Study: In-store grocery shopping trumps online; self-checkout gains steam

Self Checkout
Shoppers are attracted to the speed, shorter lines and privacy that self-checkout offers.

Forty-three percent of consumers expressed a preference for self-checkout over traditional checkout, according to the first Digital Commerce Index from NCR Voyix, which explores how dining, grocery and fuel convenience purchase behaviors are changing.

The survey found that more than half (53%) of younger shoppers (ages 18 to 44) prefer self-checkout. Of those consumers who prefer self-checkout, speed, shorter lines and privacy are most important.

Shoppers aged 45 to 60-plus prefer traditional checkout. But the top reason behind their choice is that they often have many products at check out and may find a regular lane less time-consuming, according to the study.

“Self-checkout is evolving to offer a quicker and more user-friendly experience,” said David Wilkinson, CEO of NCR Voyix. “The reality is shoppers want more control over their checkout experience and self-checkout delivers that flexibility. For retailers, self-checkout enhances operational efficiency in a time when many are struggling to retain staff and are combatting unprecedented levels of shrink.”

Other grocery findings are below.

•While online grocery shopping may be more convenient for those who don’t have time to shop in person, two-thirds of survey respondents prefer to shop for groceries in-store. Challenges like out-of-stock items (62%), incorrect deliveries (52%) or unfulfilled orders (38%) contribute to poor online ordering experiences. 

•Nearly two in five survey respondents (37%) said they abandoned an online order due to high service fees. Also, some consumers also prefer to hand-select specific items like produce (59%) or meat (51%) themselves.

•With inflation driving higher grocery prices, 74% of consumers surveyed have changed how they shop for groceries. Most are looking for less expensive items (56%), buying less overall (49%) or making a more deliberate decision to shop where they find the best deals (46%).

•Consumers increasingly rely on technology to navigate smarter ways to shop. When asked how technology has changed their shopping experiences, consumers cited the ability to compare prices more frequently, research products before purchasing more frequently and use more digital payment options.

 Dining Trends

The survey found that the surge in tipping prompts in restaurants may be tipping consumers the wrong way. Thirty-six percent of consumers reported that they don’t like tipping prompts and therefore don’t tip at all.

In other restaurant findings:

•Forty-eight percent of consumers said they dine out less now because of higher prices. 

•More than half of consumers (58%) have purchased a meal at a gas station one or more times this year.

•Although some consumers may be slowing down on traditional dining out, they still want to keep up with their favorite restaurants and access any deals they can. Signing up for a loyalty rewards program, downloading a restaurant’s app and signing up for email updates are among the top three actions consumers have taken to receive updates on their favorite restaurants.

•Half of consumers prefer to use a restaurant’s app or website to place their order, while 23% prefer to call the restaurant directly. Consumers cite their top reasons for going directly to the restaurant’s app or website for order and delivery as convenience, the ability to easily customize orders and lower or no service fees.

“The results are in, and it’s clear consumers want ease, speed and innovative experiences whether they are at the grocery checkout, gas pump or favorite restaurant,” said Wilkinson. “As retailers and restaurants consider their technology investments for 2024, these consumer insights can help prioritize and deliver what consumers want.”

.For the 2024 NCR Voyix 2024 Digital Commerce Index, NCR Voyix commissioned a blind survey of American consumers in November 2023 to understand how dining, grocery and fuel convenience purchase behaviors are changing. Respondents to the online survey included a total of 1,133 American consumers. 

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