Out of the Comfort Zone: Grocery Industry 's Next Avatar

By Arshaad Mirza

Founder of Delivery Solutions (acquired by UPS) 

The Grocery Industry has been responsive and adaptive to change throughout the pandemic and beyond. Retailers discovered how communities preferred interacting with their grocers and embraced new technologies for public health, convenience, and providing value to consumers. The transformations will continue, focusing more on the consumer experience after the cart.

The state of the Grocery Industry is in flux, at the cusp of an evolution fueled by customer experience, which will impact retailers' bottom lines. As a result, there is a growing importance to creating a strategy behind Omnichannel Experience Management as consumers expect more significant and tailored shopping experiences, and the online and brick-and-mortar worlds blur. eCommerce and store operations will couple more tightly than ever, supporting each other, particularly in the grocery space.

The shift towards "Beyond the Cart" experiences means consumers expect retailers to keep them at the center of attention, even post-purchase. As a result, there will be increased demand for real-time visibility, superior digital customer service, and straightforward returns processes, with multiple options for replacement, disposition, and reselling opportunities, all within a unified brand experience.

The industry is at a watershed moment. When an industry attracts the disruption that Retail has had in recent years, fundamental changes in consumerism are assured.

The grocery space will also see a higher rate of technology adaption in 2023, like real-time driver tracking, package tracking, and placing visibility controls directly into the hands of consumers. We can also expect retailers to use third parties to own a product's post-purchase lifecycle, including returns and replacements. Keeping the consumer at the center of attention culminates technologically with NFTs and the metaverse, allowing individuals to interact with their favorite brands' physical and digital goods in their choice of contextual commerce spaces.

Whether on a retailer's website, or a marketplace, how a brand's products are accessed will create contextual and dispersed commerce. It will be crucial to make those products available, with context, where consumers spend their time online in the metaverse. Once those actions lead to sales and hit the real-world supply chain, new channels will be born. Orchestrating these new channels, focusing on experience, will play a significant role in third-party technologies for the Grocery segment this year.

Overall it's appropriate to expect the continued growth of eCommerce revenue for the Grocery Industry this year, particularly across Pickup, Delivery, Returns, and Post Purchase interactions. The industry is shifting closer to "Beyond the Cart." My grocery segment clients already know the importance "consumer experience" plays across their omnichannel strategy. Even before COVID, our grocery retailers recognized the need for a flexible and efficient way to handle delivery orchestration. The same will be accomplished for post-purchase experiences.

There is a need to provide customers with optionality. Doing so means investing in the lifetime value of consumers by providing better post-purchase experiences. Retailers leverage third parties to bring focus, innovation, and disruption to the entire "Beyond the Cart" lifecycle. If the state of the Grocery this year has an underlying theme, it will make post-purchase, returns, and replacements more sustainable, profitable, and delightful.

The State of the GROCERY INDUSTRY 2023

FEB 2023