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NATIONAL REPORT — Foodservice retailers can best prepare for the future by educating themselves on coming changes to infrastructure and facility requirements, according to Emerson's April 11 webinar, Retail and Foodservice 2025: The Future for Customers, Operators and Facilities.
The global technology and engineering company partnered with Euromonitor International to provide research-based insights on the grocery, convenience, foodservice and mixed retail markets. The companies expect to see operational shifts in facilities, supply chain, e-commerce, human resources and customer experience.
Six key trends were identified during the research process: digital shoppers, focus on convenience, new retail formats, experiential retail, omnichannel and healthy living.
The rise of digital brings certain logistical difficulties, but convenience, increased connectivity, a lowering of costs and ease of use are driving digital shopping. Digital growth will be seen in the form of mobile engagement through devices; mobile ordering and paying; and going beyond mobile, such as with McDonald's in-store digital ordering kiosks.
Starbucks is an example of both the advantages and pitfalls of digital ordering in the new landscape.
"They're the leader in mobile ordering in the foodservice realm," said Euromonitor's Zandi Brehmer. However, the coffee chain's mobile ordering program ran into stumbling blocks when it was not initially set up to fill mobile orders in a timely fashion while properly managing in-store traffic. "If you have the technology in place, it doesn't matter; you have to lead with operations and fulfill what you're promising to customers."
Convenience is more than just a trend for the c-store industry, but customers are seeking it in new forms, and time is now a crucial commodity worth paying for. Urbanization, smaller households, changing gender roles, hectic lifestyles and hyper-connectivity call for a redefinition of convenience, according to Euromonitor.
Instead of having a basic set of stable goods in one convenient spot, consumers are looking for just-in-time delivery, click and collect, and replenishment models of shopping. Amazon is a prominent explorer of these methods through Amazon Go and Amazon Dash buttons.
New retail formats are likely to include grocery stores that behave more like c-stores and smaller square footage in general, as big-box buildings are repurposed.
"We're going to see store sizes continue to shrink down," Brehmer said.
Meanwhile, experiential retail, which includes locations with on-site experts, virtual and augmented reality, and "retail-tainment" currently focuses on the high end, but is likely to impact the value sector as well.
Brehmer noted that a common misconception of omnichannel is that it means only going online, but omnichannel shoppers make more frequent shopping trips and spend more money, so it is important to be where these customers are going. Omnichannel simply means facilitating sales anytime, anywhere in a seamless way.
Drivers of omnichannel include digital devices, new fulfillment models, convenience, always-on lifestyles and millennials, who are also largely responsible for the push toward health and better-for-you.
Brands to watch that exemplify some of these megatrends include Whole Foods 365, Starbucks, Target, Walmart, McDonald's, Amazon and European transplant Lidl, according to Euromonitor.