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How the Pandemic Has Transformed Food Retail and Services

New study finds shift in attitudes towards transformational technologies for food retail stores, and food services restaurants & operations

Published on December 09, 2020

Today, a leading technology company, Panasonic Corporation of North America, released its industry survey on how the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed Food Services and Food Retail businesses. The new study reveals that one in four Food Services and Food Retailers now view their companies as tech-forward early adopters, up from one in eight before the pandemic.

The research is a follow-up to a previous study conducted by Panasonic shortly before the coronavirus outbreak. In late 2019, Panasonic conducted a food industry pulse survey in association with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services. The survey found that more than half of Food Services and Food Retail executives believed that transformational technologies enabled them to attain a significant competitive advantage. As the new study shows, businesses worldwide now see an urgent need to adapt to changing customer behavior and demands rapidly.

“Undoubtedly, the food services and food retail industry saw many challenges this year. At the same time, many operations from grocery and convenience stores to restaurants were able to transform in real-time to meet consumers’ needs quickly,” said Lauren Sallata, Chief Marketing Officer, Panasonic Corporation of North America. “Agility has become essential to business success, and digital technology adoption the major enabler. The urgency to advance health and safety and consumer convenience is fast-tracking innovation to organizational business models in the industry.”

Key findings:

  • 100% of the survey respondents said COVID-19 had increased the urgency to adopt transformational technologies
  • 85% have experienced what they consider to be a tremendous impact on their business as a result of health and safety concerns
  • 71% cited digital transformation as very important to business agility, more than any other factor
  • 78% indicated that contactless payments are in much greater demand, resulting in the adoption of several solutions, including food lockers for pick-up, facial recognition kiosks, and vehicle/license plate recognition
  • 53% believed their customers are more willing to opt-in to personally-identifiable recognition technologies for the sake of convenience and personal safety

The survey respondents believe many of these behavior shifts propelled by the pandemic will last for at least the next 12 months or more. With consumers motivated by a new set of priorities – such as safety, self-service, and preferred delivery methods – businesses must rethink how they do business and experiment with new ways to meet changing demands.

Associate Writer