Category Archives: Grocery shopping trends

2020 Saw Big Growth in Omnichannel Shopping!

A recent SupermarketNews article reported that omnichannel consumption grew by 50% this past year, and nearly half of all consumer goods purchases were made via e-commerce.

The report was based on new research from Nielsen.

Not surprisingly, both food and nonfood products have seen marked shifts in omnichannel shopping since the COVID-19 outbreak, and the number of shoppers who deem themselves as “heavy” or “exclusive” online shoppers for everyday items jumped 133% from September 2019 to September 2020.

The article went on to quote Nikhil Sharma, vice president of North America consumer analytics at Nielsen, who said, “Within the U.S., new behaviors have emerged that retailers and manufacturers must acknowledge, accommodate and swiftly act on — especially as online shopping habits begin to solidify. While we do expect a return of some kind to pre-pandemic habits, consumers will not be returning to a pre-pandemic retail environment.”

Order History Tool Most Popular as Consumer Preferences Shift
The article also pointed out that, when making online transactions, 29% of consumers polled by Nielsen found the order history tool to be the most helpful feature when shopping for nonfood items.

In a final statemen Mr. Sharma added, “Undeniably, consumers have more choices than ever in their path to purchase, meaning as consumer needs and preferences continue to evolve, it is crucial to have an omnichannel strategy in place to sustain and grow momentum in 2021.”

More Technology for Food Shoppers

Our previous few posts have focused on technology in supermarkets, used both by the stores themselves and the shoppers.

Along the same trend, as reported in a recent SupermarketNews article, Walmart will literally launch a “technology-driven” pilot in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2021.

The new plan involves a partnership with self-driving car company Cruise to operate an entire fleet of all-electric delivery vehicles powered with 100% renewable energy. The project will support the retail giant’s initiative to reach zero emissions by 2040.

As part of the pilot, customers can place an order from their local store and have it delivered, contact-free, via one of Cruise’s all-electric self-driving cars.

“Technology that has the potential to not only save customers time and money but also is helpful to the planet is technology we want to learn more about,” said Tom Ward, senior vice president of customer product, Walmart U.S.

“This year, we’ve had our foot on the accelerator expanding our pickup and delivery services, so customers can get the items they need quickly and safely,” he continued.

So, the trend continues…

Digitized Food Shopping?

89% of U.S. grocery shoppers now use a smartphone at the store says research from Acosta.

The data was published in a recent SupermarketNews article, which stated the current figures marked an increase when compared to the 67% who said they used smartphones while shopping in 2015.

“Mobile-assisted grocery shopping is here to stay and offers a great opportunity for brands and retailers to truly meet the needs of today’s shoppers,” said Colin Stewart, executive vice president of business intelligence at Acosta. “By delivering an end-to-end approach from mobile recipe/meal planning and list making to e-commerce and an in-store experience that is enhanced by mobile, they can not only attract more customers but also engage with them in new and meaningful ways, during the pandemic and beyond.”

Some additional data that might be of interest includes:

  • 58% of consumers polled report being comfortable using digital and online tools to help with food shopping, compared with 42% in 2017 and 35% in 2015
  • 70% reported using a grocery retailer’s app while shopping
  • 34% of shoppers said they view their grocery store circular online
  • 30% of grocery shoppers said they redeem online/mobile coupons downloaded to their smartphone, up from 24% in 2017 and 19% in 2015

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?