Grocery sales have soared during the pandemic when the coronavirus outbreak upended traditional shopping habits and grocery operations were thrust into the spotlight. We have seen them and their employees rise beyond being an “essential” service to almost cult hero status, as they man the front lines of the crisis to keep customers stocked with food and household supplies.
Grocery spending is at historical levels with revenue up 11.7% in June 2020 compared with June 2019.
It is clear that grocers (big and small) have evolved to meet the challenge of COVID-19 and earned consumer’s trust by quickly addressing their needs including:
1. Focusing on contactless protocols such as online ordering, touchless payment options, and social distancing
2. Adding on-site safety enhancements for customers and employees
3. Improving or implementing a contactless curbside pickup experience with more pickup windows, more pickup timing options, etc
As businesses have been allowed to expand operations, grocery sales and traffic have slowed. While the slowdown has given grocers a chance to breathe, it is critical they do not let their guard down. Grocers must continue to build on the goodwill they have gained from consumers by continuing to offer a safe and seamless customer experience, especially when it comes to contactless protocols.
According to Ipsos, grocery ranked #1 as the most trusted industry, by 78% of consumers, for its handling of on-site cleanliness and safety protocols.
To customers, taking the safety of consumers and employees seriously during this pandemic is four times more important than delivering good customer service. Our Rakuten Ready Contactless Playbook also found that “contactless protocols” ranked #1 with consumers as the most important factor in feeling safe while shopping.
In our playbook research, consumers ranked the following as most important for their safety:
1. Requiring masks by customers and employees at all time
2. Limiting the number of shoppers who can enter at any one time and ensure one-way shopping aisles
3. Increasing the number of self-checkout stations
4. Shortening wait times for curbside pickup orders
“The ability to deliver on health and safety efforts is now the most important aspect of the customer experience, and it will be for some time,” says Nick Mercurio, Executive Vice-President, Ipsos Research. “Grocers must, therefore, be ready to adapt innovative tools, both online and in-store, that can help keep that experience seamless for consumers.”
In the future, consumers are going to expect much more integration of technology to improve their overall customer experience. Our playbook asked, “What technology are you willing to adopt in the future if it lowers your risk?” Over 65% of consumers chose “predictive arrival technology” as their top choice with the expectation that it will allow businesses to shorten wait times and reduce the risk of lingering on-site too long.
Consumers are definitely willing to adopt new or innovative technologies if they think it will lower their risk, improve their safety, and reduce the amount of time spent on-site.
It should come as little surprise that merchants who appear to take health and safety seriously are trusted significantly more by consumers. Grocers have earned the trust of consumers and must continue to nurture it, especially as the economy continues to slowly open up.
As cases rise in many states causing grocery traffic to ebb and flow, it is important for grocers to not get complacent. They must continue to innovate on the customer experience with technology while incorporating safety expectations into their long-term planning, especially when it comes to Order for Pickup, the most common contactless experience.
Our playbook research found that 73% of consumers expect to continue to use Order for Pickup services even after the crisis eases.
So the stakes are huge—failure to deliver an experience that meets the consumer’s and employee’s needs while complying with government regulations could be costly and result in eroded trust and long-term damage to a brand’s reputation.
At Rakuten Ready, as the leaders in predictive arrival technology, we focus on delivering a seamless, efficient, and safe contactless experience for grocers of all sizes including Kroger. Connect with us to understand how Rakuten Ready can assist your brand with planning and executing superior contactless Order for Pickup experiences.
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