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Empathica Inc., a provider of Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions, has announced the results of its 2011 Consumer Insights Panel survey of more than 16,000 consumers.

The survey asked consumers which technologies they value most in their grocery experience, and how their expectations are being met by grocery stores across Canada and the U.S. Results showed self-checkouts ranked as the No. 1 technology that enhances consumers' overall shopping experience. Half of consumers indicated that an easy-to-use grocery website is also important. Despite its importance, a third of consumers say websites only sometimes meet their expectations (28.8 percent) or never meet their expectations (4.1 percent).

Top grocery store technologies that consumers value, from most important to least important

  1. Self-checkouts
  2. Easy-to-use website
  3. Kiosks offering product information, coupons, recipes, etc.
  4. Electronic offers sent via email or mobile device
  5. Wireless access within store

How demographics influence technology preferences

While self-checkout enhances Americans' overall shopping experience, this contrasts with what Canadian consumers report. When evaluating grocery technologies, 65 percent of U.S. consumers considered self-checkouts important, compared to only 54 percent of Canadian consumers. In fact, more than half of Canadians said self-checkouts were not applicable in their grocery experience, indicating that not all Canadian grocers have this option available in stores.

"Brands have the opportunity to differentiate themselves from competitors by implementing the technologies consumers look for when choosing a grocery store," said Brian Jones, Empathica V.P. of Grocery and Consumer Packaged Goods. "As technology continues to evolve, stores need to consider new grocery store enhancements, and how they'll improve the overall grocery experience for shoppers."

The Empathica Consumer Insights Panel survey also revealed some differences between men and women when it comes to grocery store technology. Fifty-one percent of women said they value grocery store's electronic product offers sent via email or a mobile device versus 46 percent of men.

In addition to appreciating email and mobile offers, the majority of women (57 percent) said an easy-to-use website ultimately influences their overall customer experience. Fifty-one percent of men consider websites important, according to survey results.

"The Empathica Insights Panel found that technology will increasingly be a requirement for delivering a differentiated customer experience," Jones said. "Because of this, grocers need to think about their customer-facing technology strategy, and link that back to their customer segmentations. Otherwise, the implications for the perception of the grocery experience among certain segments of their customer base can be considerable."

The Insights Panel study revealed that 80 percent of consumers between the ages 18-24 said grocery technology was an important factor in their grocery shopping experience. However, this percentage declined consistently across each age range; only 44.5 percent of those over 65 expressed the same sentiments.

"As the younger generations get older they will put pressure on grocery stores to deliver on their expectations for service, and in doing so, will reward them with their loyalty," Jones said.

An earlier Empathica survey during Wave 3 2010, reported that 78 percent of North Americans ranked supermarkets and grocery stores as the most successful industry in its efforts to leverage technology. Other industries falling lower on the list included fast food and casual dining restaurants, department stores and hotels.

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User Comments – Give us your opinion!
  • Richa Gupta
    Quite in line with poll results at the end of the MSNBC article on self-checkout solutions:

  • Jan Yladi
    Self checkouts are NOT valued amongst consumers. Why should we do the work instead of the employees? Grocery stores like to install self checkouts so they don't have to hire people. We aren't that dumb, come on.
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