Providing a better experience for grocery shoppers could lead to stronger loyalty for retailers in 2017, according to one veteran industry watcher.
Increased digital connections, speedier checkouts and a more diverse produce department all rank high as top trends in grocery shopping heading into the new year, according to John Karolefski, a longtime supermarket analyst and editor of Grocerystories.com.
Karolefski's top five trends for 2017 are:
More Digital Engagement
To maintain loyalty among millennial shoppers who are starting families and becoming primary grocery buyers, supermarket chains will ramp up their digital activity, including outfitting stores with beacons on shelves, signs and product displays to deliver discounts and other messaging; promoting their own mobile apps as a unique shopping aide; and building out e-commerce capabilities.
More Ways to Check Out
Shoppers have always wanted the speediest checkout possible. Amazon's current test of a no-checkout store in Seattle, which lets shoppers use a special mobile app to check in and out of the store, is only expected to intensify this interest. Sam's Club and Kroger are among the traditional retailers testing new checkout options, employing smartphones or handheld scanners that enable shoppers to scan and bag their own products as they traverse the store.
More Diverse Produce Departments
Shoppers will find more organic fruits and vegetables, as well as more local produce. Meanwhile, the growing number of Hispanic-American shoppers will prompt grocers to stock such items as tomatillos and jicama, leading to more diverse departments.
More Meal Kits
Grocery shoppers will be able to choose from a variety of "meal kits" that have burst onto the scene in response to the emergence of food delivery services such as Plated, Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. Giant Eagle and Ahold USA began selling its own meal kits this year, and more grocers will follow in 2017. Manufacturers are picking up on the trend as well, led by Conagra Brands and Campbell Soup Co..
More Access to Product Information
Packaging for nearly 30,000 grocery products will bear a new SmartLabel by the end of 2017, giving consumers easy access to detailed information about what they are buying. Shoppers will be able to scan the new barcode in the store or at home to reach a landing page of information on ingredients and other attributes.