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The Top 5 Grocery Consumer Expectations of 2021

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Grocery Store

Consumer behaviors have shifted dramatically due to the pandemic, and trends are pointing straight at a refined customer experience in 2021. Forbes breaks down 11 customer experience changes that are taking place right now to meet the 2021 consumer, but we want to take in a more specific direction. 


Here are the top 5 consumer expectations as it relates to the grocery industry in 2021.

1. Clean, sanitized, and spacious stores

Now that consumers have a new, long-lasting hesitation to enter any physical stores, they have developed more demanding safety expectations than ever before. Consumers are ultimately looking for brands and chains that ensure safety and the proper precautions are being taken by all employees. Grocery chains are expected to offer a safe and sterilized environment with additional space in aisles and displays to allow customer traffic to move bi-directionally in each aisle with a safe distance between shoppers.

Grocery retailers who actively market their safety practices and convenient service options, as well as changes made to stores to fit the new environment, will bring those hesitant customers back in 2021. 


2. Consumer convenience 

The push for online ordering and pick-up or delivery has been paramount for grocery chains during the pandemic. McKinsey reports that 80% of customers that sign up and use an online food delivery brand will never or rarely leave for another platform. That’s why enabling your customers to have a touchless experience has been critical and will continue for years to come, based on convenience. 

Read more: Deliver Your Food, And Your Customer Experience, The Right Way

As we look to the future, and we go back to our busy schedules, the ability to quickly go online and select from your frequently purchased grocery list and have them delivered to your home (within hours of ordering) will be vital to remain competitive in the grocery industry. Just make sure to avoid these three main pitfalls in grocery curbside pickup service.


3. Maintenance of stock

You remember when the pandemic started – there were hardly any paper products or canned goods left on the shelves. As a result, there’s a new challenge for grocery chains: 2021 grocery consumers will expect stores to maintain stock levels despite varying availability due to supply chain interruptions and distribution delays. Additionally, consumers are looking for brands that provide a large variety of products and services that are fresh, diverse, and appealing.


4. Genuine, friendly service

These are difficult times. Everyone is under a lot of pressure. As a result, consumers are looking for genuine, kind experiences in the stores they visit – because purchases are driven by emotion. Grocery chains should prioritize excellent customer service, which includes helpful and friendly associates that are willing to go above and beyond to assist customers. This moves the consumer through their store experience a lot smoother – and safer. And it leads to customer loyalty in a time when it’s most needed for chains to flourish.

Read more: Strengthening Brand Presence in the Grocery Industry


5. An all-in-one experience

Today’s consumers are seeking low customer effort for products and services. They want to quickly pick-up items for meal preparation, visit the pharmacy for prescription refills, fill their vehicle with gas, and do their banking all in one trip – and ideally, within one location.

Most grocery chains now offer in-store dining, prepared meals-to-go, pharmacy, banking and fuel stations for busy consumers. Make sure you’re thinking outside the box as a grocery chain and focusing on every aspect of the customer experience.


Grocery Chains: Here’s What’s Next

By listening to their customers and measuring customer service standards, grocery brands can stay ahead of the curve and deliver what their customers need and want most. Customer Satisfaction Surveys serve as a constant listening-post for customers and highlight customer perception and trends, but here’s where a grocery brand should start their customer experience measurement strategy: Mystery Shopping.

Mystery Shopping measures operational standards and brand performance. Store Audits to ensure compliance with operational and safety standards help store leadership make updates as rapidly as possible to maximize safety and customer satisfaction. If you’re not sure where to start, here’s how you can figure out the right focus for your Mystery Shopping program. Companies like Second To None can also help you create a well-rounded strategy that’s specific to your grocery chain. 

Read more: Ideal Goals for a Mystery Shopping Program

Make sure your grocery chain is meeting 2021 expectations

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