Phononic, Durham, N.C., announced the findings of a study that revealed consumers’ grocery shopping preferences. Phononic surveyed 1,100 adults across the United States to understand the current retail landscape and the services shoppers would like grocery stores to offer in the future.

“In just the past year, we have witnessed a huge amount of disruption in the food retail landscape, as Amazon continues to put pressure on traditional grocers to differentiate the customer experience and offer increased in-store efficiency,” says Dana Krug, vice president and general manager, food and beverage. “Consumers’ feedback demonstrates the need for grocers to embrace technology options that make the shopping experience easier and more enjoyable. And, as we look toward the future, it’s clear that consumers have some high demands for the technology applications they expect grocers to invest in – from cashier-less checkout to self-driving car delivery.”

Key highlights include:

In-store innovation

  • Half of consumers (51%) still feel grocers need to enter the modern age to stay relevant, however this was a slight decrease from 56% in the 2018 survey, showing consumers are recognizing grocers’ efforts.
  • Checkout convenience is top-of-mind for consumers, with 89% noting it’s important that grocery stores use technology better and/or more efficiently to make checkout faster. Additionally, 79% of consumers feel the majority of supermarkets will be primarily self-checkout in 5 years.
  • Freedom of placement will shape next-generation store layout, with over half (52%) of consumers expecting refrigerated and frozen items to be distributed throughout the store, rather than only placed in the back or side of the store – where traditional compressor-based refrigerators are required to be placed because of size, vibration and heat emissions. 

The modern shopping experience 

  • The majority of consumers consider grocery shopping a chore, with half of Americans (50%) saying grocery shopping is something they have to do but don’t necessarily want to. Another 12% went further, saying they’d be happy to never step foot inside a grocery store again.
  • For those who do like shopping, it’s the communal aspect and product discovery that draws them in, with 28% saying they “love” the experience of shopping at their local store where they know people and people know them. This sentiment is even stronger among Millennials, who are more likely than any other generation (36%) to note they appreciate the communal aspect of grocery shopping. Additionally, 30% of consumers say grocery shopping is like a “mini-holiday” where they can browse aisles and hunt for treasures.
  • Consumers feel strongly about buying from brands that care about sustainability and giving back. In fact, 73% gravitate to companies that prove they care about the environment and two-thirds (67%) say it’s important that they buy from a company that uses more sustainable cooling technology.

Food delivery options 

  • Meal delivery options are still struggling to attract shoppers, with 58% of consumers responding they have yet to try them. While the number of consumers who tried a meal delivery service increased from 34% in 2018 to 42% in 2019, consumers still see a number of barriers in terms of convenience, cost and storage.
  • Consumers want to choose their own products. In fact, 85% of Americans say part of the fun of grocery shopping is being able to see the various options and the experience of being in the store. More than half (52%) of consumers also cite the in-store experience of selecting their own food as the reason they haven’t tried a meal delivery service.
  • Self-driving cars could pave the way for food delivery’s future, with 56% of Americans predicting that groceries will be delivered by self-driving cars in the next 5 years.