Advancements in technology, shifting consumption habits and the influence of big brands - all these have (and will continue to have) an impact on the way consumers shop. To combat the battle for consumers' time, retailers are tailoring their in-store and online experiences to make life easier and engage with customers on a personal level. Below are some of the latest and emerging trends to make the grocery shopping process fast, affordable and fun:
- • Bye bye checkout lines: To save consumers’ time, many stores – from Loblaw to Walmart – have streamlined the shopping experience with self-scan checkouts and curb-side grocery pickups. For those who prefer to skip the store altogether, Longo’s was one of the first Canadian grocery retailers to offer online ordering via Grocery Gateway. Supermarkets in the United States are also testing the drive-thru concept, giving customers the ability to order and pick up staple items without leaving their vehicle. For consumers who still enjoy perusing the aisles, on-the-go scanning technology may be the answer to skipping the lines. Testing is underway for technology that allows customers to scan UPC codes on grocery items before putting them in their cart, so that their grocery order is already compiled by the time they hit checkout.
- • Trials and tastings: In-store activities including cooking classes, demonstrations and food festivals, have increased in recent years, offering a foodie-like experience for customers. For big brands, this presents an opportunity to get your products in the hands - and mouths - of potential consumers, while creating an experience to remember.
- • Rethinking the aisles: Some Canadian shoppers may have noticed changes in the aisles of their local grocery stores, as retailers move from category aisles to arranging items that are frequently purchased - and consumed - together. Peanut butter has seen a migration, being paired with jams and jellies near the bakery department. This means customers looking to get their PB&J fix can pick up all the ingredients in one centralized spot rather than navigate the aisles.
- • Apps make shopping smarter: Major grocery chains have produced smartphone and tablet apps - some are even available for the new Apple Watch. The real consumer benefits of these apps are the personalized flyers, coupons and loyalty programs that can be delivered straight into the palm of their hand. Flyer aggregation applications, like Flipp, have also enabled consumers to browse deals and price match with ease. This will make finding their favourite peanut butter at the right price that much easier!
- • Help with health: Seeking out healthier options? Many large-scale grocery chains have in-house dietitians, aligned with nutrition and food awareness programs. Tying into the online experience, retail apps, such as My Metro, have also emerged as platforms to help consumers make healthier choices both at home and in the supermarket.