Industry Voices

How supermarkets can better serve SNAP beneficiaries

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PV Boccasam is CEO of Orchestro, which powers demand execution for consumer-driven supply chains. 

Today, one in seven Americans relies on food stamps, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), to feed themselves and their families. The average benefit is around $135 for the month, about $4.50 a day – less than what it costs to buy one cheeseburger quarter pounder meal at McDonalds. Not surprisingly, most find it incredibly difficult to sustain themselves on such a tight budget.

The SNAP program is a literal lifeline for 14% of America, and now it’s time for retailers and grocers to step up to the plate to help.

All told, the SNAP program represents a $76 billion market and a huge opportunity for retailers to become a reliable source of affordable, nutritious food. When a grocery store can make good food available and easily accessible – that’s when they find themselves on the right side of customer loyalty.

Here are three ways that retailers can optimize their store to better suit the needs of SNAP beneficiaries:

1. Ensure product availability of essential foods
Make sure you know when your state distributes SNAP benefits. While many states distribute all of the benefits on the first day of the month, others distribute it by last name or ID number. Take a look back at your POS data to see what items in your store are most popular during the week of food stamp distribution. Look at inexpensive, long-lasting staples like rice, pasta, bread and canned goods. It’s important to keep these products in stock and readily available on the shelves for when your shoppers are most likely to purchase them.

2. Encourage supplier collaboration


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There are certain products that consumers tend to buy together: salad and dressing, soup and crackers, peanut butter and jelly, etc… Most of these foods are healthy staples that should be available when SNAP recipients do their shopping, so why wouldn’t you encourage your suppliers to work together to promote their products together? They’ll increase sales, consumers will get a discount and retailers increase their basket size.

 

3. Improve the timing of promotions

We touched on it in the point above, but well-timed promotions are the best mutually-beneficial change that you can make. Discounts and promotions such as BOGO allows your customers on SNAP to stretch their money further – and position you as store that will provide them with good value when they need it the most.

Grocers are in a unique position to help improve the lives of 14% of America. Regardless of who sets your food budget, we all need to eat – shouldn’t we try to make it as easy for everyone?


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