Now more than ever, retailers demonstrating how they support the needs of SNAP shoppers is mission-critical."
The COVID-19 pandemic has created food insecurity for millions of Americans, consumers who are now searching for food assistance and ways to maximize spending dollars.
In 2020, $55 billion of food retail sales were attributed to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Recently, the Biden administration has taken steps to help these shoppers by increasing SNAP benefits for the 12 million families who rely on them by up to20%. At the same time, the USDA has authorized an additional $1 billion per month in SNAP benefits to support recipients in need as a result of pandemic-fueled economic challenges.
With an estimated 6 million to 7 million Americans having applied for SNAP benefits since February 2020, retailers play an even more important role in supporting value shoppers. Retailers can start by emphasizing how their banners’ core values and product offerings can stretch shoppers’ food budgets and provide healthy meal solutions. A retailer’s messaging and assortment are extremely important to SNAP recipients and value shoppers, who are looking to fill their shopping needs, spend within their limited budgets and shop with a retailer who helps them maximize their grocery spend.
As the pandemic fuels online grocery shopping and the online SNAP program grows, the need for retailers to digitally connect with these shoppers has increased exponentially. More than 80% of online shoppers indicate they intend to continue purchasing food and non-food products online in the future, according to Daymon research from July 2020. However, with fewer than 5% of SNAP shoppers able to afford online grocery shopping options due to associated delivery costs, fees and tips, these shoppers are still searching for ways to experience the safety and convenience that online platforms offer.
The newly formed USDA Online Purchase Program ensures the technology and infrastructure needed for accepting SNAP transactions online is safe and secure. Congress has allotted $5 million to the USDA to support the complex technology needed for more retailers to accept SNAP and EBT payments online, increasing e-commerce accessibility for SNAP shoppers. Participating retailers are taking strides to ensure online shopping is fully accessible to the SNAP shopper by waving delivery fees or encouraging click-and-collect as a safe and affordable alternative.
Now more than ever, retailers demonstrating how they support the needs of SNAP shoppers is mission-critical. As regional and national retailers launch their e-commerce SNAP capabilities, it’s important they connect with the SNAP consumers on their websites, apps and digital shelves. Key to addressing these shoppers’ needs is creating a SNAP digital hub where they can learn about the SNAP program and the categories covered by SNAP and find shopping tips for stretching their budget, links to weekly circulars highlighting SNAP-approved items, recipes, digital coupons and curated shopping lists featuring SNAP-approved items.
As more SNAP consumers begin to opt for click-and-collect or delivery, it’s vital to enhance retail websites and apps to ensure SNAP-approved items are easily identifiable on the digital shelf. This can be achieved by adding visual callouts to items, tagging items as SNAP-approved so that they can be easily found in search or through a sidebar filter inclusive of SNAP.
Lastly, as the majority of SNAP consumers have primarily been in-store shoppers, retailers should consider having in-store signage notifying shoppers that SNAP payments are now accepted online and including this message in weekly paper circulars to connect with customers they may otherwise miss.
By providing enhanced and ongoing in-store and online digital support for SNAP participants, a retailer will be seen as a trusted advisor and increase shopper loyalty.