By Doug Baker, Vice President, Industry Relations - Private Brands, Technology for Food Marketing Institute

Remember the good old days when shoppers would bump into you with their carts while you were restocking because they were walking around searching for what they wanted?

Now, of course, shoppers are just as likely to bump into you because their noses are buried in their smartphones, looking for more information about products on your store’s shelves that they want.

Here’s some news: When shoppers are at home, they’re often staring at their computer screens to get information about the products they want BEFORE they hit your food retail aisles.

Retail Dive tells us 67 percent of shoppers research products online before they head for your store. Another study points out that half of all Millennials use their phones in-store to research products they’re looking for.

Why are they doing this? Why is accurate product data so important to consumers today, and why is it important to you, the food retailer?

First, accurate information about products matters to consumers. Digital tools make it easy for shoppers to obtain information, and because they’ve come to expect product details from online providers, they now expect it from food retailers, too, when they’re in your store or before they shop.

Thanks to SmartLabel®-enabled technology, which more and more consumers are aware of, shoppers can combine in-store and online resources almost simultaneously and seamlessly.

Second, this burgeoning access to information feeds upon itself. Consumers have specific diets they follow - be it gluten-free, fat-free, dairy-free, etc., and they want information that helps them meet their own guidelines. Millennials, to a greater extent than older generations, want to know about the ethics and sustainability standards of the products they buy and the companies they do business with.

We hope you dive into the variety of transparency resources we have for you, including new research, The Transparency Imperative: Product Labeling from the Consumer Perspective.

If you know a small brand that would like to fine tune and or organize their data better, FMI Emerge hosted a recent free webinar, Learning to Use Your Label and Ingredients for Sales Growth.