3 min read

Is Digital Changing The In-Store Shopper Journey?

Is Digital Changing The In-Store Shopper Journey?
Photo by Jenna Day / Unsplash

For the past few weeks, shopnosis.io has been collecting shopper data related to cellphone and QR code use in grocery stores. With data complied from different retailers from various geographies, we wanted to find out if and how the shopper journey is changing with online grocery shopping on the rise.

With shelf space at a premium and trade marketing at POS being notoriously expensive, brands have had to come up with innovative ways to engage their buyers. One of the more promising innovations was the QR code, which didn't really take off...but more on that below.

When the pandemic hit, many people shifted to online grocery shopping as a way to keeping safe...and who could blame them? At this time, many retailers were not well-equipped to provide easy navigation and check-out.

Fast forward to the second year of the pandemic and an overwhelming majority of people are tentatively making their way back to in-store shopping. However, tactics for more efficient shopping have evolved and this includes bringing the digital to the in-store.

Where does this leave brands and retailers?

To answer that question, we need to circle back to the title of this article. Has the shopper journey shifted so much that providing a hybrid approach to grocery shopping has become inescapable?

In a nutshell: the shopper journey is changing, but slowly, and with no dramatic effects yet. Phones and digital experiences are still far from being an essential shopping tool in grocery stores.

Let's examine what is exactly happening. This article aims to answer two questions:

  1. Are shoppers using their cellphones while grocery shopping? And how?
  2. What will the future bring?

1.  Are shoppers using their cellphones while grocery shopping? And how?

The short answer is yes...ish.

Wanting to get a feel for the current state of cellphone usage when grocery shopping, we conducted preliminary research on phone usage in-store.

We found that only 50% of grocery shoppers reached for their phones during a 15min trip, and only for an average of 30 seconds at a time.

Of those who reached for their phones:

  • 20% of people used the retailer app
  • 9% checked recipes online
  • 9% consulted a pre-planned shopping list

Many people (the other 50%) have not yet equated cellphone use to in-store shopping. Cellphone use (if used at all) was restricted to non-grocery-related activities by the general public.

2. What will the future bring?

Several technologies that might fundamentally change in-store journeys are on the horizon, like AR. But in the meantime, QR codes might be the easiest way to effectively bridge the gap between the online and offline. As mentioned above, QR codes had the right idea of simply scanning with a phone and having additional information of the product pop up.

Our research suggests shoppers like the idea of QR codes, but 80% say they've never had a chance to actually use them.

Some benefits of having QR codes on shelf would be:

  • Promotions, Discounts, Loyalty Programs
  • Product Authenticity
  • “Learn More” Features: Recipes, Recycling Projects
  • Blockchain Information

QR codes were a good idea before their time, before there was a need to combine online shopping with offline. But now, that need is beginning to grow and this just might be the best way to do it.

Food For Thought

There you have it. The shopper journey is changing, but not at an alarming rate: even a global pandemic is not enough to keep shoppers from their local grocery stores. But the knowledge that there is a shift happening (no matter how slowly) should not be disregarded.  

There is a lot of 'digital' space to claim in grocery stores, and brands need to find an effective way of bridging the digital-physical gap to provide a seamless shopping experience. Retailers too, in the future will need to invest in their apps  to provide that quick and easy store and product information shoppers demand.

Shopnosis specializes in understanding shopper journeys and testing & optimizing QR communication at place of purchase.

Feel free to get in touch: info@shopnosis.io

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