Over the past year, the grocery industry has entered an entirely new world and faced new challenges. This has pushed retailers to look into how to improve grocery shopping experience for their customers.
Independent grocers must keep up with changing customer expectations to survive and compete against large national chains and other independent grocers. Customers need stores to adapt to their changing needs and buying habits. Especially their evolving preferences for how they shop and the fast and convenient experience they want.
It’s also critical to focus on maintaining a human touch. That’s what sets many independent grocers apart and builds loyalty, even with today’s more savvy and demanding consumers. Using custom-tailored technology strategies is the key to combining the best of both worlds. This allows retailers to adapt and thrive in this new environment.
By embracing change and adopting new technologies and service models, independent grocers can be more attentive to shoppers. They can also meet their demand for a quicker, more convenient, and hassle-free shopping experience.
Below are different ways grocers can do this with a combination of hardware, point of sale (POS), and store management software.
How to Improve Grocery Shopping Experience Using Smart Technology
E-Commerce, Curbside Pickup and Delivery
According to the latest data from Nielsen, online food and beverage sales increased by 83% to $39 billion from January 2020 to January 2021. And a huge part of that trend has been online food and grocery product shopping for curbside pickup or delivery.
Today’s consumers expect and increasingly prefer to shop for their groceries online, especially for curbside pickups. When they do, they don’t want to deal with hassles such as:
- Products being out of stock,
- Inability to fulfill orders on the same day, or
- Having to drive and wait in the parking lot for their curbside pickup because a store cannot keep up with scheduling and demand.
What Smart Technologies Can Do
At Data Cash Register, we’ve teamed up with Zebra Technologies and our other business partners. We assist grocers in implementing and optimizing online shopping, curbside pickups and deliveries. We do this with a combination of:
- LOC Store Management Suite and POS,
- Zebra mobile and tablet computing solutions,
- Barcode scanners and printers.
Using these technologies, we can connect store inventory and POS systems with in-store or third-party e-commerce and delivery systems. They make it easy for people to shop, pay, and arrange curbside pickup or home delivery at their convenience.
We equip store staff with the mobile technologies to receive, pick and manage orders, and to ensure the correct inventory is in place. Regardless of whether you’re fulfilling orders from a store or warehouse, and either on your own or through a third-party delivery provider.
The solution varies depending on your existing business model and systems, your customer needs, and your business goals. But there are many easy-to-deploy tools and integrations available to expedite and simplify grocery e-commerce. There are affordable and manageable options for virtually any store and budget.
The key is to act and create solutions quickly because the retail industry and customer expectations have transformed dramatically. Convenience is contagious, and it’s only going to become more important in the future. Since many people shop for food and groceries online, things aren’t going to return to the way they were before.
A pre-pandemic report by PYMNTS.com found that 71% of consumers have gone through self-checkouts in supermarkets. Another survey was performed by SOTI, an IOT and mobile device management firm. It found that 73% of shoppers prefer retail self-checkouts over engaging with store associates.
These figures have been growing even larger over the past year, as stores have implemented more self-checkouts. They allow handling unprecedented foot traffic and offer safer ways for customers to pay for their groceries and get on their way.
Consumers like self-checkouts because of their speed and convenience. Meanwhile, grocery stores also benefit by requiring fewer associates and less labor to provide checkouts.
Instead, they can reassign associates to curbside pickups, deliveries, or mobile customer service where their human touch can play a crucial role. As a result, it can be a key differentiator in providing a superior shopping experience and resolving customers questions or issues.
However, it’s important to remember that self-checkouts must function well to make all of this possible. For example, a recent report by RetailWire found that nearly 80% of consumers needed assistance at least once during their self-checkout experience. Almost 30% were pulled aside by store associates to check their purchases.
These interruptions and inconveniences are the last thing that anyone wants in the self-checkout lane. So, it’s crucial to make the experience as simple, intuitive, and frictionless as possible.
What Smart Technologies Can Do
One easy way to improve self-checkout is by deploying Digital Cash Register self-service kiosks powered by Zebra’s MP7000 grocery scanners and scales.
