The Future of Grocery Stores: Innovations and Outlook Beyond 2022

by | Aug 10, 2022 | Grocery

A robot pushing a cart that demonstrates that changing human behavior drives the future of grocery stores.

Grocery stores are still the heart of the community. Although consumers have various servicing options, strolling through their favorite establishments and shopping for family staples remains a cathartic experience. As technology advances, the future of grocery stores will see innovations emphasizing convenience– enhancing the entire shopping experience. Today, we’ll take a look at the digital transformations that are the driving force behind the most innovative grocery store ideas.

McKinsey notes that unprecedented investments in grocery e-commerce in recent years are starting to reap benefits for grocery store operators. Consumers are also shifting habits towards finding greater value from their regular grocery shopping excursions. Almost 30% will seek the best promotions when choosing where to buy, while 90% of CEOs expect continued pricing pressure to play a role in consumers’ shopping behaviors. Knowing the grocery store trends and innovations below can help operators implement the right strategies for increased growth now and beyond 2022.

Key Takeaways:

  • The future of grocery stores will see more operators adapt to changing consumer behaviors and tastes
  • Value-and health-conscious consumers are demanding more nutritional and sustainable options on the aisles
  • Technology and analytics will drive trends like walkout shopping, omnichannel fulfillment, and analytics for better resource management and workforce planning

5 Innovations and Trends Shaping the Future of Grocery Stores

The rise of the value-conscious consumer and a renewed focus on nutrition is evident in surveys from McKinsey. While 45% of respondents say they will look for ways to save money, another 39% will switch to healthier eating habits. Online shopping is now the preferred fulfillment method for 20% of shoppers, and 17% are willing to pay a premium for environmentally friendly products. These factors indicate that consumers are more socially conscious and expect grocery stores to do their part for sustainability – but also want some relief at the checkout counter. Here are five innovations and trends that will shape the future of grocery stores. 

1. Omnichannel Fulfillment and Greater Customer Convenience

Digital grocery sales will reach $147 billion in 2022 and continue to grow over the next three years, totaling $243 billion by 2025. Grocers who want to cash in on this trend will have to focus on providing full-service options over all digital channels with various fulfillment options. Allowing customers to order for pickup or delivery is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s an essential part of the grocery shopping experience. 

With this positive grocery store outlook, not having a digital sales channel available will lead to fewer revenues and a dwindling customer base. Grocery store operators should also ensure that any digital service includes omnichannel fulfillment, and the experience should be consistent over all mobile devices and e-commerce sites, including voice assistants – as these are becoming more common in households. 

 Digital trends that influence the future of grocery stores

Image Courtesy of McKinsey

2. Healthier and Sustainable Options in the Aisles

Products with healthier attributes will increase sales over the coming years. McKinsey’s survey (referenced above) found that 41% more consumers would look for locally or regionally sourced items. Grocers have an opportunity to market their private-label products that fall into these categories to health-and value-conscious consumers for increased sales and higher revenues. 

Another innovation that leverages this trend is grouping products together according to recipes. Grocers should place products together in the store and be available for online shopping to maximize the convenience for consumers. 

3. Quicker Fulfillment and the Amazon Effect

The Amazon Effect changed consumer expectations to the point where they demand instant gratification when shopping online. Grocers that offer digital grocery shopping services must manage these expectations with same-day delivery or immediate fulfillment. The same applies to in-store fulfillment, as shoppers want to avoid queues at checkouts. Grocery walkout technology allows customers to help themselves throughout the store and limit interactions when paying for groceries.

Some of the different walkout technologies available include:

  • Camera tracking with facial recognition, which scans shoppers and products as they shop in-store
  • Carts and baskets with scanners and readers that track items placed in the container with self-checkout
  • Mobile scanning using two-way QR codes to both track products and collect data about shoppers for greater personalization

Woman demonstrating the future of grocery stores with walkout technology

Image Courtesy of Mercury News

4. Sustainability of the Entire Supply Chain

While consumers are more conscious of the environment and the origin of their products, focusing on sustainability can help grocers just as much. Energy-efficient infrastructure paired with a sustainable supply chain will continue to be a priority for operators. Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) policies will resonate with consumers and strengthen the organization’s brand reputation. This leads to loyal customers who expect companies to lower their carbon footprint, source products sustainably and reduce waste across the entire supply chain. 

5. Workforce Planning and Technology Adoption

With millions of jobs in the grocery industry, artificial intelligence (AI) is helping reduce the burden by tracking inventories automatically and generating analytics about consumption habits about products, allowing grocers to make smarter choices in the future. Organizations are also turning to technology to assist with workforce planning by analyzing store-specific data to allocate resources efficiently.

Find More Trends Shaping the Future of Grocery Stores at SIAL America

The grocery store outlook for the future remains positive, with consumers having a renewed interest in cooking at home and making healthier choices. At SIAL America, you can find out how other grocers are using these trends to grow sales and attract loyal customers. With the grocery industry still at the heart of our communities, the need to evolve with consumer behaviors has never been greater. 

To discover more trends that will transform the future of grocery stores, register to attend the next SIAL America show here