Utilizing intelligent technology to meet customers’ evolving demands
In Session AI’s Thought Leadership Interview series, we sit down with experts from across industries to discuss the latest movements and technologies transforming the customer experience.
Throughout 2020, there has been a shift in consumer behavior around grocery shopping. Being able to conveniently receive their desired goods in various ways—like buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) or delivery—has accelerated a widespread adoption of technology in many grocery stores that previously had been in the early stages of digital innovation. As such, grocery retailers have been charged to take an omni-channel approach to shopping, and utilize data to better understand and engage shoppers.
Roopa Acharya, Vice President of Software Engineering at Albertsons, recently sat down with Debjani Deb, CEO and Co-founder of Session AI, to discuss the shift in consumer behavior and what the future of grocery retail holds. In the discussion, she covered:
- Why the shift in consumer behavior has taken place
- How customer behaviors have recently changed
- What the future of grocery retail technology looks like
Why the sudden shift?
The COVID-19 pandemic drastically escalated consumers’ grocery needs. In the span of a few weeks, grocery chains like Albertsons saw a 10X revenue growth that required it to scale up its enterprise to keep up with demand and provide customers with safe and personalized service in an uncertain time.
While COVID-19 accelerated the rise of technology in grocery, retailers and grocery chains were already seeing an increase prior to the pandemic in customers—familiar with online retail shopping—looking for digital solutions in their grocery experience. The shift to an increasingly digital grocery experience, therefore, is more about serving existing customers, rather than attracting new customers. In turn, grocery stores are aiming to better serve customers by providing added-benefits beyond acting as a central location to purchase food. This includes offering personalized reward mechanisms and incentives targeted to grocery shoppers to make them feel valued.
What customer behaviors have changed?
With an increase in delivery and curbside pickup, there is a greater focus in grocery chains on fulfilling customer’s needs through the “last mile” of delivery—the moment customers receive their goods. Here, stores like Albertsons found that delivery updates and communication with the customer are more important than ever.
Understanding consumer behavior has also required grocers to pivot from previous strategies. Grocers need to look at the consumer genome, and understand what context means in this new world where factors like location and weather are more relevant. For example, the shopper could be located anywhere—not necessarily inside a brick and mortar store. Grocery stores must be able to take contextual factors into account to provide incentives and rewards that provide value in the moment.
What does the future of grocery look like?
The future of the grocery industry will feature greater data and technology in order to provide shoppers a more personalized experience. Through a 360° view of the consumer, grocery retailers can improve their rapport and maintain a long-term relationship with the customer.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can help in regard to understanding a shopper’s behavior and determining what their specific needs are. These applications can glean information to achieve a 360° view and inform the grocery store of the shoppers typical behaviors, past purchases, location, demographics, and more. Through these 1:1 insights, grocers can personalize outreach directly to the customer. For example, consider a person who frequently purchases gluten-free items. When a new gluten-free cookie option is added to the store, the grocer can send a $1 coupon for the cookies.
2020 has brought many changes to the grocery retail landscape. By adopting intelligent personalization solutions, grocery stores can deliver more connected, seamless, and value-added experiences to their shoppers—all the way to the last mile.
Interested in learning more? Check out the full interview with Roopa Acharya to learn more about the shift of technology in grocery retail.