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Grocery’s True Competition


by Gerry Hays, DinnerCall Founder and CEO

competition raceCustomers today want speed and innovation. While grocery retailers used to maintain a secure front through their physical location, that’s not all it comes down to anymore. Needs must now be met outside of the store, as well.

Hidden competitors are everywhere. And grocery retailers can’t hold the mindset that their only competition is other retailers in their trade. The reality is that there are two quiet competitors they need to out-execute if they plan on maintaining and growing their customer base.

These two challengers are concentrated on two areas of the market that could potentially steal significant profit from grocery — meal-ready commerce and warehouse commerce.

Gone are the days of large weekly grocery buys for a week’s worth of dinners. Today’s culture demands instant gratification and convenience. Quick and easy meals are now the go-to, and because of that, grocery retailers have to capitalize on the opportunity to cater to this new culture. If they don’t, they will lose out on billions in revenue potential.

Meal Ready.

Although they’ve been around for a long time, the restaurant industry has been experiencing rapid growth lately. Restaurant spending recently passed grocery sales for the first time, and the grocery industry must start strategically competing with restaurants to take back share.


The option with the least amount of work for the maximum benefit will always prevail. So, when faced with going to a grocery store for an hour or spending only a few minutes online, the latter will win out most of the time. Customers have recently warmed up to the idea of waiting a day or two for products to be delivered directly to their home, disregarding that the items are shipped from a warehouse.

Although they’ve moved into click-and-pick and delivery choices, just offering these options won’t seem to cover the gap. Grocery retailers should be ready for anything when it comes to resource allocation. Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos is more than willing to invest anything it takes to make its grocery delivery system more accessible and profitable than traditional grocery stores. And Amazon won’t have trouble leading the pack in the grocery space, as the company hires some of the smartest people in the world.

Take a look at these two ways the grocery industry can come together to compete against these hidden competitors:

Tap venture capital investors to help with innovation.

The world is moving at the consumer’s speed. Retailers do not have the upper hand in this regard, and must base their enterprise value on their ability to adapt to that speed. If the grocery industry leverages venture capital-backed companies, they will be able to introduce cutting-edge services just as quickly as Amazon.

Redefine dinner.

The potential opportunity for grocery stores in 2016 is that they can make their dinner options convenient, predictable and a better value than drive-thru options. The fast-food industry rakes in over $100 billion in dinner sales each year, but if grocery retailers could harness mobile commerce and build a well-oiled execution system, they could pull around 10 to 20 percent of those sales into their space.

The grocery industry has been around for over 150 years, and even in this changing space, it’s not going anywhere any time soon. But it’s now time for them to truly thrive in what they do best — and they can if they nail down their real competitors and beat them at their own game.


Gerry Hays

Gerry Hays is the founder and CEO of DinnerCall, a public benefit corporation founded in 2015 out of Indianapolis. DinnerCall’s premier initiative is TheBillion Family Dinners Challenge – a social advocacy venture that aims to bring families back together at the dinner table. DinnerCall will eventually serve as a mobile commerce platform for providing consumers with affordable, convenient and healthy meals.