As consumers interest in leading healthy lifestyles rises, every aspect of the food and beverage purchasing lifecycle is evolving and those changes are seen every day at grocery stores nationwide.  Retailers are shifting product mixes and establishing new purchasing channels so shoppers who want to buy better-for-them items have more ways to access them.

“The customer drives our product selection process, said Rodney McMullen, CEO of the Kroger Company, during a presentation at the recent Grocery Manufacturers Association Leadership Forum. “We make all our merchandising decisions based on what connects with our customers.”

Grocers are not only swaping out underperforming products with more in-demand healthy items, they are even redesigning their stores to highlight things like fresh foods and ready-to-eat meals.  To market these items, retailers are personalizing offers and reaching out in both traditional and digital ways to capture shoppers’ interest.

New technology is making its way into stores every day and grocers are investing in additional processes to offer digital experiences to shopper, even when they are shopping in brick-and-mortar stores

“The world is changing and it’s changing incredibly fast,” said Steve Bratspies, chief merchandising officer with Walmart US.  “Technology is changing, consumers are changing.  They are more open to looking at new things and the technology that is available has a greater degree of transparency than there ever been and they’re making different choices.

Grocers are catering to those new choices by bringing the grocery experience across a variety of channels.  Online grocery sales today account for about 5 percent of the $700 billion grocery market, said Abigail Slark, senior manager with Deloitte Consulting.  But Deloitte’s research suggests that half of grocery purchases are influenced by digital and those purchases tend to be greater in terms of basket size. “Consumers are shopping long before they enter the store and digital is, in fact, not a substitute for in-store shopping,” Slart said.

Considering that technology and digitization are becoming an immersive part of the grocery experience today, the odds are very high that those features will become even more prominent in the future.

Kroger’s recent partnership with Home Chef, Ocado, and Alibaba and driverless delivery service Nuro are a few examples of how the chain is staying on top of consumer trends to deliver what shoppers are seeking.  “So what does this mean about where we’re headed,” Kroger CEO McMullen said. “Fresher food and faster delivery to more customers.  Although those investments may prompt shoppers to wonder whether the grocer is moving toward a digital-only future, the reality is that retailers will have both capabilities to remain forward-thinking,” McMullen said.  “We firmly belief that the future will include both online and digital stores,”




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