SPECIAL REPORT: 2024 Grocery Tech Trends

Compared with last year, new tools like voice-enabled technology and in-store robots are viewed more favorably. Additionally, being ever mindful of lingering inflation and budget concerns, consumers continue to use and appreciate technology that provides incentives and savings, such as digital coupons and loyalty programs. In fact, 52% cite “more digital discount offers/promotions” as the most valued technology that their store could add in the next 12 to 18 months. Meanwhile, one-third say that they’re willing to try cash-back reward programs like Ibotta and Shopkick. Retailers should take note of this and would be smart to work strategically and creatively to deliver better value experiences for their shoppers, both in-store and online.

Self-checkout kiosks remain the most preferred checkout method, particularly among younger shoppers, while mobile app contactless payment has gained usage considerably from last year (52% say that they use it regularly in this year’s survey, compared with 46% last year).

A few shoppers offer some innovative ideas of their own about how grocers could enhance the in-store experience. One respondent suggests offering an app with real-time updates for freshly made items in the store, i.e. “fresh Italian bread just came out of the oven in the bakery.” Another suggests an app that would list products’ ingredients, while several mention alerting shoppers about specials and items on sale while also letting store employees know when a shelf needs to be restocked.

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Despite their resounding enthusiasm for technology, almost half of the shoppers surveyed express concern that tech is replacing humans in grocery stores, and 32% say that they value having a balance of tech and in-store staff.

This isn’t surprising, considering shoppers’ top pain points in the store, which include out-of-stocks (48% cite this factor, which is less than in 2023); the checkout experience (35%, up slightly from 2023); not finding what they’re looking for (33%); not enough staff (27%); and lack of product variety and selection (24%).

Online Shopping Trends

Although most grocery trips are still made in the store, online shopping with delivery is increasing. Forty-three percent of shoppers say that they used online shopping with delivery at least once in the past month, and 52% now use it regularly.

Meanwhile, one-third of shoppers are regularly using curbside or in-store pickup, with about half of Gen Z and Millennials using these methods at least once a month.

Retailers seem to be squarely on board with these trends: Most of them predict that delivery, ultra-fast delivery and curbside pickup are the online ordering methods that will drive the most e-commerce growth in the next 12 to 18 months.

Among the consumers who don’t use online grocery shopping, 73% say that they prefer to pick products themselves in person, and around 40% don’t want items to be substituted or don’t trust the accuracy or quality of products selected. Just over 30% say that prices and fees are too expensive. Retailers might be able to attract these naysayers by offering free trials or other promotions related to online ordering. 

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