Throughout the pandemic, there was a lot of speculation about what the “new normal” would look like. Now that fears of COVID-19 have calmed for most shoppers, grocers and retailers are finally getting a glimpse of that new normal.

Some practices served their purpose but are no longer necessary—for example, limiting the number of shoppers in the store at one time. Others are likely here to stay, such as digital shopping and delivery. While they were ramped up for safety reasons, their convenience quickly made them a staple rather than a luxury.

Seeing what worked and what didn’t during the pandemic has provided a road map for the future, giving insight into the trends that will continue to succeed long after COVID-19. We have compiled a list of the seven most important trends we expect to see in 2023.

Retail Trends in 2023

Many of the practices on our list have been gaining popularity for years and were on our list of trends for 2022. However, the easing of pandemic restrictions brings a shift in the motivation behind some of these trends, as well as the innovative ways grocers are executing them. 

  1. A Data-Driven Customer Experience

Stores with ordering apps are investing in their improvement. For example, Perfect Corp. is a virtual try-on technology that allows shoppers to test makeup options online before purchasing. The technology has been adopted by beauty giants like Estee Lauder, Chanel, and Revlon, and many stores without apps are getting on board. App-based try-on and ordering is also making the customer experience more personalized by offering coupons, points, alerts for sales, product recommendations, and interactive shopping lists. 

This is more than just buying digitally, however. Retailers are discovering the advantage of third-party customer experience management platforms, which allow them to gather data that improve personalization for both digital and in-person shopping.

  1. Delivery and Fulfillment

While curbside pickup might not be as common as it was during the height of the pandemic, in-store pickup and delivery will continue to flourish. According to a Shopify study, 59% of customers are interested in BOPIS (buy online, pickup in store) options. Stores are expanding (or creating) dedicated areas as fulfillment centers for pickups and returns. 

Third-party delivery services are perfecting their methods. Real-time communication about product substitutions and customized delivery preferences are making it more convenient than ever for customers.

  1. Store Layout and the Shopping Experience

While shopping for some types of products online is more convenient, some people like to shop in person for items that are a matter of personal preference, such as fresh fruits (green bananas or ripe yellow?), vegetables, and meat in a grocery store, or clothing in a retail outlet. Many prefer to browse a brick-and-mortar store for inspiration, whether it’s for the week’s meals or next season’s fashions. In 2022, only 21% of global retail sales were online, meaning in-store shopping is not a thing of the past.

With retailers still aiming to drive in-store foot traffic, expect to see remodels and reorganization that puts personal preference items front and center with inviting displays. Meanwhile, staples like pantry items and household items will remain in aisles in the background. Shoppers might adopt a hybrid approach to shopping, ordering these “replenishment” items online, while stopping in for fresh items and specialty products. 

Separating items in this way also means that staff can focus on those departments where customer interaction is more likely—and the stores that do better with customer engagement are likely to drive increased loyalty and better revenues.

  1. Automation

Retail has been automating operations in many different ways, and this will continue in 2023. In addition to many customers preferring a DIY approach, staffing shortages have made self-checkouts and contactless pickups easier. 

As these automated systems become more common, new tech is already improving some typical annoyances like weighing fresh produce or using one’s own bags. On the grocer’s side, anti-theft systems will reduce product loss. The result: A more intuitive and user-friendly checkout experience.

  1. Premium Products and Personal Values…But With an Eye Toward Inflation

Shoppers want premium products. At the same time, inflation and fears of a recession are on their minds too. The popularity of culinary offerings such as single-serve prepared gourmet meals, and high-quality wine, cheese, and specialty products are showing up not only in high-end stores but in value chains like ALDI, Costco, and Walmart. ALDI, in particular, is consistently recognized for its impressive offerings and has even developed a cult social media following for its “ALDI finds.”

Retailers can also gain loyal followers by having a wide range of products—and environmentally friendly practices. Locally sourced products, sustainability, less packaging, and low waste are all goals worth pursuing. 

For grocers, things like selling irregular (“ugly”) produce, fresh-pressed juices, and common keto, gluten-free, and vegan products appeal to today’s customers. More and more, grocers are finding ways to bring them to the public at more affordable prices. 

  1. Supply Chain and Inventory Management

Finding locally sourced products to sell is not only good for a retail business’s reputation; it can also alleviate some of the headaches brought on by supply chain issues. Watch for other methods of keeping stock on the shelves. Investment in more advanced inventory management software will help stores regulate stock levels, pivoting to alternative sources when necessary. It will also reduce food waste as it becomes easier to predict product demand.

  1. One-Stop Shopping

In 2023, expect to see stores upping their game to drive in-store traffic by making the experience easy and pleasant. With all the alternatives, customers need to see visiting a brick-and-mortar store as worth the time and trouble. One way to do that is to build multi-tasking into the trip. 

Some chains have been doing this for years, including other amenities along with groceries. An on-site pharmacy, bank, and florist are common. Some retailers include salons, dry cleaners, vision centers, auto services, and cafes. Customers can enjoy the convenience of checking several tasks off their lists at once. Coinstar kiosks are also a perfect fit. What better time to turn in loose change and add the proceeds directly to the day’s grocery budget? (And that’s not all our kiosks do!) 

Flexibility in the Face of Changing Trends

The pandemic has taught retailers that the readiness to pivot and adapt is essential. Consider how many trends—grocery delivery, online ordering—have become mainstream. With more choices than ever, customers can choose the shopping experience that best integrates with their lives and matches their preferences. The question to consider in 2023 is: how is your retail business creating a convenient, engaging experience for your customers?

For more insights into these and future trends follow Coinstar for Retail on LinkedIn