Tag Archives: supermarket shopping trends

Order lunch from the supermarket?

A recent SupermarketNews article announced Instacart is helping supermarkets better compete with restaurants with the rollout of Ready Meals, a new prepared meal ordering and delivery service for grocery stores.

According to the article, chains such as Publix Super Markets, Kroger and Ahold Delhaize USA’s Giant, Food Lion, Hannaford, Stop & Shop and Martin’s are offering customers the service via the Instacart app’s Ready Meals Hub, a new in-app destination for prepared foods.

Deliveries are made to homes or offices in as soon as 30 minutes, Instacart said.

Another good example of supermarkets finding innovative ways to provide a better customer experience!

5 Grocery Trends in 2021

The grocery business has been, as we all know, greatly impacted by the pandemic and shifts in consumer shopping habits and demand. The return of more grocery shoppers in-store has retailers breathing a sigh of relief, but supply chain issues and the associated challenges of getting stock into the store are concerning.

SupermarketNews recently published a report listing five key trends that have emerged this year:

  1. Fresh is back on track! With bakery and deli sections reopening and rebounding, things look bright on the perimeter.
  2. Supply chain issues linger, impacting center store most and increasing the likelihood of Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) out of stocks.
  3. Beverage sales are up, with single-serve beverages making a comeback as consumers resume their more active lifestyles.
  4. Snacks have become more popular as all-day noshing buoys the category both in-store and online. It seems younger consumers are more likely to snack for lunch.
  5. Wellness and weight control have had a positive impact on demand for vitamins and supplements, but flu remedies are lagging.

Stores of the Future?

crystal ball

The pandemic has had a significant impact on how people shop, but these buying habits are quickly changing. As a result, today’s supermarket leaders are imagining what tomorrow’s stores will look like.

Based on information published by SuperMarketNews, five key product categories that have been impacted the most include:

  1. Produce. Consumers have been moving toward local produce in supermarkets for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has increased demand as customers are more inclined to help out their local producers in a time of need while feeling better about food safety when produce is coming from suppliers they know. That has driven more stores to beef up their efforts to offer local produce.
  2. Bakery. Fresh bakery departments were among the hardest hit sections of the grocery store, as due to the pandemic people were afraid to purchase anything that others could come in contact with. At the onset of COVID-19 bakery sales dropped considerably as shoppers pivoted to purchasing longer shelf-life items and focused on buying staples versus indulgence products. But since last summer and fall, retailers have ramped up safety and protective measures throughout their bakeries and are working to entice customers back.
  3. Meat. Possibly its position as a “comfort food” has kept meat sales at a high level throughout the pandemic. However, as people are going ‘back to work’ it is likely that they will have less time for meal planning and preparation, so value-added innovation with respect to meal prep is going to be a very important factor going forward. Frozen meats also became more popular during the pandemic, and many grocers expect consumers to continue buying this option now that their comfort level with it is high.
  4. Deli. Sales of deli meats have been very high during the pandemic thanks in large part to more lunch occasions at home. However, some shoppers have shied away from the deli area because they have been reluctant to stand around other people while waiting their turn. Consequently, ‘grab and go’ options have become more popular. Finding ways to make people feel comfortable and safe has been a priority, and the current availability of vaccines is expected to ease the problem.
  5. Frozen foods. Pandemic-related efforts for stocking up on grocery items drove a big increase in frozen food sales over the past year, but sales are expected to dip back to more normal levels going forward.

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.”

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…

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.”