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What a year it’s been for retail. Hit hard by the pandemic, grocers in particular pivoted overnight to adjust to changing times.

Launching, or hugely boosting, click & collect slots; reconfiguring for social distancing; offering more self-checkouts (SCO) and personal shopping services; as well as other measures, bear testament to a remarkable pace of innovation. 

As we look forward to hopefully a brighter future, we need to ask, ‘What’s next’.

To answer that question, it’s imperative to analyze the post-COVID consumer. What do they want, expect, and need? Below are 5 things that we’ve learnt from shopper research, and discussions with retailers – we explain them in more detail in our new whitepaper 'Mobility, Agility and Profitability.

  • Social distancing remains important: COVID-19 will have a lasting effect 75% of shoppers say they want to get in and out of stores as quickly as possible. Furthermore, they are keen to have the opportunity to shop with less contact – 54% say that there are not enough SCOs in stores. And the vast majority of people (87%) say that SCOs improve their experience.
  • Values are changing: Our retail customers are seeing shoppers prioritize local, ethical, sustainable, and wellness products more than they were before. As a consequence, stores may need to increase the variety of SKUs they hold.
  • Omnichannel integration must be amped: Most retailers have made great progress in integrating mobile, physical and online shopping. But if work remains to be done, we’d urge that it’s done quickly. We’re talking about full, seamless integration. So, if someone has searched online before a shopping trip ideally, they’d be served relevant ads when they’re in-store, likewise, if they’ve just purchased something on their mobile the item would be available to pick-up immediately from their local store. 
  • Personalization is key: We’ve all become so used to being served highly customized ads, and useful offers from online brands, that privacy concerns have receded. Indeed, shoppers increasingly expect stores to also offer smart and personalized promotions that reflect their spending habits and preferences across all channels. In fact, 37% are willing to share their shopping list before they come in to store with the expectation that they will receive a more personalized experience. That experience may entail using Personal Shopping devices to guide them to their items and upselling complementary products to go alongside those in their basket.
  • Journeys are critical: We feel it’s essential to recognize what type of shopper is in store by the journeys they are on. Journeys typically fall into two categories. The first is a short journey where someone is popping for a few items. Speed is essential for these customers, with 54% saying that SCOs are their preferred checkout method. The second category is the longer weekly shop. These shoppers have more time and are likely to interact with more touchpoints and more devices and are more open to loyalty-based offers and discounts. To better serve different journeys the checkout will look different over the next five years.

    It will need less space and be more flexible, with a mix of SCOs, options for Scan & Go and Self Scanning customers to check out directly from the store device, and the freedom to make  payments on a SCO, a dedicated POS lane or anywhere via a Mobile POS (POS). The combination of SCO and Self Scanning is offering the choice for consumers to shop with convenience according to the size of their basket. We typically see shoppers:

    • Use smartphones where they have 1 to 3 items
    • Use SCOs for up 15 items
    • Use self-scanning solutions for baskets above 15 items

Open Innovation – permanently
So what does all of this mean? Well, we think that the speed of innovation with which retail responded to the pandemic will need to be maintained. To support this, the technology platforms that underpin retail must be open become more versatile to quickly adjust to new consumer journeys or changing shopper sentiment and to close the perception gap that all the best ideas happen online. 

In response to this priority we’ve created ‘Storevolution’ – a vision for today and for the future of retail. It’s designed to create genuinely frictionless experiences for shoppers. Storevolution is built on a comprehensive understanding of market trends, consumer and staff journeys and relevant technology cornerstones that enable retailers to operate with greater agility and sustainability. Mobile apps, devices and platforms are inherently versatile and make it easier to roll out new services. They also help your associates create great experiences for customers while improving job satisfaction, and accelerating store operations from checking inventory to returns management – and beyond. 

Our new whitepaper ‘Mobility, Agility and Profitability’ looks in more depth at the Storevolution strategy and how to offer shoppers more convenient and personalized experiences that increase loyalty, drive-up throughput, and grow basket sizes by as much as between 6 and 10 percent. 

1,2Zebra Retail Vision Study: The Essential Shopper Experience: Safety, Speed and Convenience
3Zebra 2020 Shopper Study: The Retail Perspective
4Nielsen, Grocery Shopping Consumer Survey, 2020

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