Retailers must prepare for next generation of shoppers and cater to a growing consumer demand for personalisation, according to retail software firm Symphony EYC, which forecasts the grocery shopping patterns of tomorrow and how retailers must adapt to them in order to succeed. This article is copyright 2013 The Best Customer Guide.

The company's survey of 1,000 shoppers found that personalised offers, speed, and ease of shopping are the most important factors in retail shopping, with 50% saying that personalised promotions make their life easier, 37% rating speed as the main benefit of shopping online, and 55% of mobile shoppers admitting that they shop using their smart phones to make life less stressful.

These figures highlight just a few of the changes which the shoppers of tomorrow (which Symphony has nicknamed 'omni-shoppers') are demanding. According to Mark Croxton, head of global customer support for Symphony EYC, shoppers are undergoing a fundamental transformation: "Most are still rooted in traditional shopping and online purchasing with home delivery for their grocery goods, with 67% and 63% rating these forms of shopping as highly important, but other forms are growing in popularity. For example, with a focus on convenience, the slow uptake of 'click and collect' in the UK (20%) shows that shoppers aren't yet seeing a clear benefit from it. In France, however, the 'Drive' concept has taken off and 35% rate it as important, compared to 36% for traditional shopping, and it's clear there's an opportunity to attract the time-hungry shopper."

The survey also highlighted the importance of price, with 54% of shoppers being keen to use mobile devices to compare prices in-store. This trend was particularly pronounced among younger shoppers, with 75% of 18-24 year olds rating this as important (compared to only 37% of over-65s).

The British public also voiced a need for interaction and individual recognition from retailers, with three quarters (74%) saying that they would like the ability to request that retailers stock different products. However, shoppers also wanted these to be customised to their own shopping preferences, with 47% wanting to be recognised as a regular shopper.

"Shoppers want different things when they listen and when they speak to retailers, which presents a challenge - and an opportunity. The survey found that, when shoppers talk to retailers, they want to give feedback on stock and products that they don't have (74%)," explained Croxton. "But they also want to hear about how to navigate around the store (31%) and receive offers which are personalised to them (40%) via their mobile phones."

"Only 34% of UK shoppers said that they'd switch retailers if one gave them the ability to influence stock - which is significantly lower than in the US or continental Europe," concluded Croxton. "There's still a clear need to get the basics right, with 62% of shoppers ranking out-of-stock items as a key frustration. As shoppers become increasingly savvy, and with shopping behaviours varying widely between food and non-food items, and non-food shopping growing in importance within supermarkets, the need for intelligent systems to help retailers understand and make the most of these trends has never been greater."