Sala Blog - Checking In at the Check Out

Blog | Checking In at the Check Out

Juggling shortages on the shelves and an exponential increase in online orders, the European grocery sector has experienced huge changes in over the last two years. Harry Horn introduces the white paper, Checking In at the Check Out, by exploring some of the key trends revealed in the data-rich report.

Are Grocery Stores Prepared for Shoppers’ Return?

Recent data from Kantar suggests that UK grocery sales have risen by 5.7% to over £31 billion as shoppers return to stores. The growth in online grocery sales has also been almost halved in the last three months. The figures are enlightening and suggest that there is a real appetite for shoppers to travel to supermarkets for their food and essential items and that retail is, hopefully, returning to some sort of normal.

Defining the new “normal” in grocery

For me, and the Scala team, the question is what is the “normal” to which supermarket shoppers will be returning? Even if footfall and sales return to or even surpass 2019 numbers, the sudden unpredicted lockdowns and restrictions will mean that businesses of all types will be aware that “normal” can be stopped or skewed without warning. The fallout of the last year will mean that brands are likely exploring ways to future proof their business for any eventuality. For many retailers this will mean firming up their omnichannel offering as well as reconfiguring their physical spaces to better accommodate possible disruptions such as social distancing, occupancy restrictions or online order fulfillment.

It isn’t just brands that will be wary or looking ahead to an unpredictable future. Shoppers too have had their lives upended by the global pandemic and their priorities may have significantly changed following a year at home. For many, the last year has been a time to try online grocery for the first time or to buy groceries from a brand not normally used. We have seen data that suggests that as we emerge from the pandemic, customers believe that their shopping behaviours will change permanently as a result of lockdown living. We will wait and see if customers’ self-predicted behaviour actually manifests but brands should be aware of customer intentions.

Key trends for supermarkets

We have a new white paper that looks at the trends we expect to see in the grocery sector in the short and long term. Compiling and analysing the massive quantity of data that has been generated over the last 16 months, Checking In at the Check Out, identifies the key trends likely to have an impact on customers and supermarkets across Europe. The paper then goes on to look at some of the digital solutions that are best placed to make the most of these key trends. Delivery and the logistics involved in fulfillment of delivery will be a key adaptation for grocers and we predict that many, especially those larger hyper-market style premises, will look to use their car park space to better serve customers and minimise waste. Other trends identified in the white paper is a customer preference for local and a greater awareness of prices across products and supermarket brands. The white paper explores the potential for new signage technology such as shelf-edge displays and what the future may hold for occupancy management within supermarkets and personalisation via a customer’s personal device.

Exploring future-proof solutions

As vaccination numbers rise so it seems do trips to the supermarket. As baskets get smaller, how will supermarkets win and retain customers now and in an uncertain future. The data in Checking In at the Check Out contains a lot of clues as to where customer priorities lie and their expectations as they return to the supermarket. The white paper shares possible solutions for grocers, as well as other retailers to exceed these expectations, attract and retain customers. The grocery market is an extremely competitive one and it will be those brands that have learned the lessons of the past year and are investing in solutions for the years ahead that will be set for success whatever the future may hold.

Harry Horn is an ever-curious expert, keen to explore opportunities, share ideas and make technology benefit both business and individuals. In his decade at Scala, and now, as part of the STRATACACHE family of tech companies, Harry has seen the rise of online retail and the transformation of bricks and mortar retail spaces. An aficionado of integrated technology, Harry has a wealth of experience in applying dynamic digital solutions to transform business — from digital signs at scale to practical uses of AI, VR and AR in store. An advocate for giving customers the best experience as well as creating business efficiencies, Harry is a master of retail marketing, driven by a passion for customer insight and new technology.

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