It seems the supermarket experience still has a long way to go to catch up with the unique, in-store experience that customers are coming to expect from retailers. But in a recent study from the Retail Feedback Group (RFG), the supermarket with the highest customer perception was Aldi, receiving strong marks for both value and checkout experience.
Shoppers who visited Aldi in the last 60 days were more likely to recommend the store than the average shopper. In addition, 33% of Aldi shoppers said they plan to shop there more next year, versus 21% for supermarkets in general and just 10% for Walmart shoppers.
It's no surprise, as Aldi has made a big effort to be the low-price leader since it entered the U.S. market. Back in May, the chain announced it had prices 21% lower than its competitors, including rival Walmart.
Supermarkets have a long way to go in the experience department. Shoppers gave stores on average a rating of 4.42 out of 5 points on the shopper experience before 3 p.m. But during prime hours, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., the rating went down to 4.36 due to several factors including cleanliness, quality, staff friendliness and value for the money.
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Overall, freshness and cleanliness ranked highest on the survey for factors affecting positive shopping experiences, 4.45 and 4.40, but the interactions with staff ranked lower, with associate availability earning a 4.19 and helpfulness earning a 4.24.
"These survey findings point to a critical need for grocery retailers with a physical presence to step up their game," said Doug Madenberg, RFG principal. "When people shop in a supermarket, the overall experience, assortment and value proposition need to be excellent in order to earn their next visit. There are too many grocery options available online, in hard discount stores and across other formats, for an average or subpar supermarket visit to be acceptable."
Who were the most critical shoppers? Millennials gave the lowest scores to supermarkets on all of the core experience factors.
"The fact that overall trip satisfaction and all of the core experience factors register lowest among millennials should be a call to action for supermarkets. Traditional supermarkets must find ways to make the supermarket more appealing and relevant to younger shoppers or risk becoming endangered as boomers age and purchase less," RFG Principal Brian Numainville said.
In addition, the survey asked questions about the growing food trend of meal kits. About 14% of respondents had tried a meal kit delivery service in the past year, with a higher number of millennials than other demographics. Blue Apron, Home Chef and Hello Fresh were the three most popular services. Consumer cited the top reasons for choosing meal kits were the home delivery, 46%, and saving time, 45%. Those who didn't try meal kits said they were too expensive, 48%, or had no interest, 44%.
And 15% said their supermarket has a meal kit offering, and of those who had tried them, 54% said they were of good value.