New York — More than eight in 10 (83%) consumers prefer shopping in traditional grocery stores. However, a new survey of more than 1,000 consumers from PwC, “Front of the Line: How Grocers Can Get Ahead for the Future,” indicates more than half of the shoppers surveyed complained of long lines and crowded stores.
Only 1% of survey respondents consider online shopping their primary way of getting groceries, though 92% reported having the option to online grocery shop. Based on survey results, PwC makes the following recommendations to grocery retailers:
- Tailor brick-and-mortar stores. Understanding the needs of those closest to their stores, grocers can customize to customers’ current and future preferences, such as implementing wider aisles, additional parking, easy-to-reach products, and a smoother check-out process.
- Personalize marketing strategies. Stores should act as gatekeepers for consumers, labeling products clearly with their sustainable qualities, allowing for a more intimate connection with the product. Additionally, consumers value community and expect their local grocer to participate in community events, support area businesses and help preserve the environment through sustainable business practices, all of which can be marketed throughout the store.
- Empower staff. Ongoing staff training, including arming staff with in-depth product and-service knowledge is critical. Employees should be prepared to readily offer customers suggestions aligned to their lifestyles, budgets and health goals. This can differentiate a store as a source of knowledge and build more personal and profitable relationships with shoppers.
- Transform technology. With smartphones on the rise among U.S. adults, grocery retailers should consider in-store information kiosks, in-aisle tablets and robust mobile applications for customers to readily access the information they need, from ingredients lists to food origins and nutritional facts.
- Reinvent loyalty programs. Robust loyalty programs can help grocers keep future customers spending in their store. Also, offering customer loyalty points for purchasing promotional items and healthy foods in the store can help push new products at higher price points, increase sales and boost a store’s reputation as a health-conscious grocer.
“While online channels may not become a common way to buy groceries in the near future, technology will still play a major role in the evolving grocery experience,” said Sabina Saksena, managing director in PwC’s U.S. retail & consumer practice. “Shoppers expect information at their fingertips and, according to our survey, more than half of respondents want to integrate their mobile devices into their future grocery experience. Grocers that innovate and build on their digital channels to meet this demand will be most successful.”