Make Shopping A Want-to-Do And Technology Will Bring Millennials To Stores

  • by , Columnist, March 13, 2017

With the explosion of online shopping and click-and-collect programs in recent years, some in the industry may worry the grocery store of tomorrow won’t include going inside a grocery store at all. 

According to market-research firm Mintel, 31% of consumers made a grocery purchase online in 2015, up from 19% in 2014. Statista reports that in 2016, 5% of people actually preferred shopping online over the in-store experience. While that is a relatively small number, it will only grow … especially as Millennials gain more buying power.

Amazon recently announced their Amazon Go store concept. While details are still sketchy, customers will be able order groceries online, drive to the store and have their items brought out to them. Similar to curbside service at restaurants. Or you can go inside and place orders on a tablet. The first store in Seattle will open to the public later this year. 

But listen up, brick-and-mortar grocers, while the grocery store of tomorrow will look a bit different, it isn’t going anywhere. When it comes to food, people will always want to touch, feel and smell products before they buy it. That is especially true when it comes to meat and produce.



Millennials in particular enjoy going to the grocery store; they just don’t like the hassle of finding products, long check-out lines or bad customer service. 

Technology can help to improve this experience, not eliminate it. Smart operators should be taking notes and figuring out how to make the shopping trip an experience people look forward to each week (or twice a week). 

I wouldn’t anticipate Amazon Go as a new neighbor any time soon. In the meantime, think through how you can use current technology to improve the experience.

While you may not have your own R&D department, it’s important to understand and invest in new technology. Keeping an eye on the competition can provide some helpful insight. 

Kroger uses QueVision technology the moment a customer walks in the door. Infrared cameras note a customer’s arrival, and sensors and predictive analytics feed managers’ real-time data. This info guides managers to adjust staffing based on historical data. Average wait time at Kroger is only 30 seconds, compared to as much as 4 minutes a few years ago. 

You can also look overseas for some ideas. The Shanghai Lotus Supermarket in China has tested a Smart Shopping Cart that is wifi-enabled and becomes a shopping aide. Features allow shoppers to search for shopping, discount information, and store coupons as well as to create a shopping list as they move through the store. 

As you begin to use and implement new technology, it’s also important to focus messaging on how new features provide a more enriched shopping experience in your marketing communications. To win new business, you need to promote more than what bananas are on sale for this week. Make your audience feel like coming to your store isn’t a “must-do” but a “want to.” 

The less time they spend in the store, the more time they have to experience the things they love outside the store. Guess what? They’ll also enjoy the in-store experience even more. If you can make a personal connection that goes beyond price, that is a win-win for everyone.

As the brick-and-mortar experience evolves the experience inside the store, it’s important that how you position to store to your consumers evolves with it.

If carefully planned and executed, technology will be your grocery store’s best friend, not its worst nightmare.

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