It is no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how consumers shop. Even after two years of consistent deviation from the norm, grocery retailers are still looking for the best ways to stay on top of the competition. In the current state of the world, there are three main challenges that grocers are facing: supply chain shortages, staffing shortages, and record-high inflation.

So now the question becomes, what are the top trends you should watch this year? With these challenges and the current consumer in mind, we have narrowed it down to five major factors to look out for.

1. The expansion of digital shopping and delivery

Not only are retailers looking for new and improved ways to boost the e-commerce demand, but consumers are online ordering more than ever before after spending so much time in isolation. Even demographics that are not known to be the most tech-savvy are utilizing online shopping for groceries because of the perceived lower health risk. 

This year, we’ll see more widespread adoption of fast delivery this year, especially for retailers looking to target a younger audience. With delivery services such as DoorDash and GrubHub taking over the market, using third-party services and dropping delivery times down to the newest thirty-minute expectation may set you apart and drive up business.

2. The increase of automation in stores

Throughout the past two years, self-checkout kiosks have been popping up with more frequency because of the labor shortages and the need for the most hygienic shopping experience possible. By investing in automated technology for your stores, you are investing in the happiness of your employees and the efficiency of your business. Increasing the amount of automated technology will make things run smoother, yes, but also allows you to offer better pay and benefits for the humans that keep the store running!

Beyond self-checkout kiosks, coin counting machines can be an easy way to cut down on cost, labor and time for employees and customers alike. The time of technology is now, and automation in stores is just another way of retailers keeping up with the new age.

3. The acceleration of premium products

At the beginning of the pandemic, certain products and services gained significant traction, one of those being packaged and semi-prepared meals. Many grocers are successfully competing with restaurant and meal prep kit delivery services by hiring more culinary talent to prepare ready-to-eat meals on site. This adds more options for online ordering and increased prepared meal selections, the perfect way to balance the new demand for cost-efficient and health-conscious options.

The rise in shoppers seeking the best value for their money alongside a focus on healthy eating creates opportunities for grocers to add healthier options to their private-label products, allowing for both price-conscious and health-conscious consumers to have the best of both worlds.

4. The move to “one-stop” shopping

Before the pandemic, shoppers indicated that they visited grocery stores nearly twice as much as they do now, and with the consistent move to the online shopping space for both basic retail and grocery, this is unlikely to fully rebound. Because they are visiting grocery stores less, customers are looking for the “one-stop shop” that can offer everything they need. 

The true winners of a consumer’s primary shopping trip tend to offer affordable options and e-commerce capabilities while ensuring that products are in stock and a high level of hygiene practices are in place. Some ways grocers do this include increasing their meal options, focusing on communication with their suppliers to avoid running out of products and engaging more with retail media networks.

5. The improvement in consumer data usage

It is no secret that retail continues to migrate online, but with this change comes a growing need for retailers to use the data they are already collecting to improve their ability to personalize the shopping experience. 

For grocers specifically, this becomes increasingly important as supply chain shortages continue. Customer dissatisfaction can be avoided by referring to consumer data and being intentional about substitutions. Combining the data already being collected with in-depth analysis leads to effectively informing your operational choices, thus providing product manufacturers with an edge as they deal with supply chain issues.

What’s Next?

As the world finally returns to “normal,” we continue to look for ways to improve the shopping experience for consumers. After spending months in isolation with delivery services acting as their best friends, we begin to look for any possible way to make grocery shopping easier for them. By watching these top five trends, you will be able to set yourself apart from the competition while providing the best service possible for your customers, even amid shortages and lifestyle changes. For all your retail insights in today’s changing climate, follow Coinstar for Retail on LinkedIn!