Both technology and the human factor matter to grocery shoppers: Study

66% of Canadians have used self-checkouts, but assistance is key when they’re shopping

Grocery shoppers want the human touch while they’re shopping, but not necessarily at the checkout, according to a new study by Dalhousie University that looked at the grocery experience in Canada.

In the survey, nearly 82% of respondents said it was important to be able to ask for assistance if they needed it while grocery shopping. Nearly 55% agreed that self-checkout lanes were a good idea, 55% have used self-checkouts regularly and 11% used them all the time.

“There’s a bit of a paradox that is emerging,” Sylvain Charlebois, a professor of food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University in Halifax told Canadian Grocer. “On the one side, we’re seeing consumers wanting to use technology for convenience sake, particularly while exiting the grocery store. At the same time, that human interaction seems to be quite critical when they’re facing a situation that is either unpredictable or uncertain, for example, if they can’t find a product.”

Also on the technology front, 14% of shoppers said they bought food online occasionally, and 34% agreed “not yet, but I’m thinking about it.” Just over 49% said “not yet and not planning to.” “I find that threshold to be higher than expected and I think there is some traction with online shopping,” says Charlebois.

The survey also found grocery shoppers spend 32 minutes per visit and shopped only 1.29 times a week.

Additionally, consumers acknowledged that community engagement is key. Forty-two percent of respondents agreed it was important to them to visit a food store that is owned and operated by owners heavily engaged in the community. And 55% agreed it was important to visit a food store that is owned by someone they can trust.

Not surprisingly, location is hugely important. More than 80% of respondents said they would pick a grocery store based on where it was located. And 83% would pick a store because it had everything they needed in one place.

The "Grocery Experience National Survey Report" took place over three days in October 2018, and surveyed a controlled sample of 1,053 people online in both English and French. The margin of error is 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.



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