Article by Kayla Matthews
Grocery stores are one of the most central and necessary parts of living. Along with other tech development though, you may have noticed that online grocery shopping has started to become more popular. In fact, experts are projecting the online grocery industry is going to pick up significant momentum in the coming years.
With Amazon's recent grocery innovation and purchase of Whole Foods Market, other grocers are vying to stay competitive. Amazon also offers its own cashier-less convenience store, Amazon Go, where customers can grab their items and go.
So, as competition heats up, the grocery industry is searching for ways to improve its online grocery experience. Here are four emerging trends to watch for in 2020.
As technology progresses, developers are able to obtain more and more data. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, big tech and data companies have come under scrutiny and criticism lately regarding privacy breaches.
But data can also facilitate a better user experience. It provides companies with general and personal analytics that they can use to recommend products, offer services or sales and more. In the grocery industry, this could help introduce you to new foods, recipes or products.
With data, grocers can see analytics like views, purchases and returns. From there, they can best assign prices to products according to supply and demand.
Moving forward, grocers will have to find a balance of collecting data with respecting privacy. People may not want to invest in online grocery trends if they feel their information won't be safe.
Some industry leaders and experts have discussed the benefits of an 'opt-in' option. This would allow you to only provide information you're comfortable sharing. Otherwise, you could choose to not opt-in but still continue shopping online.
Pickup and Delivery
Two of the more well-established online grocery trends are the pickup and delivery options. Many grocery stores are already seeing the benefits of these features, and others are following quickly.
Pickup and delivery first and foremost help accessibility. Many people with disabilities may find comfort in picking up their groceries or requesting that someone delivers them.
These features also help with various other aspects like if you're in a rush and don't have time to shop. It can help cut down on the lines at checkout, too.
Recently, apps like DoorDash and Postmates have become popular. These apps allow people to request food from grocery stores or restaurants and have drivers deliver it to them. Pickup and delivery options are grocery stores' ways to compete and profit.
Those apps won't put grocery stores out of business, but they have inspired new innovation and revenue. More grocers tend to offer pickup first since delivery requires financing and hiring. But delivery is becoming popular rapidly, too.
These two options will continue to increase as online grocery shopping becomes more available.
Digital stores are still in the preliminary stages, in general and in terms of grocery stores. It would differ from a regular online site as well. These digital stores would bring shopping entirely online.
The way the world is moving is towards digital. Younger demographics, especially, are opting for online or tech versions of everything. And it is crucial to keep up with changing demographics in order to maintain business.
By creating an online store, grocers maintain the pace of innovation and demographic interests. These stores would feature products with information, personalised customer service, and more. You would be able to shop for any grocery item online, going above and beyond regular grocery websites.
A store like this might even integrate artificial intelligence (AI), too. This would most likely provide the customer service aspect and personalise your shopping experience. Since AI is the centre of all tech interest right now, there's no doubt it will hit the grocery industry soon.
Regular shopping doesn't necessarily have the same engagement concerns that all things digital do. So, as online grocery trends progress, engagement will come to the center of the conversation. Grocers will want to engage people as much as they can in order to switch them from user to customer.
With a digital store, there might be more upfront chances for discounts and deals, for example. But that would just be the beginning.
It would no doubt progress to using apps as an interface that you could navigate and customise for your shopping needs. There might be more programs that allow access to things like product information, reviews or even recipes.
Further, you could do things like consult experts for buying advice, product demonstration or questions on food and health.
The overall experience would be user-friendly, beneficial and enjoyable. Engagement would increase significantly, and grocers would be bringing grocery shopping to the next level.
These trends all connect in various ways but stand individually as progressive forms of tech that can change the grocery shopping game. While some are in more preliminary stages, others are already fully running features.
What the next step will be isn't certain. But it will be digital.
Grocers are always improving the in-store experience. Now, with experts projecting industry growth, they will also start focusing on how to expand into e-commerce.
These trends will start to appear slowly and subtly but will ultimately make a big impact on a simple grocery shopping experience.