In today’s digital age, convenience rules for the modern shopper. Technology is permeating all aspects of the shopping experience, and for grocers and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies this means evolving and adapting to meet shoppers’ increasing expectations for convenience. Supermarkets across the country are overflowing with customers eager for a streamlined experience amidst the shopping chaos. Instead of mandating longer hours and hiring extra staff, more supermarkets are using technology to boost convenience and turn rushed shoppers into loyal customers.
Here are some ways grocers and CPG brands are adapting to meet shoppers’ desire for convenience both in-store and online.
Driving Consumer Engagement Through Immersive Digital Experiences
To stand out in dense grocery store environments, CPG brands are creating immersive digital media experiences to drive consumer engagement and product education in-store. Traditional supermarket chain Kroger launched Kroger Edge to digitally display pricing and nutritional information, as well as video ads and coupons for various products. The technology connects with shoppers’ smartphones to highlight products on their shopping lists as they walk down aisles. It even promotes products that align to customers' dietary needs should they have allergies or other dietary restrictions.
Johnson & Johnson has also invested in interactive digital displays. ShopRite Supermarkets employed these stations to help customers further explore Johnson & Johnson’s wide array of pharmaceutical, health and beauty products. ShopRite is expanding its use in beauty categories as well. For these grocery stores, technology is powering consumer engagement in-store while enabling brands to have new found analytics to drive shopper marketing decisions.
Self-Checkout Through Consumer Mobile Apps
Self-checkout has been around for years, but self-checkout through mobile apps is becoming the next step in streamlining the in-store shopping experience. Waiting in line is frequently cited as one of the biggest in-store shopping pain points, so many grocers are attempting to leverage shoppers’ always-present mobile devices to their advantage. Through a grocer’s app, shoppers can scan products and pay for them while in the supermarket without having to wait in long lines. Kroger unveiled its Scan, Bag, Go, which lets shoppers use an app or an in-store device to pay for goods, and plans to expand the feature to 400 stores. Grocery apps are some of the fastest-growing apps in the U.S. eMarketer projects that by the end of this year, 18 million U.S. shoppers will have used a grocery app at least once a month, up 49.6 percent from the previous year.
Differentiating Through Delivery
Two-day shipping might work for other retailers, but for supermarkets, shoppers expect to have their grocery items the same day, even within the hour. Retailers are working to meet this demand, with Walmart beginning to test its Walmart To Go same-day grocery delivery service in China, where customers can order their groceries through Tencent’s WeChat. Amazon extended its Prime Now service in select markets for Whole Foods customers to pick up their groceries. Kroger has also been offering curbside pickup and delivery to nearly 90 percent of its customers, and is even planning to launch self-driving grocery delivery vehicles to battle against the likes of Amazon. Additionally, grocers are adopting meal plan subscriptions to create more predictable demand of products and delivery schedules to ease the operational burdens in supporting customers' delivery needs with real-time inventory.
To succeed in the digital age and meet the cross-channel needs of shoppers, grocers need to adapt to new models and apply emerging technologies. By providing pickup points in-store, drive-thrus and kiosks, delivery services, cashier-less checkouts and mobile shopping, grocers can begin to deliver convenient and frictionless experiences for today’s customers.
Trevor Sumner is the CEO of PERCH, a platform reimagining the retail store experience by merging the physical and digital.