"Ovention is a Winner"—
The pandemic created substantial changes in what customers purchased and how they shopped. Limited dine-in capabilities created a catalyst for people to dust off their pots, pans, and cutting boards and prepare home-cooked meals. This shift catapulted grocery and convenience store (c-store) businesses into high demand, leaving many suppliers struggling to keep up. Now, as time and vaccinations progress, restaurants are taking a bigger piece of the pie and grocers are looking at what trends are up and coming in 2021 to keep shoppers happy and walking through their doors — often.
Last March, grocers and c-store retailers scrambled to create excellent online user experiences for their shoppers. However, many ordering systems were clunky, disorganized, and difficult to navigate. And while that was understandable a year ago, customers aren’t cutting stores much slack anymore. Easy-to-navigate landing pages with top-level categories, clear product images, updated nutrition information, filtering capabilities, a mobile experience, and a seamless cart and checkout process are now an expectation. Offering features to recreate previous orders, apply available coupons, and purchase additional options based on past purchases increases sales and shopper satisfaction.
Delivery and curbside-pickup services are a trend that’s here to stay. Those that don’t enjoy perusing the aisles of their local grocery or c-store after work or with kids in tow will demand this convenience stay put. Delivery software companies are an easy alternative to hiring shoppers and drivers, and there are many to choose from. Companies that provide quick delivery, quality foods, and excellent customer service will help keep a store’s delivery service on par.
Online ordering and grocery delivery is one way that contactless technology and services help shoppers, but contactless payment is also evolving. Many stores already have frictionless checkout services like tap to pay, in-app, or QR-code payment. But on heavy shopping days, standing in line can be a daunting thought for most people. New technology incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) like Amazon’s Just Walk Out service solves that problem by giving shoppers another option. The checkout-free app charges shoppers’ credit cards for the items in their cart as they wave and walk out of the store. The days of standing in line may soon be no longer (pun intended).
Flashbacks of bare shelves are what fuels the trend to optimize product purchasing. Innovative foods are not as much of a thing in 2021, but streamlining the supply chain is. Companies are looking at what food items are their best sellers and what to eliminate from production lines. Farm-to-store is not just something local co-ops are doing anymore. Big box grocers and convenience stores are getting in on the trend. Understanding the source of their food supply and how much of each product a farm can contribute, helps grocers ensure they’ll get desired products to their shelves — without the hassle of a distribution middleman. Plus more consumers want to know where their food comes from, making this trend a win-win for businesses and consumers alike.
Restaurants are picking up speed again, and grocery and c-stores are focused on customer experiences to retain food dollars. Wegmans grocery store is the authority in customer experience, executing on the “destination store” concept perfectly. They understand that a fresh-market feel with low lighting, playful signage, and specialty food attracts customers. Shoppers make the trip to buy groceries, but they also come for the made-to-order impossible burgers, poke stations, food bars, and large dine-in areas. Creating this type of experience turns shopping from a task into an enjoyable outing. Trends in 2021 will bring this same type of environment to c-stores via full coffee bars and healthy, fresh convenience foods. Food bars, coffee shops, chef-prepared samples, healthy meal kits, dine-in areas, and a destination ambiance are the grocery and c-store trends to follow this year.
Another experience trend is upgraded loyalty rewards, giving shoppers something they value such as cashback, free items, gift cards, or savings on fuel. Personalizing the rewards by allowing customers to have a choice in their reward is also a great option for upgrading your loyalty program. Adding value to each shopping trip continues to bring customers through your doors rather than your competitor’s.
As a professional in the grocery or c-store industry, staying on top of trends is essential to your business. One of the biggest trends right now is offering customers the convenience of meal kits. To learn more about this hot trend, head on over to our blog.
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