Post-COVID Supermarkets?

Agilence, Inc., a data and analytics reporting company, recently conducted a survey of decision-makers in the grocery industry about how COVID-19 has impacted their business, how they’ve managed this change, and what plans they have in place for a post-pandemic world.

Among the current practices that most retailers plan to continue long-term post-COVID are:

  • Curbside pick-up (75%)
  • Sneeze barriers at checkout (60%)
  • Cleaning of carts per use (50%)

The practices many plan to continue for 3-6 months post-pandemic are:

  • Associates fitted with PPE (62%)
  • Six-foot separation at checkout (60%)
  • Specialized hours for seniors (45%)

Interestingly, 87% of respondents said they think “safety & cleanliness” will be an important component of their marketing/brand message over the coming year.

Developing or enhancing proprietary online food delivery service was also identified as a priority by most respondents, and 93% said they plan to increase their spending in IT over the next year. Below is a graph indicating the types of technology initiatives in which grocers plan to invest:

investment categories
Anticipated Supermarket IT Investment by Category 2020 – 2021

Top Stories on How COVID-19 is Impacting Supermarkets

A recent SupermarketNews article shared the latest news on retailer and consumer response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Among the top stories were:

  • Of shoppers polled by Acosta, 38% said they stocked up on groceries at the start of the COVID-19 crisis and would do so again if another shutdown occurs.
  • More than 4,000 of Walmart’s 4,700 U.S. stores will expand their closing time from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. by Aug. 17.
  • Two of the largest retailers are expanding their delivery options, including beyond grocery items, in their bids to challenge Amazon’s e-commerce dominance: Walmart & Kroger
  • Whole Foods launches free virtual home economics classes,

The article also features a slide show depicting new and emerging news related to the pandemic’s impact on the grocery retail sector.

Read full article…

Pandemic Fuels Online Food Shopping

Canadian food and drug retailer Metro Inc. has experienced a coronavirus-fueled spike in demand for online food shopping, which experienced tripled-digit growth this quarter.

The SupermarketNews article quoted Metro President and CEO Eric La Flèche, who said, “Our food business experienced high levels of sales, as the large portion of restaurant and foodservice sales transferred to the grocery channel.”

Certainly the “new normal” has had an impact on businesses of all types, forcing organizational leaders to find new ways of providing value and an enhanced customer experience, as noted in our previous post.

Read full article…

The Shopping “Experience” at Walmart?

For some time now, retailers of all types have been using their imaginations in an effort to provide a memorable and pleasant shopping experience as they do their collective best to ward-off the allure of on-line shopping.

A good example of this was shared in a recent SupermarketNews article, which reported that Walmart has introduced “Walmart Drive-In,” a movie theater experience for families created in partnership with the Tribeca Film Festival. The “drive-ins” will make their world premiere on August 14 in the parking lots of 160 Walmart stores across the country, and will be free.

The article goes on to explain the current plan for the outdoor cinemas, which will run from August 14 through October 21 with 320 showings of popular, family-friendly movies.

Read the full article…

Ideas for Improving Online Grocery Shopping

Markus Stripf is the CEO and co-founder of Spoon Guru, a digital health innovation partner to leading grocery retailers around the world.

Citing statistics that indicated online grocery sales in the U.S. grew to $5.3 billion in April, compared to $4 billion in the previous month, and that online grocery will grow by 100% this year, Stripf has some specific thoughts on how retailers can improve online grocery shopping.

His list of “fresh ideas,” which were featured in a recent SupermarketNews article, included:

  • Offering customers designated delivery times to improve convenience
  • Providing more curated experiences based on consumers’ dietary preferences
  • Utilizing the power of personalized nutrition technology to enable healthy food exploration
  • Transparency to better enable purchasing decisions on specific dietary needs
  • Review and reinvest to ensure the simplicity and usability of user interface platforms

Read the full article…

Albertsons Named SupermarketNews Retailer of the Year!

In a recently posted announcement, SupermarketNews has named Albertsons Cos., the nation’s second-largest supermarket operator, as its Retailer of the Year for 2020.

“The past year has seen Albertsons successfully go public, spur growth and innovation in strategic areas such as e-commerce and private brands, and refresh its store base, among other initiatives,” the article stated.

The piece went on to identify key results of the chain’s efforts, which included improved customer loyalty and market share gains.

