Is The Convenience Economy Convenient For Retailers?

Just when retailers are finally getting up to speed on omnichannel, they face a new challenge: The Convenience Economy.  It’s hard to argue with convenience, right? But for retailers that means finding new ways to get products and services to customers even faster, and finding the right partners to make this goal a reality.

Today, retailers can choose from a variety of partners that can help facilitate their convenience objectives, including UberEATS, Hurrier and GoButler, to name just a few. A number of other services, across industries, are outlined in this article.

The question for retail companies is: Are we set up to be able to offer these types of on-demand products and services? Harkening back to the Daily Deal service that destroyed many small businesses due to over-demand, retailers need to be sure they are set up to “deliver” on this promise.


I recently had a conversation with Chris Bryson, CEO of Unata, about this topic. He outlined a three-step approach to getting up to speed with this trend: Integrate, Engage and Iterate.

  • Integrate back-end systems so you’re working with one version of the truth;

  • Engage with the modern consumer by designing real-time, relevant experiences; and

  • Iterate those experiences in new and different ways.

The first step, Integrate, is foundational. It’s the least thrilling part of the discussion but it’s an absolute necessity for these types of initiatives, as well as other omnichannel strategies. “It’s really about getting all systems to talk to each other to create a unified view of the customer,” Bryson explained.

Step two, Engage, is the beginning of the fun part: figuring out which types of products and services your target customers are looking for.

Finally, step three is a challenge: Iterate those experiences in order to surprise and delight your customer base. It may be just one offering or it could be several, largely defined by each retailer’s product selection and the makeup of the target customer base.

Is Now The Time To Embrace The Convenience Trend?

We know retailers are operating on tight budgets and often take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to new trends, products and services. But today’s consumers are not patient. They expect to be able to access the products and services they want faster and faster. “It’s all about everything being at your disposal at the click of a button, primarily driven by mobile technology,” Bryson noted.

Retailers need to be ready to jump on the bandwagon or be left in the dust by the competition. Often they can take the lead from Silicon Valley companies and other industries that are more willing and able to test new solutions and strategies. Uber, for one, launched UberX just 18 months ago and it has “taken the world by storm,” Bryson said.

To help retailers hone their focus, Bryson discussed five ways to expect the Convenience Economy to break into retail:

  1. A continued focus on mobile to create an ‘anytime, anywhere’ experience, enabling online browsing on the go, ordering ahead, paying ahead, curbside pickup, delivery, and more.

  2. More use of wayfinding and location-based services: just like Uber, users want to be notified when their order is ready, or if their delivery is near. Delivery management software like OnFleet & Bringg enable these capabilities.

  3. Targeted offers through beacons and proximity-based services (like Gimbal) to consumers when they are nearby or in-store, to inspire them to buy at just the right moment, making their grocery trip feel easy and successful. 

  4. Digital Coupons & Offers from your mobile phone, allowing the consumer to clip and redeem coupons digitally, while in store. No more cutting up paper or printing coupons.

  1. Order ahead and delivery for catering and prepared foods. This is a huge opportunity for grocers that service lunches with their specialty sections.

As consumers we’re all getting caught up in the desire to be able to get what we want when we want it, at the price we choose. So it will be fun to watch how this plays out in the retail industry over the next few years.

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