Did you know that 30% of Millennials order groceries for home delivery from their mobile device?  And another 17% order online and pick up inside the store? And in 2015, 78% of smartphone owners have downloaded a shopping app for groceries.*

At this year’s Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Energy & Store Development Conference, the main sessions focused on disruptions and the future of the brick and mortar grocery store.  As more and more people begin ordering online for their groceries, the industry is left to identify how they innovate and stay ahead of the trends of consumers.**

“People don’t have to go to physical stores anymore.  The retailers need to have stores that shoppers want to come to,” said Benchmark Group team member Will Kraner, who attended this year’s FMI conference in New Orleans.  “Most of the general sessions spoke on the disruption the retail market is facing due to eCommerce becoming so popular.  Online shopping is the typical way millennials prefer to shop.”

So what are millennials looking for in the retail industry?  An experience.  Consumers want a specialized, sustainable shopping experience. Think Starbucks.  Think the Apple store.  These retailers have stayed ahead of the trend by creating a place where consumers want to go, all in an effort to get them off of their phone and in the stores.

Besides learning about the trends of the grocery industry, our team also attended breakout sessions that focused more on technical aspects. Kraner went to refrigeration-focused sessions. “It was interesting to hear more discussion on electric defrost versus hot gas defrost,” he noted.  “I also learned more about how to put total cost of ownership to two different designs, one with a case controller using electronic expansion valves versus TXVs.”

In the final main session of the conference, the attendees got to hear from special speaker General Russel Honore, the man in charge of the relief efforts in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He spoke on “Resilient Leadership: Prepare Today to Prevail Tomorrow.”

“One of the takeaways I got from this was ‘Do routine things well.’ In an industry that utilizes prototypical design, it is important to remember,” explained Kraner.


*See the slideshow here for original information from the Data ‘N Charts website for quoted statistics and further information about the trends in grocery shopping.

**See the FMI website for more information on this year’s conference.