Where Grocers and Other Retailers Are Investing to Meet Today’s Consumer Demands

Today’s consumers demand more convenience, better service, and faster shopping than ever before.

As consumers experience on-demand shopping and nearly instant gratification when buying products online with home delivery or in-store pickup, they come to expect similar convenience in every area of retail, including the grocery store.

 

"Item-level RFID, product locators, video monitoring of inventory, and sensors on shelves are major supply chain and inventory technologies that retailers are looking to implement by 2021."

 

To win their hearts, minds, and wallets, grocers have to make shopping as frictionless as possible. They need to bridge their digital presence and physical stores to create an experience and provide options that balance the convenience of e-commerce with the experience of in-store shopping.

Zebra’s recent Retail Vision and Shopper Vision studies point to the many ways that retailers, including grocers, are creating this balance by investing in customer-centered technologies.

It starts with understanding why consumers shop where they shop. In a retail store, it generally comes down to a desire to browse or experience physical products, the immediate availability of those products, and in-store discounts. When they’re shopping online, consumers are typically looking for discounts, more product selection, and an opportunity to compare prices and options.

As a result, 78 percent of retailers now see the integration of e-commerce and in-store experiences as business critical. In fact, 76 percent of them say they connect consumers’ online activities with what they do in store, and larger percentages are investing in tools to digitize the in-store experience, help customers find and compare products, and simplify shopping.

A whopping 87 percent are planning to equip their staff with mobile point-of-sale devices to scan products and accept credit or debit payments anywhere in the store. When it comes to pricing and availability, a robust 86 percent are planning to use handheld mobile computers and scanners to read barcodes. Good examples of devices designed for retail applications are Zebra’s TC51/56 touch computers and MC3300 mobile computers.

An additional 85 percent of retailers are planning to use tablets, such as Zebra’s ET50 device, to engage with shoppers and provide more detailed product information.

Self-service is also a major trend, with 78 percent of retailers planning to integrate kiosks or stationary information terminals for pricing and availability information. Many grocery stores are also experimenting with personal shopper devices, such as Zebra’s PS20 device, which allows customers to scan products as they shop, access dynamic coupons and assisted selling, and reduce the checkout process to a quick and frictionless payment.

But meeting today’s consumer demands means more than just simplifying the shopping process and making it more digital and convenient. It also takes a concerted effort to stock the right products and optimize the supply chain for seamless visibility.

Out-of-stocks are always a threat to sales, so retailers are making avoiding outages a top priority. Nearly half had already planned to automate stock-out alerts by 2016, but 87 percent are now planning to do so by 2021.

Similarly, automation of inventory verification is another priority, with 82 percent of the retail industry planning to implement technologies to help automate the process by 2021.

Item-level RFID (75%), product locators (78%), video monitoring of inventory (76%), and sensors on shelves (69%) are also among the major supply chain and inventory technologies that retailers are looking to implement by 2021.

Of course, bringing together all the data from these RFID tags, sensors, and other devices requires a robust IT infrastructure and the right devices, applications, and wireless connectivity. But technological advancements are making this easier and more affordable than ever before.

 

To explore the possibilities and get more insights into the solutions for creating better grocery and retail experiences, contact our team at Supply Chain Services for a free consultation.

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