The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live, work, and play. These changes to our lives will also alter our shopping behavior and our expectations of our preferred grocer. Things once considered important will no longer be as urgent and things once regarded as insignificant will come to the forefront of our shopping expectations. These shifts in our shopping needs will have an impact on grocery operations in significant ways in the years to come.
In our prior blog installment, we discussed some of the technology trends and changes we expect to see in the grocery industry once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. In this installment, we will discuss the changes in customer behavior and the new shopper expectations that will drive changes in how grocers operate.
- Consumers will be more brand flexible now that they have been forced to switch brands on some high demand products. This presents an opportunity for product marketers with loyalty programs to use targeted offers to win them back or retain those shoppers that made a brand switch.
- Consumers will tend to stock up on items that were scarce during the height of the pandemic buying panic, so as to avoid potential future inconvenience and unease. Maintaining an inventory of these key items and communicating when they are available will be vital to maintaining shopper loyalty.
- Shoppers will expect store cleaning regimens to be frequent and highly visible to ensure that they feel completely safe as they navigate and interact with all areas of a store.
- In-store and curb-side pick up orders will be more popular now that consumers have been compelled and accustomed to use these options during the pandemic. This provides grocers with the opportunity to fine-tune these mechanics and ensure an order pick-up process that meets or exceeds the in-store shopping experience.
- Shopping and delivery services will be used more than before the pandemic. Some stores will begin offering their own services in order to ensure a consistent and favorable brand experience from order inception to delivery.
- Health and wellness concerns will drive changes in food shopping. Foods that are immunity-boosting and healthy will be favored. Local produce, dairy, and meat will also see a resurgence in demand as consumer confidence in the traditional supply chain diminishes.
- Shoppers will consolidate shopping trips, creating a drop in both transaction counts and store visits as they seek to minimize contact with other people.
- As shoppers visit stores less, we will likely see the rise of “dark stores”, which are locations created solely to hold inventory and prepare orders for delivery or pick-up, much like the restaurant ghost kitchen concept.
- To keep stores less crowded during normally busy periods, stores may soon allow or require shoppers to make shopping appointments to keep store occupancy levels steady, manageable, and safe throughout the day.
It is times like these that make us all think differently about our lives and how we conduct ourselves. This will also be true for businesses. Due to the number of lives they touch, grocers have a great opportunity to be agents of change and adapt to evolving shopper expectations.
At AppCard, we believe our grocery partners are more than ready to face this challenge head on and succeed in the “new normal” world. We applaud all that they have done so far and we look forward to assisting them with the bold initiatives that our current and future partners will explore in the months and years to come.
AppCard is a leading provider of Loyalty Marketing Services to grocers nationwide. If you’re interested in continuing this discussion or wish to learn more about us, feel free to contact us today.