Insider Insights: What We Learned at Groceryshop 2023

Breaking down one of the most important annual events in the industry.

The 2023 Groceryshop conference recently wrapped at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, bringing together the biggest brands, leading experts, and innovative thinkers in the grocery industry. This annual event has become an essential yearly appointment for those looking to gain fresh perspectives, network with industry peers, and stay at the forefront of the ever-evolving retail landscape. 

While it’s impossible to cover everything that happened during the three-day event, we did our best to summarize a few trends that emerged at this year’s conference.

Retail Media Anyone?

Everywhere you look, there are stories about the surge of retail media networks, with experts predicting that retail media ad revenue will surpass TV within the next five years. As more consumers embrace online shopping and digital channels, retailers are continuously grasping the immense potential of leveraging their own platforms as advertising spaces, resulting in a flooded landscape where there is seemingly a new media network announced every week!

This reality was definitely represented at this year’s Groceryshop, where RMNs were mentioned at every turn. As brands continue to sift through hundreds of choices in order to maximize their limited budgets, everyone is left asking, “How much longer can this continue?” But with no shortage of cash being infused into the space, Groceryshop was a useful reminder that brands need to get smart with their media network strategies.

AI Is Coming

Artificial intelligence has quickly become a mainstay in each of our lives, enhancing our efficiency and personalizing our digital experiences—and the grocery industry is no different. Recent predictions claim that the use of AI in grocery stores could grow by as much as 400% by 2025. Groceryshop showed that retailers are starting to think through the exciting new opportunities that AI can provide. 

Whether it’s smarter inventory management, more efficient checkout processes, or the ability to have AI manage markdowns, this year’s conference explored all of the endless possibilities, as well as some uses that are happening right now. For example, Tropicana and Instacart are both starting to use ChatGPT to create conversational features where shoppers can ask questions and get real-time ideas for meals to cook.

Grocery Has Become Less Profitable

This year’s Groceryshop made it clear that traditional grocery stores are facing a profitability challenge. The reasons are complex, from the highly competitive landscape escalated by retail giants like Walmart and Amazon, changing consumer preferences, and rising operational costs, but regardless, the path to profitability is a pressing concern for retailers everywhere. 

This reality underscores the pressing need for grocers to be strategic and forward-thinking in every decision they make. The era of making decisions based solely on a mixture of historical data and conventional wisdom is behind us. In order to survive, grocers need to leverage advanced analytics and data-driven insights in order to make safe and informed decisions that will keep them ahead of the curve.

The Quest for Omni Excellence

For the past several years, the industry’s primary focus has been the exponential growth of e-commerce opportunities. But Groceryshop proved that a notable shift is underway as retailers are continuously recognizing the critical importance of catering to the diverse preferences of their shoppers, particularly those who still prefer in-store experiences. 

Grocers are returning to more holistic strategies that encompass both the digital and brick-and-mortar realms—realizing that prioritizing one channel over another will typically have negative consequences. So be prepared to hear more about the all-powerful omnichannel experience in the months to come as retailers attempt to facilitate a shopping experience that is as flexible and dynamic as the shoppers themselves.

Make It Practical

It’s safe to say that this year’s Groceryshop marked an important shift in the industry. Many of the conversations in Las Vegas had a much more concentrated focus on practical strategies for boosting in-store sales and connecting with tech-savvy shoppers. While tomorrow’s innovations will always have a place at these types of conferences, these few days signaled a return to some “shopping basics,” emphasizing important initiatives that will work to support the vast majority of shoppers.