Category Archives: Grocery shopping trends

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

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…

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…

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.

Kroger’s Innovative Step-up

Spring-boarding from our previous post on emerging innovations within the supermarket industry, Kroger has exemplified such behavior by launching new new drive-thru test sites for coronavirus.

According to a recent SupermarketNews article, the chain will be offering free drive-thru testing for COVID-19 at 50 locations in more than 12 states by the end of May, and expects to have conducted up to 100,000 tests by that time.

So far, Kroger’s healthcare arm, said it has performed almost 8,000 tests in 30 locations.

The article goes on to quote Rodney McMullen, Kroger Chairman and CEO, as saying, “As part of Kroger’s commitment to help America reopen safely, we are proud to help expand access to COVID-19 testing as a partner in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Public-Private Testing Partnership.”

Not only is the drive-thru aspect of Kroger’s testing model innovative, but so too is their methodology. Their sites use anterior nares or mid-turbinate nasal swab tests, which are designed to increase safety. The tests are completed in just a few minutes using self-administered test kits, and results are expected within about 48 hours.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Bill Taylor, co-founder of Fast Company and the author of Simply Brilliant: How Great Organizations Do Ordinary Things in Extraordinary Ways shared some great examples of how bad times have brought out the best in people and organizations.

Possibly this free testing being offered by Kroger will be remembered as such in the future?

Order for Pick-up Best Practices

A recent SupermarketNews article referenced the fact that the gross majority of people in the US own a smartphone and that this has led to a “NOW” economy where almost everything consumers want is available at their fingertips or on-demand. “These expectations provide a great opportunity for grocery brands to grow revenue if they can provide the pickup experience that customers are looking for,” the article said.

The piece went on to cite data from Rakuten Intelligence indicating that “Order for Pickup” has grown 2.5x faster than delivery over the last 3 years and that over 60% of consumers having tried curbside pickup or “click and collect.”

To capture those valuable and loyal mobile-first customers, grocers must be prepared to offer the right products as well as a top notch experience.

In fact, the article referenced a study by PWC highlighting that 73% of customers point to experience as a critical factor in their purchasing decision.

The following 5 best practices were then identified as critical to a successful Order for Pickup program:

  1. Focus on logistics and infrastructure. Clear signage, dedicated parking and pickup areas will reduce wait times and positively impact the customer experience.
  2. Leverage data to personalize the experience. The lower the wait time and the more personalized the experience becomes, the higher the customer perception of the overall shopping experience.
  3. Optimize technology to alert employees when customers arrive to pickup their orders.
  4. Provide dedicated employee training so they can provide high-levels of service.
  5. Promote your program to drive awareness and usage.

Pros & Cons of a 2020 Grocery Trend: Delivery

A recent article published by datecheckpro.com cited a Coresignt study indicating that “36.8% of internet-using adults polled bought groceries online in the previous 12 months, up from 23.1% in their 2018 study. That equates to approximately 93 million online grocery purchases using U.S. Census data.”

Interestingly, according to SupermaketNews, the majority of these purchases came from Walmart and Target, followed by Kroger. Walmart and Kroger have more than doubled their online grocery shopper numbers over the past 12 months, their report said. This alone translates to adding about 20 million and 6 million online customers, respectively. In addition, and as we all know, Amazon has become active in selling groceries. So, all things considered, it’s a fair assumption that online grocery shopping and home delivery are here to stay.

It’s also fair to say that, before long, consumers will demand online shopping and delivery from smaller independent stores as well.

For retailers, there are pros and cons to offering this service.

According to the article, top reasons in favor of offering online ordering and home delivery are:

  • It satisfies consumer demand for convenience.
  • It enables a retailer to get on the bandwagon of what is clearly a trending service in the industry.
  • Since the transactions are all digital, retailers get more insight into customer shopping habits and preferences – good data!

On the negative side:

  • Delivery is not easily accessible for all grocers, especially smaller stores in more rural America. Bigger chains like Walmart, Target, and Kroger have success with their grocery delivery services because they have the financial, operational and people resources to handle the complicated logistics.
  • The first “con” leads to the fact that smaller grocers will likely need to outsource the delivery portion of the equation, thus losing a good deal of the control associated with that piece.
  • Costly initial investment

Read the full article…

The BYOD Trend in Supermarkets: Pros & Cons

Pros & Cons of Emerging Trends

According to a recent article published by datecheckpro.com, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), a technology-driven trend, is permeating the retail space with its promise to simplify operations, boost grocery stores’ bottom line, and bring in more millennial employees.

The article cited a survey by MarketsandMarkets that said BYOD policy adoption in North America increased from 36% in 2017 to 50% by the beginning of 2018, and the trend is expected to rise again in 2020.

Simply stated, these policies allow employees to use their own devices (i.e., phones, tablets, laptops) at work to complete their job responsibilities.

Pros & Cons
Like most things, there are both pros and cons associated with BYOD. On the positive side:

  • The store can save overhead on purchasing technology
  • Convenient customer service opportunities for sales associates on the floor who use their phones to answer customer questions and to quickly research answers to questions they can’t answer themselves such as dates on store inventory
  • Saves employees time because they tend to be more familiar with the device that they’re using (instead of having to potentially learn a new operating system provided by the company). On average, workers save 81 minutes per week.
  • Increases employee engagement; by using their own devices, and 78% of workers feel BYOD supports better work-life balance.

On the negative side:

  • Risks of incorporating external devices onto the store’s network
  • Distraction if team members use their devices for personal reasons
  • Overworked networks