Five tips for measuring grocery guest experience

The competitive grocery space has experienced so many changes in just the last 12 months. Big players like Safeway and Albertson’s have merged. The Whole Foods value proposition has been challenged by consumers who want great food at lower prices. Regional players like Publix have captured market share. And then there’s the big squeeze from mass merchandisers like Walmart and convenience stores like QuickTrip.

In this dynamic and competitive landscape, keeping the focus on your customers and delivering to your brand standards can be challenging. So to help you do that, let me offer five tips for measuring customer experience in the grocery industry. These tips come from our most recent grocery research and some of our customers in this space, like Aldi. 

  • Pay close attention to the checkout experience. Cashier courtesy, bagging, and efficiency of line management really matter to grocery consumers. We’ve found that consumers are forgiving if they feel lines are being managed well, tills are open, and cashiers continue to be courteous even in the face of long lines.
  • Let the speciality departments be the face of your brand. In our panel research and client programmes we’ve validated over and over the importance of service in the speciality departments. Product knowledge and suggestions are very important to delivering a great experience and can help you differentiate.
  • Solve problems. When customers have a problem, your staff need to be empowered to solve those problems, either on the floor, at the service counter, at the till, or in the contact centre. Make sure you’ve trained staff on common issues and how to solve them, and the helpful and professional attitude that must be maintained.
  • Be squeaky clean. You know this, but let me emphasise the impact your store’s appearance has on your customers. A bright shiny floor and squeaky clean bathroom tells customers that you’re handling their food properly—and when they’re buying fresh produce, meat and seafood, that really matters.
  • Make sure your customers receive consistent messaging online and in-store. Whatever you say online needs to be honoured in the store. Voucher redemption, loyalty card points, special product promotions—whatever consumers read online or in the store must match. If they don’t, you’ll confuse or anger your customers and hurt your brand. Consider using customer journey mapping to help you understand the customer’s omnichannel experience. 

I hope you enjoyed these five tips for managing the grocery customer’s experience and your own brand reputation. Good luck!

Jay Little is a Director of Strategic Relations at Market Force Information and has over 10 years’ experience working with some of the biggest brands in the UK. He oversees the team of Key Account Managers who will help your business understand the key drivers & insights that will drive the biggest ROI, either in loyalty or financial return.

Consumer Experiences with Grocery Shopping Online

We all need food, and consumers have many choices for grocery retailers. Although competition for consumer money remains very strong revenue for US grocery retailers and is expected to rise at an average annual rate of 1.7% to $644.0 billion in 2021. As a part of that growth, analysts expect that online grocery sales will grow at an annualised rate of 13.2% to $24.4 billion in 2020 (IBIS WORLD 2015 US Industry Reports, Grocery and Supermarkets). That’s a lot of growth! Unfortunately, for traditional retail grocers, big-name tech companies, such as Amazon, eBay and Google, are beginning to offer and promote same-day delivery services for food. With their established delivery infrastructure, how can traditional retail grocers capture market share in this high growth area? You will need to deliver a great customer experience, and our recent consumer research shows that current experiences disappoint. Consumers try online ordering once, have a dissatisfying experience, and don’t try it again.

Our newly published 2016 retail grocery research was conducted with over 10,000 consumer responses in the US and 6,600 in the UK. One section of this research focussed on the experience with online ordering for both click and collect and home delivery. The results showcase consumer frustrations with the process and big opportunities for brands to capitalise on loyalty by delivering a better online shopping experience. The first brand to get this offer right will have an exceptional advantage over other competitors in the marketplace.

In the US, a very small number of consumers have tried click and collect (4.3%). Of those, 24% said they had a dissatisfying experience, and about half have not tried it more than once. In the UK, a much larger proportion, 24%, said they had tried click and collect, but as with the US, almost one in four had a dissatisfying experience and about half only tried it one time. Home delivery results were more encouraging, with greater trial and reuse, but again, a high number of dissatisfied users. 

Attributes US UK
# of Respondents 10,025 6,648
% using click and collect 4.3% 24%
% dissatisfied with experience 24% 27%
% using only once 51% 42%
% using home delivery 15% 67%
% dissatisfied 21% 21%
% using only once 46% 24%


As grocers attempt to capture growth in online ordering and combat Amazon and Google, they will need to create great customer experiences. This means an easy to use online ordering system, high quality produce representing what customers would select for themselves, and true convenience. Groceries must be available or delivered on time and accommodate customer schedules. Grocery retailers can also leverage their private labels. Many consumers, especially millennials, find private label foods more innovative than branded products. That has led to the popularity of stores that sell premium private label foods such as Trader Joe’s and Aldi. Leveraging the value of strong private label brands will also help grocers win market share as the online grocery business grows.

To learn more about our industry research, click here to schedule a briefing. For more information about how Market Force can help you measure the online grocery experience, check out our Customer Survey solutions. We’re here to help you delight customers and improve loyalty and household spend!

Gail Funderburk serves as vertical practice lead for the grocery industry. She works with national grocery chains as well as regional providers, focussing on how to improve same store sales and capture market share in this fiercely competitive industry.

Tags: grocery

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