The grocery industry has changed fundamentally over the past year. According to Deloitte, “new shopping patterns, with higher reliance on online and delivery options, have become commonplace.” With new consumer habits expected to stick, grocers must meet changing demand, all while being careful to protect customer trust and loyalty.
Through the pandemic, home delivery and curbside pickup are two offerings that are becoming commonplace. As they do, consumers are becoming more impatient with wrong items being added to orders, or even worse, expired items being included. Optimizing the order picking process to ensure only the freshest items are included is one simple step grocers can take to boost consumer confidence.
Consumer habits are changing like never before
To test industry hypotheses regarding changing consumer behavior, Anyline recently surveyed 500 retail customers in the US about their shopping habits during COVID-19. The survey found:
- 65% said their retail shopping habits had changed over the past six months
- 39% started using curbside pickup
- 33% are now using home delivery
- 65% intend to continue with their COVID-19-driven shopping habits when the pandemic risks end
These trends illustrate the need for grocers to offer new fulfillment options to consumers.
Ensure fresh items to ensure customer satisfaction
Last year, the increased demand for home delivery and curbside pickup caught most grocery chains unprepared. Stores were not staffed to meet demand and time had to be spent training new employees.
Unfortunately, as a result of this transition, 53% of respondents said they noticed a difference between the displayed price and what they were charged at checkout. More alarmingly, 36% found items on the shelf that were past expiration date.
Initially, shoppers took these errors in stride. However, as consumers increasingly adjusted to their new shopping patterns, they became impatient with wrong or expired items being added to orders.
What began as growing pains became, in consumers’ opinions, poor customer service.
Optimize the order picking process
The good news is that grocers can address some of these challenges by updating their processes, beginning with order picking.
Employee-facing order picking apps can support curbside pickup and home delivery, particularly if they incorporate robust scanning technology. Grocers are already familiar with barcode scanning but should also consider OCR (optical character recognition), which makes it easy to capture alphanumeric codes on product scales and delicatessen order labels. Advanced scanning tools can help employees pick orders more accurately and avoid including expired items.
An added benefit? Scanning can be learned with virtually no training.
Meet consumers where they are
Ultimately, new retail habits like curbside pickup make consumers’ lives easier and truly improve people’s lives. The grocers who meet consumers where they are and deliver great experiences will be those that build long-term trust and loyalty. By improving internal processes like order picking leveraging simple tools like barcode scanning, grocers can find success for years to come.