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The evolution of grocery shopping in 6 predictions

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From shopping lists to shopping carts, from browsing to checking out, the grocery shopping experience is changing in a data- and technology-driven landscape. To understand what this could mean for consumers in the near future, we asked data science, analytics and strategy experts at 84.51° the following question: From your vantage point, how do you see the grocery shopping experience evolving over the next 10 years? Here are their predictions.  

1. Proactive personalization

New technologies in data science and AI are set to play a major role in shaping the evolution of the grocery shopping experience. Advanced predictive models will make it easier for businesses to gain insights into emerging trends and shifts in shopper behavior via detailed examinations of large volumes of data. As a result, shoppers will experience a higher level of personalization, with more proactive recommendations that can reduce their mental load. This will not only enhance their in-store experience but also extend to recipe curation, meal preparation and beyond. Imagine having all the tools and information you need at your fingertips, often before you even realize you need them – that's proactive personalization. Chandra DiGregorio, VP, data science and research 

2. Simplified experiences and a shift in buying power

In 10 years, we will see a shift with the generation that holds the buying power; the industry will have to remain flexible to move at the speed demanded of these generations. Simplicity and sustainability are increasingly important and also take on different meanings to different people. There are obviously a lot of bets on AI, but I believe this along with other technologies will enable us to simplify the experience at a personalized level with curated offerings that fit the needs of each shopper and their ideals. I imagine we will see retailers embrace the influencing and networking powers of apps like TikTok and Instagram to allow customers to create their own online shopping experience. Maybe one day I’ll log on to my Kroger app where the items I buy every week are already loaded in my cart, and the Paleo influencer or brand I follow will recommend a few new recipes I can try that fit my budget and time constraints.  – Bethany Bernardo, senior business acceleration consultant, merchandising analytics and strategy 

3. Surprise and delight and other constants

Brands and retailers will have to continue to evolve and change in order to compete in this competitive market, but there will still be a few constants—the need to simplify and enhance the customer shopping experience both in-store and online. We need to continue to offer all the products customers love but also be able to surprise and delight them with new offerings. We have to continue to find ways to make it easier for customers to shop and find the products they are looking for. I think personalization will continue to be key to providing customers with offerings that are relevant to them and pertain to the items they purchase on a frequent basis. – Dominique Heeb, lead consultant, strategy and acceleration 

4. The human touch will be more important than ever

Over the next decade, the grocery shopping experience will see significant advancements driven by technology and changing consumer preferences. Online grocery shopping will continue to grow, with retailers improving platforms and more importantly offering personalized recommendations. I believe that technology integration, including AI-powered assistants and cashier-less checkout, will enhance efficiency in-store and online. Technology will be a driving force in evolving the shopping experience, but customers will still gravitate towards retailers that have friendly, efficient and knowledgeable associates that maintain a clean space. – Kristen Townsend, senior business acceleration consultant, merchandising analytics and strategy 

5. The rise of grocery ecommerce

Grocery ecommerce will continue to grow. For fresh departments, some categories like ground beef are easier for customers to feel confident purchasing online. Ensuring customers have confidence in purchasing higher retail categories and categories that historically customers are particular with, like steaks, will be pivotal to winning their purchase online. Packaging types for fresh meat may need to change in order to adapt to supply chain needs. For example, vacuum sealed packaging can provide longer shelf life and stronger packaging; the key will be ensuring customers can adapt to these changes. – Will Zimmerman, lead business acceleration, health and non-edible commodities

6. A divergence of customer needs and expectations

Over the next 10 years, I expect that we will continue to see a divergence in our society between haves and have nots. What this will result in is diverse needs from our customers. Retailers that do not take a personalized approach will not be successful in the future. Knowing who their customers are and delivering what is most important to them will become table stakes. Some customers will look to brands and retailers to help them stretch their budgets and save money while also helping them to save time. Other customers will look for an experience; they enjoy grocery shopping! They like to pick their produce, they like to be greeted by a friendly associate and they enjoy new, quality products. The brands and retailers that know who their customers are and can not only meet, but also anticipate their needs and deliver measurable value, will be the ones that succeed in the future. – Ali Kell, lead business acceleration consultant, loyalty strategy and rewards    Learn more about the evolution of grocery shopping in our ebook, “5 ways data science and AI are shaping the future of grocery shopping.”   

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