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Inmar’s Jim Hertel joins Russell Redman on the latest episode of SN Off the Shelf.

Podcast: Higher tech use reshapes grocery shopping, Inmar’s Jim Hertel says

Consumers, food retailers leverage an expanding array of digital tools

With more and more consumers relying on smartphones, the days of grabbing the weekly circular upon entering a supermarket are nearing an end, according to Jim Hertel of Inmar Intelligence.

Forty-one percent of consumers use technology routinely for easier grocery shopping, and 68% use a grocery retailer’s mobile app while shopping, reported Inmar, a Winston-Salem, N.C.-based provider of data-driven technology services for retailers and manufacturers, among others.

Such behavior is a sign of more changes to come, noted Hertel, senior vice president of analytics research & development at Inmar. In March, the company released “From AI to VR: Mapping Shoppers’ Preferences for Emerging Retail Technology,” the latest study in its Tech in Retail series. The online survey polled 1,000 U.S. adults on preferred in-store technologies and how they affect their shopping behavior, including in grocery stores.

Grocery mobile apps are primarily used to find deals and promotions (78%) and locate desired items in the store (71%), Hertel pointed out. Another 69% of shoppers said they would use a self-scan/checkout function.

A vast majority of respondents indicated they would like to see more information in grocery stores from digital displays and shelf tags. Nearly three-quarters said they would be interested in digital displays offering meal planning guidance, noted Hertel. 

Also, a big chunk of consumers polled use social media (44%) while they shop for groceries, led by Facebook (30%) and YouTube (20%), but also including Instagram (17%) and Pinterest (11%), Inmar’s survey found.

In this podcast with Supermarket News, Hertel delves deeper into technology use at grocery stores, including insights from both the shopper and retailer perspectives.

“[Retailers] have been interested in finding ways to become more digital with the [weekly] circular,” he said, noting that a digital circular available in a mobile app gives supermarkets more opportunity to personalize offers to customers.

Hertel also touched on grocery retail tech use amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, which he says “has really pointed out the need for retailers to use technology and the opportunities that have been presented for the ones that have invested in it,” citing customers using grocery retailer mobile apps to see products in stock.


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