Top Grocery Store Trends for 2022 & 2023
McKenzie Richards / Convenience & Grocery Stores, Foodservice Tips / May 25
As more people become accustomed to eating and cooking meals at home, grocery stores have been experiencing a renaissance of sorts. In a 2021 study conducted by the Food Industry Association (to be updated this year), they found that 49% of U.S. adults are making their own meals at home, while 58% are eating at home more than pre-pandemic. With this in mind, grocery stores have become one of the fastest growing markets in the commercial foodservice space. With more supply and demand, many grocery stores are actively working to stay ahead of the curve by staying in-touch with cutting-edge trends to suit our ever-changing world.
Below are some of the top-most trends sweeping the grocery store game for 2022 and beyond.
Intuitive Online & Mobile Ordering
Since the beginning of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, grocery stores have worked around the clock to make shopping easier and safer for its customers and staff. As reported by Supermarket News, a Lucidworks poll found that 59% of consumers buy their groceries directly from the store’s website. Additionally, they discovered that 25% of those polled buy through a grocery store and through a third-party app. Whether a consumer orders directly through a store’s branded app, a third-party delivery app or online, these services provide an invaluable convenience that takes away the need to shop in-store. In light of this ever-growing convenience, here’s what you should be looking into.
Show What’s In Stock and Replacement Items
One of the biggest ways to make your online and app ordering services more intuitive is to ensure that you’re showing customers true in-stock numbers. In that same Lucidworks study, around 47% of people polled stated that they’d shop at a different store if they can’t find what they want online or in-app. When stock numbers aren’t actively reflected on the customer-facing side, and that customer goes to make a purchase only to find out after completing the order that one of their key items is unavailable, that can lead to some serious frustration. The trouble here is that this can then lead to customer dissatisfaction and possibly a lost customer.
To combat this, stores like Walmart and Target actively show customers what’s in-stock and out-of-stock. Displaying an in-stock number on your items can make a consumer shop with confidence and continue to be repeat customers.
Additionally, allowing your customers to sign up for restock notifications means they don’t have to keep checking back to see if something’s on the shelves again. In that same vein, many online retailers, apps and third-party delivery services not only alert shoppers of when an item is out-of-stock, but they also offer them the opportunity to list a replacement item.
Couponing Done Simply
With supply chain issues causing the significant rise in grocery store items, consumers are hungry for any way to save a buck. Grocery Dive states that 22% of their survey pool are expecting their grocery spending to increase by December 2022. With this in mind, showcasing active deals, discounts and coupons on your website or app will keep you ahead of the curve.
Many top grocery retailers are offering more and more discounts, coupons and other money-saving initiatives to help combat rising prices. Target’s proprietary app has a “Target Circle” tab dedicated to providing users with discounts and coupons. Additionally, when you’re a member of Target Circle (which is free), you get 1% cash back on each purchase which can be redeemed whenever for any purchase through the app.
Other retailers and third-party delivery services like Instacart and DoorDash will also offer incentives, deals and discounts for shoppers to curb the rising cost of groceries. Having these cost-effective features readily available for shoppers to use in a store-specific app not only adds convenience for your customers, but also saves them some coin with each shopping trip they make.
Partnering with Third-Party Delivery
Just like the rest of the commercial foodservice space, grocery stores are also investing in third-party delivery options. From DoorDash to Instacart to Shipt and others, these services provide consumers the convenience of grocery shopping from home. Since this service boomed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, shoppers have become more accustomed to it as both a safe alternative to grocery shopping and as a hassle-free experience. As more and more shoppers become accustomed to this luxury, the option to have groceries delivered by a third party service will continue to grow in 2022 and beyond.
Industry experts like Anne Mezzenga predict that a 30-minute delivery fulfillment window is going to be the new standard, and to keep up with demand, grocery stores need to have considerably-focused efforts.
In-Store Mini Fulfillment Centers
We’ve seen it with Target and Walmart, and now it’s becoming a newly important facet to many grocery stores. Setting up a small fulfillment center to grab items and store them for pickup and delivery helps keep all orders organized and also stored at proper temperature. Keeping this mini fulfillment center away from the general shopping area of your store also helps with efficiency as your employees can grab items and take them to a less crowded space in order to get them ready for delivery.
Offer Delivery Options In-App
Keeping everything your store offers available not just online but in a proprietary, branded app makes the shopping experience that much more streamlined for users. Offer different third-party delivery options for your customers to choose from, as every service is a bit different and many shoppers have a preference.
