COVID-19’s Impact on Retail Grocery

We recently teamed up with our partners at Agilence, Inc. to gather data from decision-makers in the grocery industry about how COVID-19 has impacted their business, how they’ve managed this change, and what plans they have in place for a post-pandemic world. 

With the Agilence team, we developed a brief survey that we shared with both our current customers and prospective grocery customers. The survey was anonymous, so the results were not skewed by any type of vendor-bias.

The target respondent for this survey were individuals in roles that are considered “decision makers” when evaluating and selecting technology platforms for their organization. We received 45 unique and total completed surveys from decision-makers in the grocery industry. The raw data from those responses was gathered up, summarized, and reformatted into this report. 

As states begin to re-open, grocery industry leaders were asked to indicate which practices brought on by COVID-19 they would discontinue, continue, and adopt permanently.

Which of these initiatives do you see your customers wanting to continue post-pandemic?

  • 75% of respondents said they believe customers would like social distancing between associates & customers – including sneeze guard at the register – to continue
  • 59% of respondents said customers would like more flexible shopping options such as frictionless checkout to continue
  • 50% of respondents said they believe customers would like special hours for seniors & high-risk citizens to continue
  • 41% of respondents said customers would like to have associates continue to visibly wear PPE
  • Only 19% of respondents believe customers will want a mandated PPE policy for shoppers

Respondents were asked how important do they think “safety & cleanliness” will be to their marketing/brand message over the coming year.

It is clear that grocers view the perception of cleanliness & safety as a high-priority initiative. Solution providers should take note as they try to assist grocers evolving needs. 

Of the IT investment grocers plan to make from now until the end of 2021, respondents saw IT spend occurring across various types of technology initiatives. 

Future grocery initiatives were ranked on a scale from most important to least important by decision-makers.

73% of respondents are actively working on internal plans to address a potential second wave of COVID-19 this Fall and/or future pandemics. 

27% of respondents are not working on internal plans to address a second wave of COVID-19 this Fall and/or future pandemics. This is because:
– They are still addressing the initial wave of COVID-19.
– They believe their current systems in place will address any future problems.

Advice From Industry Leaders… 

  • Have a solid business continuity/crisis management plan but be flexible
  • Ask for help when needed, even if that means expanding your supply chain
  • Act quickly to increase the confidence and safety of shoppers and staff members
  • Encourage associates to stay home when they are sick
  • Clear, simple, prioritized, and consistent communication with staff and customers is essential
  • Stay informed by using the resources from the CDC, FMI, and other experts