Tag Archives: supermarket shopping trends

Supermarkets Offering Innovative Improvements & Solutions

Necessity is the mother of invention, the adage says. Certainly, we’ve seen many examples of innovative thought and practical improvements put in practice in supermarkets throughout the U.S. during this pandemic.

For example, to promote social distancing, H-E-B was among the first to offer its customers a deal that to keep them out of lines and away from large crowds. Their stores across Texas provided free, next-day curbside ordering and pharmacy deliveries to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

“We are working diligently to provide solutions for seniors and Texans in need to access food and supplies with limited public interaction,” the company wrote.

They and many others also shortened store hours to better serve customers and to give team members more time to restock more quickly-depleted shelves, thus increasing product availability.

Stop & Shop was among the first to offer designated shopping hours for seniors, a step taken to help create a safer and more comfortable shopping environment for those most susceptible to the virus. Many have followed…

Albertsons was the first major company to announce they will install plexiglass “sneeze-guard” barriers at checkouts in its 2,200 stores… Walmart and Kroger have made similar commitments… Whole Foods also confirmed it’s in the process of rolling out sneeze guards at all locations to protect customers and Team Members at the registers.

Additional examples of best practices and suggestions were recently shared by the The Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, DC that conducts research into new ideas for solving societal problems. Among their recommendations are the following, which many supermarkets have put into practice of their own accord:

“Employers need to implement immediate steps to reduce grocery workers’ exposure to COVID-19 by expanding access to personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves and end any restrictions on workers wearing them. While supplies of protective masks and gloves are extremely limited across the country, employers and policymakers should prioritize PPE for grocery workers as they become available.”

“Employers should provide adequate cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer, regular opportunities for workers to wash their hands, and frequent equipment cleaning.”

“Stores should shorten hours and limit the number of customers at any given time.”

“Grocery stores should implement additional measures to protect workers and enforce safe spacing of customers.”

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.

Despite Mid-west Closing of Peapod, Ahold Expects Robust e-Commerce Growth

Ahold Delhaize, whose supermarket brands include Stop & Shop, Giant Food, Giant/Martin’s, Food Lion and Hannaford, recently announced that they will be closing the Midwest division of its Peapod online grocery arm.

However, the company also noted that the Peapod Midwest closing isn’t expected to have a significant impact on the previously announced goal to drive 30% U.S. e-commerce growth in 2020.

According to a SupermarketNews article, Ahold plans to focus on markets in which they already enjoy a strong presence. Going forward, Peapod Digital Labs will support online grocery delivery and pickup service for all Ahold Delhaize USA’s supermarket brands. The article also noted that Ahold “aims to establish those brands as the leading omni-channel grocery retailers in their market areas.”

“To continue our strong track record of sales growth and market share gains, we are accelerating our growth and expanding the leadership positions of our businesses in our East Coast markets,” Ahold Delhaize USA CEO Kevin Holt said. “This move will enable us to fully focus on markets where we have strong store density, leading market share and a longstanding heritage of customer loyalty.”

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

New Level of Customer Service Goes “Beyond” Home Delivery of Groceries

Walmart is expanding the online grocery shopping experience by going “beyond” home delivery. According to a recent SupermarketNews article, certain Walmart stores are delivering groceries not just to more homes, but also inside them.

This new service will be launching in the fall when associates will deliver groceries right to a customer’s refrigerator, or to other designated areas inside shoppers’ homes, such as garages or pantries. Various methods are incorporated into the process to ensure security and to allow customers to actually view the delivery from remote locations.

“Online grocery remains a meaningful contributor to e-commerce growth,” Walmart’s Chief Financial Officer Brett Biggs is quoted to say in the article. “Customers continue to really appreciate our grocery pickup and delivery offerings as we scale them across the U.S., …they want product faster than ever before, and Walmart is the best-positioned in the industry to deliver grocery same-day.”

3 Strategies for Attracting “Moms” to the Supermarket

As Mother’s Day Approaches, a study showed that most moms prefer to shop at the supermarket versus online.

According to research recently completed by Valassis Communications, Inc., a Livonia, Michigan-based company that provides media and marketing services, when it comes to food purchases, 52% of moms do most or all of their shopping in-store, compared to 27% of dads. But when it comes to health and beauty care items (HBC), only 36% of moms opt for brick-and-mortar, compared to 24% of dads. Equally as revealing, the study showed that over half of moms want better solutions to save more time (53%) and money (58%).

