The “Grocerant” Could Make a Big Comeback After the Pandemic

Thanks to the massive shift over to ecommerce sparked by the pandemic, retailers are strategizing ways to bring consumers back inside of their physical stores and keep them there. Longer shopping trips tend to mean bigger baskets, which is helpful for new brands that are trying to penetrate a category as well as more established brands that are launching new products.

When shoppers keep their trips short, they are more likely to stick with tried-and-true products that don’t require much thought, while longer trips leave consumers more open to experimentation and gives them time to consider all of their options on shelf. Luckily for retailers, there is another major trend developing right now that just might give them some serious opportunities to draw consumers into their stores for long stretches of time after the pandemic: the shift towards working from home.


Retailers as “Third Places”

Many consumers that started working from home during the pandemic will never return to the office, as more companies come to understand the benefits and cost savings of having their employees work remotely. However, just because consumers are out of the office won’t mean that they will want to exclusively work from home. Many people will be eager to finally get out of the house regularly once they are vaccinated, and retailers have a great opportunity to provide a consistent space for them.

After all, for many suburban consumers, their local coffeeshop is really the Starbucks inside of a Target. For this kind of a consumer, Target could go from a place where they spend ten minutes to grab a few essentials to a destination where they spend whole hours of their workday. Retailers like Whole Foods and ShopRite have experimented with similar “grocerant” concepts, with food hall-style market cafes and other ready-to-eat services.

For all of the conveniences that ecommerce can offer, this kind of away-from-home opportunity is something that they just can’t provide. By positioning their stores as effective third places for remote workers looking to get out of the house for a while, retailers can meet any of the consumer’s needs throughout the day. A morning cup of coffee, a mid-day packaged snack, extra ingredients to bring home for dinner – a single retailer could be there for all of these purchases.

After the pandemic, many consumers will still have the freedom to work from anywhere. If retailers tailor their grocerant concepts to appeal to this type of consumer as a frequent destination, they will have an opportunity to grow baskets, build shopper loyalty, and compete against ecommerce grocery platforms in a real way.  

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