More digital connections and a speedier checkout process rank among the top trends for grocery shopping in 2017, says John Karolefski, veteran supermarket analyst and purveyor of GroceryStories.com.
Karolefski also predicts a more diverse produce department, increased availability of meal kits, and better access to product information.
"The top trends for 2017 will result in improved loyalty to stores and more informed shoppers," says Karolefski. "Expect a more enjoyable shopping experience."
Karolefski's top trends for 2017 are:
More Digital Engagement: Millennials are starting families and becoming major buyers of groceries. To maintain the loyalty of these shoppers, supermarket chains will ramp up their digital tactics. For example, grocers will outfit their stores with beacons, which are sensors embedded throughout a store's shelves, signs and product displays. Beacons interact with smartphones using low-energy Bluetooth signals to provide coupons and other discounts. More grocers will promote their own mobile apps for shoppers to get discounts and specials. Meanwhile, online grocery ordering and delivery will grow as shoppers opt for this convenience.
More Ways to Check Out: Shoppers want to pay for their groceries and leave the store as quickly as possible. Amazon's current test of a No-Checkout store in Seattle, relying on a special mobile app for checking in and out of a store, will increase interest in speedy checkout. Retailers like Sam's Club and Kroger are testing new checkout options such as using a smartphone or a special handheld scanner that enable shoppers to scan and bag products while they shop. Other grocers will follow their lead.
More Diverse Produce Departments: Shoppers will find more organic fruits and vegetables, as well as local produce. Meanwhile, the growing number of Hispanic-American shoppers will prompt grocers to stock such products as tomatillos and jicama. These trends will result in more diverse produce departments in 2017.
More Meal Kits: Grocery shoppers will be able to choose from a variety of "meal kits" that burst onto the scene with such startups as Plated, Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. Giant Eagle began selling its own meal kits this year, and more grocers will do the same in 2017. Meanwhile, manufacturers such as ConAgra and Campbell Soup have launched their own meal kits, and other food makers will follow.
More Access to Product Information: Nearly 30,000 grocery products will bear a new SmartLabel on packages by the end of 2017 to give consumers easy access to detailed information about what they are buying. Shoppers will be able to scan this sophisticated barcode in the store or do an online search to reach a landing page for information on ingredients and other attributes of a wide range of consumer packaged goods.