“If you follow the shopper, you will see the future,” said Wendy Liebmann, CEO and chief shopper at WSL Strategic Retail, during a session at the 2021 NACDS Total Store Expo.
Knowing your customer is one of the best methods to prioritize innovation and achieve success in your pharmacy. In a session from the 2021 National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Total Store Expo (TSE), Wendy Liebmann, chief executive officer and chief shopper, WSL Strategic Retail, offered her exceptional insights. She delved into how retailers can meet and exceed the demands of their shoppers to stay relevant in today’s fast-paced retail market.1
Liebmann is one of the leading innovators of shopper insights, according to Steven C. Anderson, FASAE, CAE, IOM, president, chief executive officer, NACDS. Her presentation amassed the latest research, direct consumer feedback, and current revolutions. Through this research she provided context for the latest trends in the retailer space, as well as what we can expect to see going forward.
The notion of boosting online shopping came to fruition during the COVID-19 pandemic, when shopping online became the norm to keep consumers and employees safe. Now, retailers can use online shopping to respond to current consumer demands more effectively. “The pandemic changed the shape of retailing,” Anderson noted. “Shopping occurred in a completely different environment. How and when a shopper decided to shop and how a retailer attracted and provided for the shopper evolved at supersonic speed,” he added.
Retailers and manufacturers alike have taken pandemic challenges by the reigns and maximized opportunities to bring cutting-edge experiences to shoppers, Liebmann explained, but the work doesn’t stop there. “Now, we’ve got to ramp up the way we think about innovating…through the shopper’s lens,” she said.
She shared her inspiring insights on the contemporary shopper, including their growing expectations from retailers. “[Shoppers] are very clear about what they want to achieve in their lives in the future,” she said. “An easier, meaningful, well life. It began to develop pre-pandemic and the pandemic has just ramped it all up,” Leibmann added.
The presentation incorporated interviews from real consumers, highlighting convenience and saving time as key factors in determining a quality retail experience. These elements allow consumers to spend more time pursuing a life that is meaningful to them, as Liebmann stated. “This urgency [of not feeling like] I have enough time…that’s actually not new news,” she explained. “We saw as far back as 2017 shoppers really talking to us differently about shopping,” she added.
Generation Z and millennials are particularly aligned with these notions of saving time and money through the use of technology. But these values don’t start and end with convenience. Liebmann also pointed to stress, which has been particularly relevant during the pandemic, but was a widespread issue prior to 2020. “This notion of stress, even as early as 2014-2015 – we were seeing shoppers tell us…that stress was the number 1 barrier to living a healthy life,” she said. This is especially true for Hispanic and African American shoppers, who experience higher rates of stress, Liebmann explained, as well as systemic disparities in their health care.
Retailers can answer consumer calls for a more efficient, safer and easier shopping experience in several ways, according to Liebmann. Adding more checkout counters and self-checkouts, contactless pay, offering essential products in a convenient location, and curbside pickup, are a few options. “It’s not just these things, it’s everything from virtual reality to payment systems - all the ways people can make their shopping fast, safer and easier,” Liebmann said.
“If you follow the shopper, you will see the future,” Liebmann highlighted.
Check back to NACDS Total Store Expo 2021 on Drug Topics for part 2 of this article as part of our continuing coverage of TSE 2021.