If you want to see how physical retail will look in 20 years, pay attention to grocery retail over the next 3 to 5 years.

  1. Amazon announced earlier this year they would licence its cashierless Just Walk Out technology. Customers can “just walk out” when finished shopping, like at an Amazon Go store, and their credit card will be used to pay for the products in their virtual basket. However, this is still the benchmark of futuristic technology, and there is still time for others to reach this stage!
  2. In China, Alibaba’s Hema store was an early adopter of a similar approach, allowing users to scan as they go and delivering AI-powered tailored suggestions based on previous buying behaviour.
  3. Asda is emerging as a leader in this field; its new eco-friendly store structure in Leeds should serve as a model for brands across the board, not just in grocery retail. The innovative approach decreases the amount of plastic packaging in-store and encourages consumers to use reusable containers to top up their supplies instead, with refill stations selling items from popular brands such as Kellogg’s, PG Tips, and Persil.

Source: ASDA

Grocery is where we will see clear evidence. In this article, we’ll delve into how grocers can make a positive impact on grocery sales, along with some best practices and strategies for grocery chains to build a better in-store grocery experience.

How grocery retailers are reimagining the in-store experience

Over the years and with the development of smart devices and Omnichannel retail, connectivity has emerged as one of the major challenges of selling smart. While innovations have kept happening across other retail sectors, grocery shopping hasn’t seen many advances on the technology front. Wandering aisle-to-aisle hunting for that elusive item on the shopping list or going through the long, tortuous wait in a checkout queue is still an all-too-familiar experience for the time-crunched shopper.

As shoppers grow more connected and demanding and flit seamlessly between channels, grocers need to reimagine various aspects of their business by leveraging digital at all stages of the shopper journey. Here’s a list of must-have tools that the smart grocer needs in his arsenal to secure his digital future:

#5 In-store navigation

In-Store Navigation has enormous potential for both consumers and retailers. When the customer arrives at the store, they evaluates all of the items on their shopping list, maps their placement on the shopping floor, and devises the best shopping path.

In-store navigation guarantees that a busy consumer does not waste time wandering countless aisles looking for their child’s favourite morning cereal or extra soft tissue rolls. Plus, they now has more time and energy to check out the store’s latest arrivals.

There are also significant benefits for the retailer. They have unprecedented access to extensive consumer analytics thanks to their tracking skills. As a result, they may deliver targeted real-time updates to customers about in-store discounts, discount coupons, and new product ads, as well as share bundled deals to improve basket value. Such tailored marketing actions contribute to the establishment of a bond that stimulates repeat visits and directly contributes to the retailer’s traffic-building goals.

#4 Empowered store associates

According to a Forrester Research survey, 69% of retailers feel that well-trained in-store staff are critical to their long-term strategy. Mobile, in particular, can enable store personnel to augment and personalise the shopping experience. They can discover customers, provide personalized and intelligent suggestions, and expedite their purchasing process if they have access to customer information.

#3 Flexible loyalty programs

According to Forbes, 63% were willing to utilise a retailer/loyalty programme app once it became available. Loyalty, couponing, and offers can all be transferred to a shopper’s smartphone using mobile technology. A loyalty programme might be utilised to better understand the customer and generate targeted marketing actions to create a connection that encourages the customer to return more regularly.

The Starbucks loyalty programme is a fantastic model for grocery stores to emulate. It features multiple tiers depending on spending, membership status, and benefits such as buying a particular amount of things every week to get additional stars.

Quick question: where do you like to get your coffee? You didn’t pause for a beat before saying Starbucks or Costa, did you? What about your favourite grocery store? You’re probably asking, “Does it really matter which grocery shop I go to as long as I get fresh, good produce?”

What consumers expect from loyalty programs in 2021 and beyond

Here are the 5 critical expectations again for your loyalty program in 2021 and beyond:

  1. Provide exclusive experiences and special benefits
  2. Consistently engage customers with instant gratification and surprises
  3. Allow customers to redeem in-store and online
  4. Offer loyalty communications using social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram
  5. Create loyalty journeys for each customer to experience and learn about the loyalty programme

#2 Cross-channel fulfilment

Consumers must be given the option of cross-channel fulfilment in the age of Omnichannel integration. This implies that retailers will be under more pressure to deliver things anywhere, at any time. And most of the retailers must have already included online ordering as a component on their websites, as well as provide busy shoppers with the choice of picking it up in-store or having it delivered to their homes such as curbside pickup to expand last-mile reach. Wal-Mart, for instance, has instituted the technology to provide BOPIS (Buy Online Pick-up In-Store) to its shoppers.

#1 Self-checkouts – No more why is this line so long?

73% of consumers want self-service technology. According to some surveys, people spend around 30 minutes per week standing in a shopping line. The checkout line is one place that may be the most frustrating for both grocers and customers.

Smart applications can manage the entire checkout process from start to finish in a responsible way. Shoppers can take control of their shopping experience by scanning bar codes/ QR codes of items with their smartphone cameras while buying. The transaction can then be completed using digital wallet.

Another alternative that provides speed and convenience to the modern customer is to provide the sales associate with hand-held, mobile POS so that he can finish a transaction at any place in the retail store, thereby eliminating checkout waits at the billing desk. Walmart is preparing all of its stores in the United States to accept its in-house Walmart Pay mobile app to bring more convenience to customers.

So much has changed in grocery retail: It’s time for grocers to try something new.

There is a need for obvious differences as customers emerge from the pandemic with changed priorities. This is critical in an industry where items, stores, and experiences are nearly indistinguishable. However, there is just a little window of chance to get it correctly. Consumer behaviours will converge around new standards as the dust settles after the pandemic upheaval.

Grocers must act rapidly to understand and steer this process, carve out a clearly unique position, and leverage it to dominate in their markets over the next decade.