CHICAGO -- The recently concluded 2014 FMI Connect event at Chicago’s McCormick Place offered a glimpse of what food retailing could be –- or should be, if current predictions about shopping behaviors bear out.
The Retail Experience of the Future (RETF) exhibit provided expo attendees with a preview of how current research, trend analysis and future-focused leaders suggest the world of food retail is expected to change in the next decade, and a presentation of ideas for enhancing the shopping experience and effectively adapting to the changing landscape.
“The goal of the RETF initiative is to provoke thought, create conversation and inspire optimism among FMI Connect attendees about the possibilities ahead,” said Leslie G. Sarasin, FMI’s president and CEO. “The exhibit serves as an informed observation of where consumers, food, marketing and technology are headed, and what that may mean for the food retail industry in the future.”
Progressive Grocer, a sister publication of Convenience Store News, got a pre-opening tour of the Retail Experience of the Future exhibit and reported on what it observed.
The entry corridor to the RETF exhibit focused on the consumer of the future. Based on research commissioned by FMI, attendees experienced the shopping needs and desires expressed by four distinct types of consumers:
Millennial Mel: Tomorrow’s Shopper. This is a Millennial who lives with her parents and shops for herself. Community-oriented, she seeks convenience and welcomes recommendations. She’s technologically savvy and a social shopper; 38 percent of Millennial Mels will share grocery experiences via social media.
Gourmet Gordon: Focused on the Food. Gordon is a Gen X or Baby Boomer with no children. He shops for himself or a spouse. Product matters most; he seeks fresh, quality ingredients. He shops with a conscience; values organic, non-GMO, sustainable, local and ethical sources, and is eco-friendly. Sixty-eight percent of Gordons would pay more for organic.
Metropolitan Marsha: Craves Convenience. Marsha is a Gen X or older Millennial who shops for her family. She lives in a large, walkable city and embraces technology for quick and simple shopping experience; 55 percent of Marshas said delivery schedule control would be a top reason to shop online.
Traditional Tim: Sticks to Routines. Tim is a Baby Boomer, likely retired, who shops for himself or a spouse. Technology,-resistant, he lives in the suburbs, a mid-sized city or a small town. Thirty-six percent of Tims say competitive pricing would be the main reason for choosing their grocer.
THE STORE OF TOMORROW
The main area of the RETF exhibit featured a series of “what-if” scenarios and vignettes with a structured focus on the following key elements:
- Stores will become emotional destinations.
- The store floor will become a “hyper showroom” to help shoppers become smarter consumers.
- Stores will enable micro-personalization on a macro scale.
- Retail’s role in its shoppers’ wellbeing will increase.
- The store environment will become highly responsive.
- Store associates will become shopper advocates.
- Technology will enable the experience without interrupting it.
“The power of the Retail Experience of the Future exhibit is the opportunity it provides to discover, experience and discuss the changes that are coming to our industry and contemplate how our future success as food retailers will be determined by our ability to adapt and meet the evolving needs and wants of our customers,” said FMI Connect Chairman Randy Edeker, who is also chairman, president and CEO of Hy-Vee Inc., a grocery and convenience store operator.
Even though the idea of online grocery sales is gaining traction, RETF research offered a ray of sunshine to the brick-and-mortar retailer: 83 percent of consumers consider traditional grocers their “go-to” for the foreseeable future.
“They don’t see a future without grocery stores,” said Sabina Saksena of project consultant PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), who led the pre-opening media tour of the RETF exhibit. Consumers see online grocery sales as an “add-on feature” rather than a shift totally away from "real" shopping.
“Even Millennials, they want the experience in the store,” Saksena said.
The Retail Experience of the Future was sponsored by American Express, Coca-Cola Refreshments, The Hershey Co., Hussmann Corp., Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, MyWebGrocer, PwC, SAP, The SupermarketGuru.com and Tesser Inc., the lead architect on the project.
The 2014 FMI Connect event took place June 10-13.