Read the full article…

4 Ideas for Supermarkets in the New Normal

The pandemic has changed the way people shop and what they care about most, says strategy-business.com. And most likely for the long term.

So, as a result, retailers’ strategies must also change.

“Whether the trip they’re looking to win is inside a store, curbside, or at a customer’s front door, emerging from the crisis on a strong footing will require retailers to plan around this new normal. Those that are best at sensing demand and responding quickly with engaging and brand-defining experiences will “win the trip” and see the highest return on their investments in those experiences, or return on experience (ROX),” the article said.

The piece goes on to suggest that retailers have likely seen growth in demand for certain categories, including food and beverage, personal care and wellness, home improvement, and pet care, as most of life’s activity has shifted to the home. Consequently, extra care (and inventory) in those categories will be necessary. Supermarkets also have an opportunity to “compete for trips — real and virtual — and reinforce their brand leadership by offering shopper resources, such as recipe ideas and educational content, in these categories.”

The authors suggest these four key ways that retailers can compete in the new marketplace:

  1. Improve and personalize targeting.
  2. Reinforce consumers’ category interests.
  3. Invest in targeted subscriber acquisition.
  4. Reimagine loyalty programs.

Read the full article…

Reinventing Grocery?

An interesting e-book, “Reinventing Grocery: The Timeline to the New Normal,” was recently released by co-creators Agilence and Date Check Pro.

With no sales or marketing messages, the publications shares straightforward content about several key issues affecting the supermarket business, such as:

  • How former “slow moving” categories may be worth further investment
  • The role Associates play in future customer acquisition & retention initiatives
  • Why cleanliness & safety protocols will arise as a key driver to new sales
  • Why a familiar industry adjacent to the grocery industry may emerge as a direct competitor
  • The DNA of the New Shopper

More information about downloading the e-book

Voice of the Customer

Supermarket shoppers appear to be optimistic about things “returning to normal” according to a recent study by Acosta Research, thought the results vary a bit based on certain demographics. They also believe that some of the new in-store behaviors being put in place, such as hand sanitizing and mask wearing, may become permanent.

According to the study, 51% of shoppers polled expect life to return to normal in less than six months, while 29% believe it will take more than a year to return to pre-coronavirus behavior and daily life.

Summarized in a SupermarketNews article, the study also indicated that many of the current safety protocols have become second nature to shoppers, and that Millenials and Southerners are the most optimistic about a return to pre-Covid life.

43% of those surveyed believed their state was “reopening” at an appropriate rate, while 39% said steps toward reopening were being taken too soon. Only 13% said their state’s reopening plans were moving too slowly.

A bit closer to the aisles, 68% of shoppers reported using a hand sanitizer before or after shopping, and the same percentage reported wearing a mask while shopping. The study found mask usage has doubled since early April (most popular among shoppers in the Northeast) and nearly half of shoppers (49%) reported shopping during off-peak hours to avoid crowds. The use of self-checkout has risen as well with 34% of shoppers choosing to do so.

Not surprisingly, shoppers are over-buying select items depending upon expectations of supply shortages. The current (as of mid-May) item of concern is meat, as opposed to the paper products buying frenzies during the first quarter. Of those who are “stocking up,” 34% said they were doing so because they are “eating at home more often” and 31% said the reason was fear of shortages or an attempt to reduce the frequency of shopping trips. 35% noted higher prices,

Innovative Improvements Continue to Emerge in Supermarkets

PREPARING FOR THE “NEW NORMAL”

Today’s Wall Street Journal reported that Koninklijke Ahold Delhaize NV is accelerating development of a robotic cleaning arm to help workers clean stores and process orders more effectively due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All the researchers said this Covid situation is so urgent, we see a direct application for our work right now because there’s scarcity of people who can work in stores,” said Bart Voorn, Director of Data, AI, and Robotics.

Of course the grocery giant is only one of many organizations taking innovative steps to initiate improvements in how the operate.

The article quoted Paul Daugherty, Accenture PLC’s group chief executive for technology, as saying, “Hyper automation is coming. We have now only automated 15 to 20 percent of what we can do.”

As noted in previous posts, necessity is, indeed, the “mother of invention” in supermarket chains across the globe; and combining technology with tried-and-true process improvement methodology is the likely path toward preparing for the “new normal” in food shopping.