Zebra’s MP7000 combines multi-plane 1D/2D bioptic imaging with advanced scanning performance and simplicity. It speeds up and error-proofs the checkout for maximum convenience. The combination of self-service digital kiosks and the MP7000 facilitates a checkout with easy-to-use touch screen displays and intuitive software. It provides information and prompts, guiding customers through the entire process.
They don’t have to deal with poor screen layouts and follow inaccurate instructions. This reduces or completely eliminates confusion and errors with scanning, bagging, loyalty cards, and other parts of the checkout process.
They can scan their items and check out quickly and reliably, without the headaches of needing assistance. Plus, they’ll notice an immediate difference. As soon as they scan their first product, they discover that the MP7000 successfully captures product barcodes from virtually any angle.
Faster and More Contactless In-Lane Checkouts
Today’s consumers don’t just want speed and convenience when it comes to self-checkouts. They want the same qualities in traditional checkout lanes, and this is another area where POS software and technology play a huge role.
What Can Smart Technology Do
Cashiers can simply move an item through the scanning area. The MP7000 scans the barcode so quickly and easily that many are amazed and delighted at the difference such a simple improvement can make.
The MP7000’s advanced scanning algorithms capture virtually every barcode in an instant. It can handle printed barcodes on products or labels and electronic ones such as digital coupons on a customer’s mobile device.
An optional customer-side scanner that allows customers to scan their electronic and physical coupons. Clients can also scan loyalty cards and impulse purchases while they’re checking out. This way, cashiers don’t have to scan these items and aren’t slowed down.
With Zebra technology, cashiers and customers can also scan and capture checks, receipts, loyalty cards, and even utility bills. This allows transactions to process faster and stores to extend scanning automation to more services for their customer base.
However, Zebra’s MP7000 delivers a lot more than just scanning performance. It also offers the lowest power consumption in the grocery industry, requiring 60% less power than other competing devices.
The MP7000 comes with solid state technology that provides superior durability with no moving parts. As a result, it has the fewest failure points in its class, results in fewer repairs, and far more uptime. Its total cost of ownership (TCO) is also much lower.
The upper housing is designed with fewer components and parts as well. Due to this, it can be removed without tools for much faster maintenance and repair time.
Mobile Technology-Enabled Customer Service
Most consumers today never leave their home without a smartphone. Many shop for groceries online using web-based apps on smartphones or tablets. Mobile devices put the tools they need for voice calls, texting, shopping, and productivity at their fingertips. Studies show that shoppers expect grocery store associates to be similarly equipped for a better customer experience.
A recent survey revealed that 73% of store associates think the latest technology allows them to offer a better shopping experience. 58% of shoppers agree. When associates have enterprise-grade mobile computers, they can deliver a better in-store shopping experience in a variety of ways. This includes managing stock, helping customers find products in the store, or assisting with curbside pickup or online grocery purchases.
What Smart Technologies Can Do
You can use the LOC mFloor grocery mobile app and Zebra’s MC55 touch handheld mobile computers or ET51 tablets with built-in scanners. This combination can help your employees quickly locate inventory, call for assistance, and manage fulfillment.
You can also deploy Zebra ZQ620 mobile printers with the above-mentioned devices. With it, associates can stock and label products faster and more effectively, and update prices for special sales and promotions much faster. Once again, improving in-store customer experience.
LOC’s POS and online shopping software can also be mobilized with Zebra mobile devices and printers to manage curbside pickups and deliveries. This helps automate these processes and allows staff to provide an outstanding mobile experience wherever it’s needed. It can be at any location – the curbside, designated pickup spaces in the parking lot, or a customer’s doorstep.
Determining the Right Zebra Technology For Your Store
Zebra’s smart technology strategies can give you a crucial advantage in today’s competitive grocery market. But the ideal strategies and solutions depend on your company’s unique needs and goals.
That’s where our team at Data Cash Register can step in. We will evaluate the latest grocery Zebra Technologies and service models and assess your systems and capabilities. We can also plot the right course for improving your in-store experience and optimizing your grocery operations.
If you’d like to know more, contact us to schedule a discovery session and a complimentary technology assessment. Let’s get to work on meeting your customers’ expectations.