GroceryShop Spring Meetup Tabletalk: The Future of Grocery Retail Impacts Women

Expert Interviews March 12, 2021
Profile photo of Jennifer Jaspar (she/her)
Jenn Jaspar, Regional Sales Director at Retail Zipline

On the heels of International Women’s Day, GroceryShop hosted a moderated tabletalk for women. I was honored to join this powerful conversation with other female leaders who are dedicated to elevating the ways that grocery brands engage.


As the global pandemic disrupts grocery stores, particularly on the cusp of the new age of grocery, GroceryShop is bringing thought leaders together to explore ideas, support collaboration, and promote peer discussion. The panel of incredible women that I met with is dedicated to supporting female professionals in the grocery vertical, all the way to the frontlines, across many different markets. Here are some of the valuable insights that I took away with me.

The Importance of an Ongoing Conversation

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over half of retail sales associates in the U.S. are female, and more than one-third are people of color. COVID-19 has clearly had a disproportionate impact on women in the workforce (particularly women of color), and this impact will likely last for at least the next five years, worsening the gender-poverty gap worldwide. 

Women are overrepresented in the grocery industry, meaning that the effects of loss of working times, furloughs, layoffs, and daycare facilities changing the way they operate all disproportionately impacts women. 

It isn’t just frontline workers that are affected, it’s also leadership. While there are a lot of women working in the retail space, including the grocery sector, the number of women in the C-suite is actually dwindling. We know that gender diversity improves the strength of brands, so it is crucial to keep this conversation going, now more than ever.

The Impact of Covid-19 on Grocery Stores

It’s been a year since the pandemic forced non-essential and specialty brick-and-mortar retail stores to completely shut down. Meanwhile, grocery stores saw more demand than ever before. Nothing could have prepared the industry for what they faced. 

One thing that all of the women of this week’s tabletalk were certain of is that the broader future of grocery is extremely unclear. Even down to what’s in store for salad bars, prepared foods, pre-made grab-and-go, and food service departments in grocery stores, we have no idea what lies ahead. In addition to new health and safety regulations, grocery stores have had to keep up with the growing demand for online orders, curbside pickup, and BOPIS. 

It’s evident that in order to survive in a post-Covid-19 world, and thus the women working behind-the-scenes, the grocery brands that excel will balance the needs of BOPIS/curbside customers with the changing needs of traditional in-store shoppers. Striking that balance requires consistent communication to ensure teams not only understand new policies, procedures, and technologies but also feel connected to the brand they represent.

Communication is Critical for Grocery Retailers

Even before the pandemic, good store executions happen because of good store communication. Covid-19 has illuminated the need for effective store communications.

Iowa-based regional grocery chain, and Zipline customer, Hy-Vee, understands the importance of effective store communications. “One of the changes that I made instantly was I started talking to all of our store directors, store managers, every single day,” says 10-year CEO Randy Edeker. 

For grocery brands, and the women who fuel them, to thrive, it is crucial to set up effective systems of communication and enable grocery store teams to achieve consistent store execution and implement brand strategies, ultimately empowering workers, and promoting consistent, safe shopping experiences. If grocery stores can consistently change and adapt to consumer preferences and shopper patterns in real-time, the brands that are the most agile will win.

GroceryShop Spring Meetup encouraged grocery retail professionals to meet other champions who are ushering in the new age of grocery. We explored the importance of having ongoing conversations like this with other women in the industry, promoting women who support other women, and seeking mentors. This moderated tabletalk was a precursor to the ShopTalk Meetup for Women in May. I’m looking forward to continuing to explore how women can continue to shape the future of retail.


Are you ready to learn how to improve health and safety compliance and improve your stores’ execution? Zipline was built to solve the unique challenges of communication in retail organizations. Reach out to explore more, today.