- A new survey commissioned Phononic, a refrigeration company, found that consumers want a more innovative supermarket shopping experience, with half saying grocery stores haven’t figured out how to use technology like other retailers.
- Of the more than 1,000 adults surveyed, one third said they’ve tried a food or meal delivery service. Twenty-five percent said they tried it once and won’t use it again, while 13% love it and use it regularly.
- Overall themes from the research show a desire for a more convenient shopping experience, more intelligent in-store technology, and more options related to refrigerated and frozen foods.
Almost half of the shoppers researchers spoke with say grocery stores need to get with the times. Forty-eight percent said grocery stores haven’t changed in decades, and they need to modernize.
This sentiment may imply that many consumers are unsatisfied with their local grocery store. More than 50% of respondents said they don’t like going to new retailers — not out of loyalty, but rather because they don’t know where to find anything.
Many shoppers also felt that the shopping experience should change to make it more convenient. Eighty-nine percent want a market that makes buying groceries easier.
The findings indicate consumer desire for a more modern, tech-savvy grocer, and one that makes shopping more efficient. They also indicate what many retailers have known for years: Most grocers are behind the ball on technology and innovation.
Grocers can start by making it easier for shoppers to find specific items they’re looking for. This category seems to carry a great deal of weight with respondents, with 85% saying stores should make it easier for them to find things. They also want to see more items paired together, like chips and dip or wine and cheese. Lastly, the checkout aisle needs an update, with 59% reporting they would be more likely to pick something up from this section if there were more healthy options.
Leading grocers have gotten the picture, and are addressing their checkout processes while also adding key store technology. Kroger is expanding its Scan, Bag and Go program, which allows shoppers to skip the front end entirely. Just last month the grocer announced it’s adding digital shelf displays to 200 stores in 2018. This new tech would alert shoppers if there are items on their list in the aisle they’re walking down, what shelf they’re on, and if they’re on sale.
Walmart has also put its considerable resources to work to keep up with consumer demand. Along with its own skip-checkout program, in December the giant retailer announced that it’s startup incubator, Store No. 8, is developing a technology-heavy Amazon Go-like store that uses computer vision and cashier-free checkout.
There are a number of challenges traditional grocers face delivering on consumer demand for new technology. First, it’s an expensive process. Second, there is no guarantee that the type of tech developed will resonate with shoppers and boost sales. And third, there is the risk that these changes will alienate older, core shoppers who will turn elsewhere for a more familiar shopping experience.
The answer, though, is not ignoring the problem. Tops Friendly Markets just filed for bankruptcy protection, and a Bloomberg report claims that Bi-Lo will soon do the same. Both chains have struggled against more innovative competitors.