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.”