POLL: Shoppers prefer local grocers like Schnucks in new study

Grocery bags
Photo credit KMOX/Michael Calhoun
By NewsRadio 1120 KMOX
ST. LOUIS (KMOX) -- The neighborhood grocery store is back on the minds of American shoppers. More are looking to "strong regional grocers" instead of the national big boxes.

What kind of place do you usually grocery shop, #STL?

— Michael Calhoun (@michaelcalhoun) January 20, 2020

Convenience, value, and quality products are the most important factors to food consumers today, according to the annual "Retailer Preference Index" by data science firm dunnhumby.

How's Schnucks compare?

"I think Schnucks is doing a very good job. They're really getting out in front of a lot of trends. For example, I know they've got robots in a lot of their stores," says Jon Springer, executive editor of Winsight Grocery Business.

In fact, Schnucks ranks 11th in the digital category. That "means having an easy-to-shop online or mobile app-based experience."

Kids can make shopping more difficult, customers are quoted as saying, but delivery can cost too much and yield inconsistent results. The study rewarded retailers with digital features that save time and overcome inconveniences.

Schnucks spent the last year beefing up its mobile app and rewards program. In 2018, it partnered with startup Instacart for delivery. Last year, it added curbside pick-up.

That's good news for getting shoppers through the door.

"Companies will tell you that the shoppers who engage with them digitally in addition to shopping at stores tend to be their best customers," Springer says.

Several local grocery brands, along with Costco, were rated as most recession-proof in part because their customers are less likely to also shop at Walmart.

The authors caution regional grocery companies must avoid being distracted by digital as a "shiny object" and instead focus on the basics -- keeping shelves stocked and prices consistent.