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    Shoppers Love Self Checkouts

    Survey ranks North American consumers’ favorite grocery store technologies

    As some retailers back away from self-checkout lanes, a new survey indicates this technology is highly favored by shoppers.
    Empathica Inc., a leading provider of customer experience management solutions to some of the world’s most respected brands, announced the results of its 2011 consumer insights panel survey of more than 16,000 consumers.

    The survey asked consumers which technologies they value most in their grocery experience, and how their expectations are being met by grocery stores across the United States and Canada. Results showed self-checkouts ranked as the No. 1 technology that enhances consumers’ overall shopping experience.

    Half of consumers indicated that an easy-to-use grocery website is also important. But despite its importance, a third of consumers say websites only “sometimes” (28.8 percent) or “never” meet their expectations (4.1 percent).

    Here are the top grocery store technologies that consumers value, from most important to least important:

    1. Self checkouts
    2. Easy-to-use website
    3. Kiosks offering product information, coupons, recipes, etc.
    4. Electronic offers sent via email or mobile device
    5. Wireless access within store

    While self checkout enhances Americans’ overall shopping experience, this contrasts with what Canadian consumers report. When evaluating grocery technologies, 65 percent of U.S. consumers considered self checkouts important, compared to only 54 percent of Canadian consumers. In fact, more than half of Canadians said self checkouts were “not applicable” in their grocery experience, indicating that not all Canadian grocers have this option available in stores.

    “Brands have the opportunity to differentiate themselves from competitors by implementing the technologies consumers look for when choosing a grocery store,” said Brian Jones, Empathica VP of grocery and consumer packaged goods. “As technology continues to evolve, stores need to consider new grocery store enhancements, and how they’ll improve the overall grocery experience for shoppers.”

    The Empathica Consumer Insights Panel survey also revealed some differences between men and women when it comes to grocery store technology. Fifty-one percent of women said they value grocery store’s electronic product offers sent via e-mail or a mobile device versus 46 percent of men. Further, a majority of women (57 percent) said an easy-to-use website ultimately influences their overall customer experience; 51 percent of men consider websites important, according to survey results.

    “The Empathica Insights Panel found that technology will increasingly be a requirement for delivering a differentiated customer experience,” Jones said. “Because of this, grocers need to think about their customer-facing technology strategy, and link that back to their customer segmentations. Otherwise, the implications for the perception of the grocery experience among certain segments of their customer base can be considerable.”

    The study revealed that 80 percent of consumers age 18-24 said grocery technology was an important factor in their grocery shopping experience. But this percentage declined consistently across each age range; 44.5 percent of those over 65 expressed the same sentiments.

    “As the younger generations get older, they will put pressure on grocery stores to deliver on their expectations for service, and in doing so, will reward them with their loyalty,” Jones said.

    An earlier Empathica survey during Wave 3 2010, reported that 78 percent of North Americans ranked supermarkets and grocery stores as the most successful industry in its efforts to leverage technology. Other industries falling lower on the list included fast food and casual dining restaurants, department stores and hotels.

    For the latest Empathica Insights Panel survey findings, visit www.empathica.com/insights.

    Ontario-based Empathica provides customer experience management programs to more than 200 of the world’s leading brands, ranging from multi-unit retailers to banks and restaurants.

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