Self-Sufficient Checkout In-Store
For the customers who want to do their grocery shopping in-person, many of them are preferring self-checkout kiosks and similar solutions over traditional checkout lanes. Self-sufficient checkouts are not only more convenient for those buying a few items, they also allow the shopper a certain level of autonomy with bagging their own groceries and going at their own pace. Plus, many self-checkout kiosks don’t have the same lengthy lines as the cashier-run lanes.
Since the self-checkout technology is becoming more advanced—especially in 2022—grocers should highly consider investing in these innovative solutions.
Utilize the Latest Tech
Some of the most brilliant self-sufficient checkout methods are being utilized in the grocery store space. The latest advancements make the process easier for customers, but also protect the store’s bottom line. Tech companies like Everseen have developed self-checkout anti-theft systems to reduce product shrinkage. Using new technology to reduce “skip scan” shoplifting through video surveillance and prompting shoppers to try to scan again. After two attempts, an alert will be sent to a sales associate to step in.
Another area of annoyance for customers comes from purchasing produce and other fresh goods, or age-restricted items like alcohol. To solve these issues, artificial intelligence solutions are being considered and tested to recognize of-age customers and what type of produce is being purchased.
Finally, there’s the Amazon Fresh self-checkout model. They offer intuitive shopping features like the Amazon Dash Cart, which identifies and tracks items in your shopping cart after you scan a QR code on your Amazon app. On top of Dash Cart, Amazon Fresh stores also offer Just Walk Out technology, allowing shoppers to have their entry tracked, items in their cart for purchase and payment upon leaving the store. This feature lets shoppers leave the store in lieu of standing in a line to checkout.
One of the hottest topics in the commercial foodservice space this year is sustainability: how to be more sustainable, how to cut down waste and how to make your business all around environmentally friendly. And it’s not just the foodservice industry that’s thinking greener; according to a study conducted by the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council (CCRRC), 7 out of 10 shoppers actively try to reduce their environmental impact, and 2 out of 3 shoppers will make conscious efforts to recycle. Additionally, the study also states that shoppers are willing to pay 4% more at food retailers like grocery stores that are environmentally and community-conscious. So, what are some of the ways a grocery store can go green?
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
It’s the most basic environmentally conscious principle. Utilizing ways to reduce food waste, reuse consumable goods and promoting proper recycling methods are excellent ways to be eco-friendly in your grocery store.
For starters, offer easy-to-find recycling receptacles in your store for paper, plastic, aluminum, glass and disposable plastic bags. From there, you can also encourage the use of reusable shopping bags is an easy start. Reduce the usage of disposable one-time use bags by selling some branded ones made of upcycled materials, and even offer small discounts to shoppers who use them to bag their items on a shopping trip.
Another culprit of waste in the grocery space are the plastic produce bags. To combat the overuse of these items, encourage customers to bring their own reusable ones, or offer your own for them to use while they’re in store, and have employees collect them after checkout. In addition to these reusable options, you can also use biodegradable and compostable shopping and produce bags.
Next, take a look at one of the biggest pain points for grocery stores: food waste. RTS, an eco-conscious waste management company, reports that around 30% of food products in US grocery stores are thrown out, and that food is “valued at about twice the amount of profit from food sales.” Not only is food waste contributing to bulging landfills, but it greatly impacts the bottom line. In order to curb these statistics, consider using best practices when purchasing stock; take a close look at your supply and demand, and what’s really selling.
Another trend that’s been growing in popularity over the last few years is selling “ugly” produce. These food items aren’t aesthetically pleasing, but the apple or carrot itself is perfectly good and safe to eat. You can apply this same principle to boxed items that may have been slightly crushed in transit, but the product inside is perfectly fine.
Many big box grocery stores are now taking the steps to reduce their carbon footprint or become totally net-zero within the next 10-20 years. While this approach is definitely part of the long game strategy, it’s an ever-growing topic in the grocery space. But steps can be taken now and built up over time.
Start off small by replacing lightbulbs with LED energy-efficient variants in all lighting fixtures around your store. Next, switch to using energy-efficient equipment, like reach-in refrigerators, freezers, display cases and more. An easy way to find what models are energy-efficient is to opt for ENERGY STAR-rated pieces of commercial equipment. Not only are they eco-friendly, but they use less energy than traditional pieces of equipment, which also saves you some coin. You can even utilize alternative sources of energy to power your store, like solar- or wind-powered energy.