Convenience will lead to a “new wave” of innovation in supermarkets

9th Jun 2015

Just two months ago, consumer watchdog, Which? declared that it would use its legal power to issue an unprecedented ‘super-complaint’ to tackle UK supermarket pricing promotions.

Combine this with further revelations about price promotions in May, the industry shake-up caused by discount stores such as Aldi and Lidl and the woes unearthered at Tesco earlier in the year, and all in all the first half of 2015 has been fairly momentous for the supermarket sector.

However, the events that have occurred this year may be masking another more important industry trend, according to a new survey.

Questioning consumers about new grocery trends, retail marketing agency Savvy found a substantial shift occurring in how people shop online that could pave the way for a “new wave” of market growth in the coming few years.  

While 74% of shoppers cite convenience as their primary motivation for online grocery shopping, a huge proportion of respondents say they expect online shopping platforms to evolve to include new features to make the process even more convenient and improve the experience in the next 12 months.

For instance, 50% said they’d like to see high quality video content on supermarket websites, including recipe instructions with links to ingredient purchasing.

The ability to add the ingredients of a recipe to their online shopping basket from any recipe site was appealing to 51% of respondents, while 59% would like to see highly targeted suggestions of products they might like as they shop online.

Interestingly, 61% of these shoppers want to receive coupons direct to their phones and said they would like to see mobile apps replace their loyalty cards.

“While the industry typically defines convenience as a format of store, from the shoppers’ perspective, convenience is about making their lives easier,” says Alastair Lockhart, insight director at Savvy.

“To them it is of paramount importance, irrespective of retailer, channel and format. This point is strikingly reinforced by the findings of our research, highlighting that online plays a crucial role in a retailers’ ability to deliver a broader convenience strategy.”

In January, Planet Retail’s global research director, Natalie Berg stated that she expected to see a degradation of customer loyalty in supermarket chains through the course of 2015, and Savvy’s latest research suggests that this may well be the case.

However, Alastair Lockhart adds that technology is likely to be central to how supermarket brands maintain future loyalty, and that convenience would only become more important in determining how the success of new technology:

Online shopping has become more convenient itself. Consider how smartphones and tablets allow shoppers to access their online shopping baskets at any time without the need to log on. Not only can shoppers do this from anywhere in their home, but from any location when it suits them. Also, we see initiatives like click and collect attracting new shoppers into online grocery retailing.

“The growing use of smart devices also has important implications for brands and retailers alike. No longer do shopper sit down to their whole shop in one go – increasingly they’re adding to their baskets bit by bit, taking inspiration from the real world around them, whether that be a TV ad, a recommendation from a friend or noticing something in the cupboard is running out. Above-the-line advertising, for example, is no longer only about building brands, it can be an important call to action, prompting shoppers to buy.”           

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