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Grocery Store Customer Experience: A Brief Insight

Grocery Store Customer Experience: A Brief Insight

As grocers fight for space in customers' pantries (and minds), letting someone hang alone in their store for five minutes without assistance is not an experience they want to provide. (Hint: we actually found this data.)

According to Oracle, nearly 40% of shoppers would shop at a different grocery store if they had a bad customer experience.

When customers walk through the doors of their local grocery store, they carry with them a set of expectations grounded by years of shopping memory. They expect nothing less than knowledgeable staff, clean stores, fresh products, and great customer service. 

But, with so many shopping options, convenience has become a crucial aspect of the overall experience. Online shopping, curbside pickup, mobile apps, and loyalty programs are gaining popularity, providing more reasons for shoppers to stay loyal to their favorite stores.

According to a recent study conducted by our team, over 30% of customers who previously purchased essentials in-store have now shifted to making consistent online purchases for items such as groceries, toilet paper, and cleaning products.

To better understand the customer experience at different grocery stores, Intouch recently conducted mystery shopping research across 5 popular grocery chains: Trader Joe’s, Wegmans, Publix, Kroger, and Aldi. 

We sent mystery shoppers to 15 locations across Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Maryland, Virginia, and New York. 

The Shoppers’ task? Search an aisle for 5 minutes. If not approached by a store associate, seek one out and ask about a brand or product they sell.

Ready to dive into our findings?

Customer Service and the Grocery Experience

As the saying goes, "First impressions matter". And this is especially true when it comes to creating a positive shopping experience. 

Imagine walking into a store and being welcomed with a warm smile, receiving recommendations from knowledgeable staff, and being thanked for your visit at the checkout. These little things can make a huge difference in building customer loyalty and driving repeat purchases.

According to our study, 68% of mystery shoppers were greeted upon entry, which set a positive tone for their visit. However, 32% of visitors didn't receive a greeting, which may have negatively impacted their perception of the store's atmosphere and service. 

The data also shows that human connection is essential. When customers are thanked for their visit, friendliness is rated 36% higher

When it comes to knowledgeable staff, four out of five brands scored over 80% on providing helpful recommendations

Knowledgeable staff fosters trust and credibility, making the store a reliable source of expertise in the competitive grocery landscape. 

Providing helpful recommendations also had a positive impact on friendliness. When shoppers were given helpful suggestions, the friendliness score was 47% higher.

However, there's still room for improvement in customer service. Only 11% of shoppers received assistance within a minute of seeking help, while 44% experienced no help at all. Delays in assistance not only frustrate customers but also impact the store's reputation, which can potentially lead to lost revenue.

Want to see all the data collected in this study? Download the American Grocery Experience Insights here.

The Role of Operations in the Grocery Experience

The study shows that cleanliness is a key factor driving customer experience for grocery stores. 

In fact, shoppers reported 17% higher satisfaction when the store's cleanliness was rated excellent compared to the average rating. 

Another important aspect of the store experience is product integrity. This reflects the grocery store's commitment to quality and product freshness. 

We found that only 4% of shoppers encountered visibly damaged products, and only 3% found expired items. These low percentages highlight the stores’ care in maintaining product and safety standards, which boosts customer trust and satisfaction.

The study also showed that 97% of shoppers encountered no safety hazards during their visit. This not only makes customers feel safe but also helps the store minimize risks and liabilities.

Implementing digital checklists and inspection software can help store operators manage routine tasks such as cleaning, safety checks, and product inspections. 

By leveraging those tools, brands can streamline processes, ensure consistency across multiple locations, and facilitate real-time monitoring of routine tasks that impact customer experience.

Want to see all the data collected in this study? Download the American Grocery Experience Insights here.

Elevating Grocery Store Customer Experience

In the crowded grocery market, where numerous options are available, exceptional customer service becomes a key differentiator. 

When grocery stores consistently go above and beyond to meet customers' needs, they stand out. Whether through warm interactions, helpful staff, fresh products, or great services, these factors create a unique experience that sets the store apart.

But this is just one piece of the puzzle. Investing in customer experience often goes hand in hand with operational improvements. Moreover, optimized processes and engaged employees contribute to better experiences, customer loyalty, cost savings, and higher margins.

Intouch helps brands deliver exceptional experiences with mystery shopping, operational audits, surveys, and inspection software as part of a comprehensive customer experience solution. 

Want to know how we can help your brand succeed? Let's chat!

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