Gros agrees that interaction is a vital part of the equation when it comes to bricks-and-mortar retailers competing with online. “At Philips Lighting, we talk to millennials, who are obviously very tech-savvy and internet connected. But they are still human beings and want to interact with other people,” she says.
And what about recipes created by celebrity chefs and promoted on TV programs? Ghafoor observes they have created a lot of excitement with consumers. Even a show such as the popular BBC period drama Poldark has created a buzz around the food, inspiring recipe books. “Everyone is taking pictures of meals,” he says. “We want to create that inspiration in the store.” The idea is that when a food item is scanned, or when you’re in front of the item, the shopper can be sent instant recipe suggestions. In this way, retailers become part of the whole process of helping us shop and preparing a meal.
Offers and promotions are part of the story too of course, with increasingly sophisticated segmentation. Loyalty cards mean that we should receive offers that are particularly relevant to us, based on our previous shopping experience. We’re used to these techniques being used online, but can they be replicated in the supermarket aisle? “That journey is just starting,” says Ghafoor.