Article

The Future, Faster: Grocery Transformed

May 11, 2020

COVID-19 and the new context of customer experience

Tomorrow’s grocery leaders were already busy reinventing for the future. They knew it was coming faster than old timetables could predict. The maturation of 5G, biometric authentication, natural language processing and artificial intelligence technologies were already accelerating grocery’s future.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic intervened, emptying shelves and causing dramatic supply-chain disruption. In-store operations had to adjust for social distancing requirements and evolving sanitation mandates. The momentum toward online ordering, pickup and delivery accelerated virtually overnight.

Grocery’s transformation was already on an accelerated path. COVID-19 means the transformation will take place in real time under a spotlight of consumer and media attention.

Omnichannel: delivering exceptional experiences at every touchpoint

Perpetual change and constant innovation are the new normal, elevating adaptation from a nice-to-have to a core competency. Nowhere is that more apparent than with online ordering, pickup and delivery of grocery.

Grocery shoppers have always focused on experience. Now, more than ever, they’re focused on the health and safety of their families, starting with the safe acquisition of grocery essentials. In these uncertain times, consumer choices are still driven by convenience, often to an even greater degree. A shopper’s grocery journey may start online at home, ultimately resulting in a transaction via an in-store visit, click-and-collect or delivery.

Omnichannel approaches are helping grocers reorient to today’s reality. The ability to deliver secure, consistent and efficient customer experiences seamlessly across an expanding kaleidoscope of touchpoints is a critical benchmark for success.

Upgrading CX at in-store checkout

Grocery checkout remains a pain point. Even though checkout lines no longer inspire shopper dread, customers are still looking for increased speed at the physical point of sale. Seamless checkout expectations, driven by a new generation of digital services, mean shoppers expect faster, easier checkout every time. Improving on our own past performance and those of our competitors won’t be enough to compete—much less help us get to the future faster.

The grocery checkout of the future may require nothing more than a smile, with secure biometrics, intelligent sensors and cashier-less stores with “invisible” payment technology. Today’s social distancing requirements will accelerate trends toward a more automated checkout that reduces contact between customers and store associates.

Building tomorrow’s infrastructure, today

Getting to that future faster starts with timeless building blocks: safe, fast, frictionless payments—however your shoppers want to pay. Secure EMV card acceptance, contactless payments, seamless reward integration and acceptance of digital wallets represent a new baseline.

Consumer expectations for on-demand, simple, intuitive, personalized service is rising to include every element of the grocery experience. Getting to grocery’s future faster starts with crafting end-to-end solutions that innovate with long-term purpose. The integration of interactive voice into the omnichannel fabric, the introduction of 5G high-speed networks and the leveraging of data-driven insights with machine learning and AI will demand next-level competencies.

Rising to the challenge of elevated customer expectations today is foundational to success over the next decade of grocery’s evolution and beyond. The impacts of COVOID-19 are accelerating grocery to the future, elevating omnichannel grocery to a new baseline in the present. The inflection point of our current crisis only elevates the importance of retooling for the future, faster.