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March 10, 2020

Trends Shaping The In-Store Shopping Experience

With the rapid advancement of digital technology, the exponential rise in ecommerce and shifts in consumer behavior over the years, the ways in which people explore and shop for products is changing.

This mix includes groceries, an industry in which in-store purchases are still the main sales driver. In fact, studies confirm that most consumers still prefer to shop for their groceries in-store. According to a survey conducted by facilities management company Vixxo, 87% of consumers prefer to shop in person. The purpose of the study was to evaluate attitudes and buying preferences in a time of emerging online alternatives for purchasing food products.

Online grocery shopping, while considered convenient for many, may fall short in some areas that are important to consumers. In store, a consumer can see and feel the products to test and compare quality. That means providing an excellent in-store experience and quality foods are key for keeping grocery store customers happy and loyal.

Here are a few examples of trends, plus retailers implementing new strategies to increase foot traffic:

Offer in-store discounts and promotions

To incentivize consumers to shop at brick-and-mortar locations, grocers can run special campaigns, offer select discounts and carry certain products. For example, if a retailer or brand has an online presence, specific products or product varieties can be indicated as “in-store only,” therefore driving interested consumers to the store to buy them. According to Forbes, “The fact of the matter is, people feel they can find the best deals online, and will often forego visiting a store for this reason alone. Giving them an incentive to make the trip can increase foot traffic.”

Take advantage of digital and mobile

Smartphones have become miniature personal shopping assistants. Sending exclusive offers via SMS or apps to mobile subscribers helps drive recipients to purchase products in-store. Push notifications alert customers about flash sales or special items in an effort to increase traffic. Social media is another avenue to announce new products, contests, events, discounts and other content to drive shoppers to the store. Through its mobile app, Walmart sends customers push notifications with the main goal of increasing sales. The app delivers personalized suggestions based on data around an individual’s online and in-store purchases, past product searches and specified preferences. Additionally, customers who are near or currently inside a Walmart can view the latest deals and special offers in that specific store.

Implement augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) technology—a blend of digital data with real-world imagery via a smartphone camera lens—is entering the grocery scene. Adding AR brings an advanced, yet user-friendly, way to help customers navigate store shelves, make better decisions about the products they buy and take advantage of in-store deals. Food4Less, Kroger’s California-based grocery division leveraged an AR platform with a mobile app that allows shoppers to view special deals, updated prices and important product information directly on their phone screens. According to Retail Dive, “As smartphones become as common as car keys, more grocers are turning to mobile applications to enhance the shopping experience.”

Up the entertainment and social factor

The social aspect of grocery shopping is another key influence. According to the Vixxo study, Millennials are three times more likely than other age groups to say that they enjoy the social interactions they experience in grocery stores. Creating a memorable, entertaining atmosphere with live music, hosting cooking demonstrations and distributing free samples of new products have become increasingly popular. For example, Chicago-based grocery chain Mariano’s enhances its store environments with weekly events, live piano music and cooking classes at many of its locations.

To stay afloat, grocery retailers must continue to evolve their business models, innovate their offerings and amplify the in-store experience as new online players enter the competition. With Retail Space Solutions pusher systems installed, products are kept organized and remain visible, improving store aesthetics and making the in-store shopping experience simpler and more enjoyable.