shopping strongly steered by convenience.

The UK food and grocery convenience market are set to outperform food and grocery as a whole by 2022, which is expected to grow over the same period by 0.9% reports Global Data. 

These predictions are reinforced by customer behaviour. Time-poor, digitally-enabled and infinitely-inspired, people are hungry for fresh and arresting experiences. 

There are a number of ways to optimise retail strategies for convenience. We have identified four.

Premium redefined

A strategy of ‘purposeful premiumisation’ to meet demand for speed-scratch solutions and restaurant-ready-to-consumer food with premium products.

Shoreditch-based Raw Store with an emphasis on artisanal, selling only quality organic, diet-specific or local produce is actively innovating in this space. Plant-powered ‘allplants’ delivers chef-made premium ready meals right to your door on a weekly basis. 

Mintel 2019 predicts that convenience stores will increasingly consider more premium but fresh ranges with holistic ingredients. And this seems to be the case. Tescp has unveiled high-end convenience ‘Finest stores’ in a bid to evolve ahead of competitors and boost profits. 

Top Up Shopping

Cater to the trend for shopping focused purely on meals for the few days ahead. 55% of shoppers claim to visit a convenience store for a top-up mission.

To meet multiple, small-scale shopping, retailers could focus on ‘all-day-needs’ and stock ranges to fulfil different parts of the day. Nielsen HomeScan identifies that spend per life-stage differs on a weekday to a weekend, so understanding which shoppers shop when, and flexing promotions and off-shelf space accordingly, will yield results. 

Amazon ‘Just Walk Out’ stores cater to top-up shopping. Walk in, grab ready to eat options and walk out. Amazon’s own quick home-cooked meal kits offer the ultimate convenience choice, with ingredients and instructions to prepare a meal in 30 minutes.


Develop hyper-local strategies. Location, location, location really matters.

With 38% of UK shoppers visiting a convenience store as they pass by, being local is critical to success. So too is leveraging data to understand local shoppers and tailoring ranges accordingly.

Nike uses local data to stock shelves and offers seamless shopping in its LA flagship. The Speed Staff stock a floor based on items selling best online in the local area. The Nike app recognises when people enter the store and delivers on-the-go access. Customers reserve items, scan products on mannequins, request their own size, and check out without having to queue.

In the US, Wawa, the northeast convenience chain, released its private Winter Reserve Coffee Stoutin collaboration with Pennsylvania-based 2SP Brewing Company. Wawa’s partnership with the community-based brewer highlighted the popularity of local limited-edition products, demonstrated by the huge pre-release event turnout.

Convenient Design

Prioritise ‘convenient design’.

Products and packaging designed for immediate consumption, small and sustainable such as loose goods at a ‘re-fill station’ pioneered by convenience chain East 17 - work well. Eat 17 has rightly become known for supporting local suppliers and striking a clever balance between convenience retail that feels local and personable with scalable growth. Nestlé recently launched single use ‘box bowls’ cereal eaten straight from the box – just add milk. What’s more, the packaging is 100% recyclable with the inner part of the box retaining moisture.

Of course, no retailer can afford to underestimate the profound challenges that exist in our cut-throat, multi-channel landscape. But make no mistake, those retailers who best meet today’s convenience consumers’ desires will be best-positioned for future success.

Click here to see the article on Retail Week.

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