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What do you like about your favorite grocery store? What do you hate? And what do you wish your store would do better?

Those are among the questions that more than a thousand shoppers were asked in a new survey. And store owners are being urged to listen to the results – and act on them.

In its report “Front of the Line: How Grocers Can Get Ahead for the Future,” PricewaterhouseCoopers asked shoppers, “What do you want in your future grocer?”

Nearly 60% of respondents cited personalized coupons as being the best way to simplify their future grocery shopping experience. These shoppers want coupons for products they buy, or those they might be interested in, delivered straight to their mobile device or loyalty card.

And shoppers want those loyalty cards to do more than just deliver advertised discounts at the checkout. Most people surveyed “don’t want your loyalty programs to go away,” the report advises retailers. “In fact, they want them to evolve to offer more flexible and tangible benefits.”

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In other words, actually reward our loyalty.

Most shoppers surveyed said they want loyalty programs to do more than just deliver one-size-fits-all discounts. We’d like to earn points, based on how frequently we shop at a store. And it would be nice if loyalty programs would reward us for buying healthier foods (“earning points for buying apples over apple pie, for example,” the report reads.) In all, 83% of survey respondents said they want loyalty programs to offer flexibility in how they earn and spend their points, by using them for discounts on groceries, on gas, or just converting them into cash.

So what would we like not to see in our future grocery stores? Long lines, crowded aisles and parking lots, and unhelpful staff – all of which were named as grocery shoppers’ top complaints.

There are no lines, aisles, parking lots or surly staff at online grocery stores. So could that be a potential solution? Not for most of us. Only 1% of shoppers surveyed said online shopping is their primary way of getting groceries. And just 5% ranked online grocery shopping as one of their top three shopping options for the future. Echoing other surveys’ findings, most said they avoided online grocery shopping, because they’d actually like to see the products they’re purchasing.

“We know shoppers want a better grocery experience, but many of them aren’t getting that now,” the report concludes. “Shoppers simply want their future shopping trips to be more convenient and customer-service oriented.”

And some more coupons surely wouldn’t hurt.

photo by: lucianvenutian
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