Self service tills

Customers are placing an increasing importance on service when shopping for groceries, research by insight agency Shoppercentric has found.

Product quality remained the most crucial factor in choosing a grocer, found the annual survey, but this year service firmly established itself as the second-most vital element of the shop.

Half of the 1,108 adults surveyed online said ‘providing great service’ was a key expectation of their grocery retailer, up from 39% in last year’s survey.

Competitive pricing fell from second to third place in the ranking of critical expectations, mentioned by 49% of the sample. This marked a significant fall from the 60% of respondents who mentioned pricing in 2016.

Poor service topped the list of shopper frustrations. Rude or unfriendly staff were cited as a key annoyance by 62% of respondents, up from 54% in the 2016 survey. Long queues were the second-largest annoyance with 55% of respondents versus 47% last year.

There was also greater intolerance for poor availability and display. Promoted products running out too quickly and messy shelves were cited as an annoyance by 49% and 35% of the sample respectively, both up by 13 percentage points on last year. Lack of staff also experienced a large jump in mentions, up by 12 percentage points from 2016 to stand at 45%.

“With low prices having almost become a given, the more added-value elements are now performing a critical role in differentiating between competitors,” said Danielle Pinnington, managing director at Shoppercentric.

“The retail experience, of which service is a core part, is becoming more of a focus for shoppers who want to feel important to the retailer, rather than just being a walking wallet. And they want their needs to be recognised and reflected, through retail experiences that save time and ultimately make life easier.”