Grocery retail is one of the few retail segments fortunate enough to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic. And many grocers have experienced an unprecedented level of sales volume during this time. Even so, this does not mean that the grocery industry will be “business as usual” once the worst is behind us. Indeed, just as life has changed for all of us now and the future, the grocery industry must adapt as we enter into the so-called “new normal”.
In light of this, AppCard has been collecting feedback from our partners, analyzing data from our retailers, and interacting with other industry colleagues in order to collect and share our thoughts on what to expect. This is the first of a two-part article.
For our first entry, we will highlight some of the technological implications of the changes that will come as shoppers view shopping in a new light. We expect the shopper’s new focus will be on convenience, speed, and limited interaction with people, products, and devices that may have been in contact with other people.
- Grocery e-commerce usage will exceed the levels seen before the pandemic. Grocers lacking an e-commerce solution will need to find partners for these services quickly as shoppers (especially those at higher risk) will think twice about entering stores. Those with existing e-commerce options will be analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of their current platform to improve the shopping experience and AppCard is a proud partner of many of these service providers.
- Cash will be perceived as a “high touch” form of payment and we will see a rise in demand for touchless payment options as consumers seek to avoid exchanging bills and entering PINs. Grocers will need to carefully assess whether their existing hardware is equipped for this shift and to what degree their shoppers are willing to adopt these payment types.
- Alternate forms of loyalty IDs will become the new norm as we see strong indications that physical loyalty card usage is declining as people desire a more touch-free experience.
- Couponing may experience a resurgence as shoppers who have lost jobs or experienced reduced wages due to the economic downturn seek additional opportunities for savings. Retailers without a digital coupon strategy will need to adopt a digital coupon platform to remain competitive.
- Self-checkout or ”scan and go” technologies will become increasingly attractive to shoppers wishing to limit human contact while transacting.
- Inventory replenishment alerts for key products that shoppers desire will become a new competitive edge. Loyalty programs are an ideal platform for making this personal and important communication occur with shoppers.
- Expect a decline in the paper circular. Shoppers will expect digital communications for coupons, store alerts, sale advertising, and more. Retailers will be forced to accelerate their digital strategy to adhere to their shoppers’ increased digital expectations.
These changes and more are going to be part of the grocery “new normal”. Those who see the changes ahead of the demand and act accordingly will be equipped to compete in this new retail environment. In our next installment, we will explore some of the shifts in shopper behavior and shopper expectations of their grocer.
AppCard is a leading provider of Personalized Marketing, Shopper Analytics and Digital Coupons platform to independent grocers nationwide. If you’re interested in discussing this topic more, contact us today.