2021 Grocery Trends
As many businesses shut their doors when national stay-at-home orders kicked in this year, grocers were pivoting to keep consumers safe while battling national shortages of essential products as panic set in. In a year of fighting to just make it through, consumers have adapted to a new way of shopping that will have residual effects on their behavior in the coming years. Looking towards 2021, the future for grocery is becoming more clear with new trends that resonate with these consumer behaviors. Read on to find 5 tech trends that are expected to be a top focus for 2021.
Continued Digital Surge of Grocery
While grocery stores stayed open through the pandemic, many shoppers felt uncomfortable entering the stores due to an increased risk of coming in contact with the virus. This led to the rise of online shopping, with nearly half of all shoppers buying groceries online due to COVID-19, according to Oracle. Online shopping isn’t seeing a dip, however, as stay-at-home orders lift however, with 93% of consumers surveyed saying that they plan to continue this behavior post-pandemic.
On-Demand Grocery Delivery Will Continue to Innovate
One of the most notable delivery companies for groceries, Instacart, saw a 218% jump in month-over-month app downloads in March when the pandemic began to hit the United States, with their three-year projected growth being hit in just 30 days during this time period. Shopping behaviors have continued to evolve – with a study finding that Instacart orders increased by 32% this year for orders placed during working hours on Monday through Friday. In 2019, Walmart launched Delivery Unlimited, a membership program that allows for unlimited grocery deliveries. Amazon also added a 2-hour grocery delivery service to its Prime membership program for Whole Foods. The demand for this last-mile delivery service has caused further exploration into finding out how to fulfill this demand. Looking at innovations in 2020, many companies are exploring the use of delivery robots, with companies such as Starship Technologies and Nuro getting the approval to launch their driverless vehicles and robots in metro areas.
The Growth of Grocer’s Media Platforms
CPG marketing budgets have been commonly at play in grocery stores. Enter a grocery store in mid-January, and you will most likely see stacks of cola packages transformed to look like a goal post. Considering the rise of online shopping and delivery, these commonplace strategies for CPG brands will get decreased visibility as digital adoption increases, and this strategy is one CPG’s and grocers cannot afford to do. Many CPG brands, rely on the in-store shopping experience to drive product discovery. Grocers will begin to find ways to add these valuable, high-visibility opportunities to their digital channels, transforming their digital presence into that of a media platform to create new grocery revenue opportunities. We can expect a high reliance on email, social, transactional messages, and more to support product discovery.
Rise of the Dark Store
One change that many top grocers, including Walmart, Albertsons, and Hy-Vee are making to their operations is the addition of the dark store. While more people are ordering online, the costs for sq. Footage of rental space, employees checking things out, restocking, still exist. By converting to partially, dark store formats, they can reduce these costs. Notably, Walmart has added more than 30,000 workers to fill customers’ online orders, but this has led to congested aisles with both leisurely shopping customers, and working-against-the-clock team members trying to battle through the aisles.
Safety is a top priority of many grocers right now, and to keep customers and employees safe, modifying as many processes to become as contactless as possible has been the goal. Contactless payments were quickly adopted and many grocers have started to explore biometrics at checkout. Even with the rise of the self-checkout, this strategy is futile if grocers don’t consider other contact processes in place at the checkout, such as coupon redemptions and printed receipts. We can expect to see further changes in these processes in the coming year as grocers look to evaluate where they are with this priority.
COVID-19 caused grocery innovation to accelerate beyond previous years. Grocers need to stay agile as they look forward to cementing their business success into the future. Consumers have many different channels to purchase through no, so sub-standard experiences will cause once-loyal customers to churn. The grocers who adapt to these new customer demands will be the ultimate winners of 2021.
Stay Ahead of 2021 with flexEngage
Are you looking to increase your digital grocery innovation in 2021? flexEngage can help you by equipping you with the best in class digital marketing suite to drive revenue and offer a contactless experience with your grocery receipt solutions.