Walmart phone

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Walmart’s approach helps people out at a time when personal finances are tight, and therefore drives loyalty

Some 80% of Walmart purchases are made in-store, yet the grocer attracts 150 million visits to its landing page every week. It’s a sign of our times: even in grocery, shopping habits are shifting to a blend of offline and online, and grocers need to shift accordingly.

Walmart is making the most of its data with a plan to let its media arm, Connect, give brand advertisers better insights and reach Walmart shoppers across multiple channels. A model that will effectively start connecting the online and offline dots for brands to drive retention. And it’s leading the way for other grocers at a critical time: when pockets are being hit hard.

Replicating Walmart’s approach makes a lot of sense on three fronts: it helps people out at a time when personal finances are tight, and therefore drives loyalty; the online/offline hybrid doesn’t have to be complex; and it plays into the framework of how we’re all shopping now anyway, even in grocery.

It works brilliantly as a loyalty lever during the cost of living crisis. Shoppers are looking for savings wherever possible, and nowhere more so than in the weekly grocery shop. By connecting online and offline data, retailers can offer individual discounts on products most frequently searched for and purchased, and add real value for customers.

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Retailers already use online data by recommending add-ons based on what shoppers add to their virtual baskets. Merging this with in-store data gives a more realistic picture of what a shopper right now is buying, what they’re interested in, and perhaps can’t afford at the moment. Using the merged data to drive price promotions, to take one example, means product discounts and bulk buys can be tailored to individual customers, adding real, relevant value.

Delivering this level of insight isn’t as complex as it seems. Walmart started with the fact that its shoppers were using smartphones to research products in-store. Taking advantage of this, through everything from apps to QR codes, utilises tech that’s already ubiquitous through smartphones. It is an effective way of understanding consumer needs in real-time, and making the right information (price comparisons for example) instantly accessible.

The squeezed economy isn’t the only reason for other grocers to follow Walmart’s lead in what it calls amplifying ‘commerce on consumer terms’. It’s a shift that’s been noted by Amazon too, which has announced improved insights for brand advertisers in convenience bricks and mortars, including information on when a customer picks an item off the shelf and then buys later online.

This strategy of mining granular data collected online and offline to build a more holistic picture is likely to supersede the current cost of living crisis. Shopping habits are still in flux, but using multiple channels to browse and buy is becoming a common standard. Now is the time to remove any vestige of barriers between the two.