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Online Shopping Surges Create Additional Demands on Grocers

Aug 6, 2020 5:13:59 PM

With the increase of on-demand apps and third-party delivery services over the last few years, there has been a big shift among consumers toward online shopping that has forced grocery stores to adapt their operations in order to keep up with the demand.

Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced an entirely new set of challenges in the industry and pushed consumers further toward online options, forcing brick-and-mortar stores to develop thorough facility management and operational plans to address these trends.

Consumer Attitudes Trend Toward a Focus on Safety

Due to the pandemic, consumers are now making their decision on where to shop based on the precautions and safety measures that the grocery store has taken to protect their staff and shoppers, along with whether they offer curbside pick-up options. Whereas, prior to the COVID pandemic, consumers often chose to shop at a grocery store based on location convenience and their prices as compared to other local stores.

In particular, a Statista report projected online grocery shopping will more than double 2017 totals by 2021, reaching almost $29.7 billion, and any growth in overall consumer online purchasing could further boost those numbers.

In a recent Consumer Health & Safety Index report, consumers also reported that Whole Foods, Costco and Trader Joe’s have left positive impressions on them for implementing protective safety measures.

“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,” said Nick Mercurio, EVP and service line head of U.S. Channel Performance at Ipsos. “We found that 62 percent of shoppers would stop shopping at a retailer not taking health and safety seriously.”

How Brick-and-Mortars Can Succeed Through Effective Facilities Management

The key drivers to prioritizing your facility decisions should be focused on activities to draw guests in and keeping them coming back. Adding new ways for shoppers to pick up groceries is one way to do that. Consumers are seeking out convenient options to order online directly through your website or a third-party service so this keeps your store competitive.

Curbside pickup and/or delivery service are the two main options that consumers are looking for to help save them time. Shoppers want quick and easy ways to order their groceries without having to peruse the aisles, wait in long lines, and navigate parking lots. They’re willing to pay a few extra dollars to have their groceries delivered right to their door. It’s important to setup your store for these channels which means setting up an online store with delivery capabilities, hiring extra staff to fulfill these online orders and deliver them to shoppers. It also means setting up your facilities to receive orders from third-party apps.

These changes also mean addressing consumers’ new expectations in a COVID-19 world. There are many precautions that both food retail chains and brick and mortar grocery stores can take to put consumers at ease, including taking immediate actions such as:

  • Issuing face masks for all grocery store staff
  • Limiting the number of customers in the store at any given time
  • Requiring customers to wear a mask upon entry
  • Ensuring there are social distance markers at checkout and deli, bakery, and other ordering stations
  • Setting up plexiglass dividers at checkout 
  • Removing or modifying self-serve prepared food stations
  • Instituting a contactless experience wherever possible (entrance/restroom doors, handwashing sinks, hand sanitizer stations, etc.)

The bottom line is that taking effective and visible action to ensure that your store meets shoppers' new expectations will be critical to remaining relevant as shoppers buying habits continue to shift online. If your store is not perceived as safe, customers will not come in. On the backend, a full strategy to create or evolve alternative ways to allow shoppers to obtain products through your store, like an online ordering platform or curbside pick-up should be on your strategic roadmap to protect revenue.  

How Vixxo Supports Grocery Stores During the Pandemic

Grocery stores are now faced with navigating new government regulations and customer cleanliness expectations. With rapidly changing market dynamics, having a partner like Vixxo will help ensure zero equipment downtime and guarantee clean & contactless facilities. Our record of real-time innovation in integrated facilities management with rapid response service teams will allow you to meet and exceed your promises.

Beyond our expertise in equipment, and more recently since the pandemic began, we’ve supported our customers’ COVID-19 remediation needs. To date, we have already provided cleaning, disinfecting, plexiglass safety divider installation, equipment calibration, safety stations, and other preparedness services in thousands of locations across North America.

You can learn more about Vixxo’s solutions for grocery stores here.

Michael Sutherland

Written by Michael Sutherland