This Largely Brick-and-Mortar Industry Is Resisting Digital Disruption

Despite Amazon’s high-profile acquisition of Whole Foods in 2017, grocery is the bastion of brick-and-mortar shopping proving unusually resistant to a takeover by digital channels. At least, that is the vision of consumers, only 15% of whom say they are excited about the technical “revolution” in grocery, according to a new report on the future of retail by Walker Sands.

Though my fellow erstwhile teenage cashiers who dealt with throngs of shoppers seemingly displeased to be at the grocery store may not believe it, 50% of consumers surveyed for the report said they simply like grocery shopping. Even more importantly, 64% said they want to be able to handle their produce in person before buying it, pointing to a built-in industry preference unlike to be totally overturned.

That does not mean technology cannot make its mark in grocery, though. Only 26% of consumers say they would never buy from an online grocer, a number that isn’t negligible but will likely diminish over time. Also, tech is already making an impact by improving the in-store experience that consumers appreciate, expediting checkout and making delivery possible from brick-and-mortar stores customers already trust.

Finally, the most tech-savvy grocery buyers are looking for brands that deliver on their ethical concerns. Thirty-nine percent of consumers under 35 choose products based on sustainability, and 35% of consumers overall say they care about the reputations of the brands they buy in the grocery store.

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Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He joined Street Fight as a contributing writer in 2015, has compiled the daily newsletter since 2016, and has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018. Follow him on Twitter @joe_zappa, and shoot him an email at jzappa@streetfightmag.com.
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