Technology is going to be a huge component of the grocery landscape in the years to come, but grocers still have their work cut out for them. Dana Krug, vice president and general manager of food and beverage at Phononic, shared more about the challenges grocers face in an interview.
“According to consumer research we conducted last year, 50 percent of consumers feel that grocery stores have not yet figured out how to use technology like other retailers have. With Amazon throwing another gauntlet down, we are likely to see other players in the space doubling down on their food technology investments,” Krug says.
Phononic’s research has found that 89 percent of shoppers want to shop in a grocery store that understands how to make buying groceries an easier and more efficient experience.
A key way this can be achieved is through the layout of the store: 92 percent of customers say it is important that the layout of the store makes it easy to find things, and food executives agreed, with 87 percent saying it has proved successful to create an optimised store layout. For seven in 10 executives polled by Phononic, this meant changing their layouts to accommodate micro-visits.
“Today, we are seeing consumers moving away from long shopping trips to these more frequent and shorter trips. As a result, fewer customers are traversing the full store, choosing instead to simply pick-up their goods at the front or make a bee-line to specific items. What’s more, when consumers do decide on a longer shop, they are mostly spending their time along the perimeter of the store where the prepared foods, produce and deli offerings reside,” Krug shares.
Krug believes that by distributing refrigeration and freezing technologies throughout the store, instead of relegating them to the very front or very back, grocers can win on experience by placing natural pairings together more easily.
“Chilled salsa and hot queso right next to the corn chips in the snack aisle, chilled wine and cheese in the cracker aisle, mozzarella, tomato and basil for paninis, etc.
“There are so many examples. By removing the limitations of traditional refrigeration and freezing units, grocers can truly conform the layout of their stores to the way customers want to shop,” Krug says.
In addition, stores will need a continued investment in technology that speeds up consumer shopping trips by reducing wait times, such as cashier-less checkout, and innovations that may eliminate checkout altogether, such as sensor technology that integrates with brands’ mobile apps and mobile provider payment functions, like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.
These efforts will be supported and aided by advancements in indoor positioning systems (IPS) that will allow grocers to study how people move throughout their aisles and deliver personalised offers to improve the experience right to their mobile phones. In the years to come, shoppers can expect to see their in-store experience incorporating even more digital functionalities, like mobile barcode scanning of products that calls up reviews, price comparisons and customised pairing recommendations based on dietary preferences and purchase patterns.
Retailers are also looking to automated technologies to improve processes on the business end and to augment the efforts of employees.
For example, robotic janitors in Walmart or Martys in Giant Food Stores are improving the shopping experience by freeing up employees’ time, so they can interact more with customers. Among other innovations being explored are self driving grocery delivery services.
“While still young, we’re seeing these growing quickly, with Kroger recently announcing plans to expand its autonomous grocery service partnership to a second market. Notably, when we asked consumers in our most recent survey about the future of the grocery experience, they predicted that the traditional grocery store will still be a go-to destination, but nearly 20 percent said they will shop more online and pick the items up. A smaller fraction, 17 percent, intends to embrace delivery from their traditional grocers. This shows that while still relatively immature, customers see a lot of potential in the delivery experience,” Krug says. — Forbes.