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What Should We Expect in Grocery Stores of the (Near) Future?

Maggie Kearns Francis

May 6, 2019

Every wonder where the apples you picked up at your local grocer were grown? Which chemical treatments they received? How many days ago they were picked? In grocery stores of the future the answer to all of these questions are easily answered by screens displayed above the food. Simply lift your item to the screen to learn everything from the amount of CO2 it emitted during growth to its detailed nutrition facts.


Soon grocery store aisles will be lined with digital shelving systems, using cloud technology to signal customers to their desired product’s location while simultaneously trasmitting inventory information to store management.


Grocery stores of the future will be transformed into social hubs, combining grocery shopping with entertainment and services. Incorporating bars and restaurants into the supermarket setting will provide convenience and a one-stop-shop setting for picking up must have grocery items, services such as laundry, entertainment, and the convenience of ready-to-eat items from local vendors.


In the not so distant future you may see your local grocer moving in to replace an anchor store at the local shopping mall. Whole Foods, Wegmans, and Kroger have already made this move; turning vacant retail spaces into conveniently placed supermarkets for mall shoppers.


With these rapid changes happening in the grocery industry we talked to one of our in-house experts for a few insights into the changing landscape and how it will effect shoppers, grocery chains, and major brands.

Consumer Insights

How will monitors being installed above food displays change the way food producers reach their customers? How will this change the shopper’s journey in-store?


Krystal Paisley, Consumer Insights SME (KP) – This will allow food producers and consumer packaged goods brands to directly market to their customers in a way they never could before. For the most part, brands rely on packaging and also customer’s brand knowledge. For example, if a customer is looking for an organic brand, they’re either doing their homework before they even get to the store, relying on where the grocery brand places products within its natural section, and stuck to package labeling. The monitors go beyond that and allow brands to capture customers who didn’t “do their homework” before the trip.


Currently, many stores have an organic or natural food section. Monitors above the food could drastically change that. What if products had informational monitors? The customer could directly compare non-organic and organic brands, finding out where each item came from. It’s a game changer for brands to be transparent and showcase what the customer is buying. This could make specialized organic and natural sections completely obsolete while also reducing barriers to entry into the organic category.


How will the increase in data on shoppers and their shopping experience effect producers and marketers/advertisers? How will this change the shopping experience and the marketing experience?


KP – This type of data impacts brands – both for the produce/consumer packaged goods brands and for grocers. Such rich data gets you to the bottom of your customer and the best way to market them. This will be used more and more based on location. What may work in one grocery store location may not work in other store due to local demographics. By understanding what’s working at each location, grocers and brands can change the product assortment and the in-store information to match the needs of the local customer base.


Grocery stores have started integrating restaurants, bars, and cafes into their service offerings, how do you see this changing the shopping experience? From a design standpoint how do you integrate these features?


KP – With stores that have integrated more social offerings, the grocery store truly becomes an experience and a destination. A good example of this is Giant Eagle’s Market District in Grandview Yard. They have a whole experience with food offerings, a bar, and even live music. It is truly a destination with the added bonus of grocery shopping. On the other spectrum, c-stores are continuing to compete with grocery stores for the quick trip. C-stores meet the needs of the basics – bread, milk, eggs – with the added convenience of being able to grab and go. It’s key for grocers to understand their location’s demographics and needs. There’s a serious balance going on between experience and convenience. Before designing a store, whether a new build or renovation, grocers must first understand the location and its demographics.


Interested in learning more about consumer insights? Contact Consumer Insight SME Krystal Paisley at