A recent SupermarketNews article reported these findings, and also suggested three key strategies supermarket chains might consider in order to continue attracting “moms” to their brick-and-mortar locations:

  1. Provide a mix of savings and convenience. Over one in three moms are increasingly shopping via brick-and-mortar that offer the added convenience of delivery and pickup options. Just over half (51%) always or very often search online for coupons they can use during their shopping trips.
  2. Appeal to the evolving omni-channel shopper. As the digital and physical environments continue to blend, approximately one in five moms orders groceries online for delivery or in-store pickup. And as technology continues to integrate with the path to purchase, over one in four moms now use a smartphone app to scan barcodes as they shop, according to Valassis.
  3. Offer unique experiences. More than a third of moms (36%) have increased their shopping at stores that offer prepared foods/meals versus last year. The same percentage say they are doing more shopping at stores that focus on organic, natural and fresh products compared to last year.

Amazon Leader in Online Grocery Shopping

A recent SupermarketNews article states that Amazon has maintained a dominant position in online grocery retail.

The piece referenced a Brick Meets Click’s May 2018 consumer survey, which found that Amazon captured 30% of U.S. online grocery spending.

The data also showed supermarkets can still grow their online market share, noting that shoppers still visit brick-and-mortar locations more frequently than they place online orders.

The study polled 4,855 adults who do grocery shopping for the household.

Read the full article…

Martin’s Supermarkets Expands On-line Shopping

According to a recent Business Briefs article, Martin’s Super Markets, a mid-west chain, is continuing to roll out of its online shopping service, which they call Groceries To Go, and which is now available at 12 of their 21 stores.

The Groceries-To-Go service costs $4.99 per order, the article explains. The process is also straightforward, as once users go online or download the app (on either iPhone or Android devices) and create an account they simply shop and choose a pickup time, and then pay. Someone at their chosen store then sends an email confirming receipt of the order, and then sends another email when the order is ready for pickup.

To pickup their order, customers simply park in designated areas and then text or call to announce their arrival. A “Personal Shopper” then brings the groceries and loads them into the customer’s vehicle.

Pharmacy prescriptions, alcohol and tobacco products are not available for online ordering, the article said. Log on to www.martinsgroceriestogo.com for more information.

The trend toward online shopping and an enhanced customer experience continues…

“Smart” Supermarkets!

According to an article published on LInkedIn, Wal-Mart recently opened its first “smart store” supermarket in Xin’an Wu Road, Bao’an District, Shenzhen.

We first read about the “smart supermarket” concept in a piece published by AgThentic, a sustainability and innovation consulting firm focusing on the food industry. In a 2016 article, they referenced the increasing popularity of online grocery shopping and click-and-collect services, and predicted the model was set to change how consumers “will do their weekly shop.”

The article went on to say, “Incorporating predictive technologies into the online shopping experience will allow consumers to access discounts on their favorite brands or re-order the same essential items each week without having to individually add them to a cart. These features have huge implications for convenience… By using data collected from your previous purchases, retailers can understand what you buy and how often you buy it, and send you friendly reminders when you’re running low. Say goodbye to the days of getting halfway home and realizing you forgot to buy toothpaste.”

In addition to helping consumers shop with ease, these same practices are also beneficial to supermarkets as they look to manage inventory and reduce food waste. “Consumers expect to see an overstocked display of cosmetically attractive produce,” the article said.  “To compensate, supermarkets throw out up to 40% of food before it even reaches store shelves.”

AgThentic predicted  retailers of the future will use consumer data to understand how to market and sell ‘unattractive’ or ‘imperfect’ produce, citing examples in Australia that are already doing so.

Read the full article…

The e-Trend Continues: Saving Shoppers Time & Money

A recent “10 Items or Lessarticle posted by SupermarketNews identified steps taken by major food retailers that indicate the focus on e-shopping will continue to grow in 2017.

The article states that Wal-Mart Stores plans to have around 1,100 stores offering online grocery pickup this year, and that they are continuing with initiatives built around making fulfillment more versatile and/or efficient, such as offering discounts on online orders picked up in stores, and testing the idea of having store employees deliver orders to customer’s homes on their post-work commutes.

The piece goes on to report that Amazon said it was rolling out “Instant Pickup,” a free service offering its Prime members a curated selection of “daily essentials” available for pickup in two minutes or less. The service is available at five campus locations currently with plans to add more locations soon.

Even no-frills Aldi had issued a statement indicating it was getting into e-commerce for the first time through a partnership with Instacart in three cities.

“Our partnership with Instacart is another example of Aldi expanding our commitment to customer convenience and value,” Jason Hart, CEO of Aldi, said. “We know customers are looking for new ways to save time and money.”

As these new services are being rolled-out, it strikes me that supermarket chains will need to take an innovative approach to refining their work processes to reduce waste and cost.

See related article…about becoming more innovative.