Throughout the pandemic, grocery stores, especially local, independent brands, have experienced a bit of “customer rediscovery.” With the public turning to grocers for more and more of their everyday needs, these businesses are now seen as a one-stop-shop for the communities they serve. With this increased attention and demand for such a full service, grocers need to be aware of emerging technology that can help them better cater to their customers, become more efficient with their labour, understand purchasing habits and pain points, as well as compete with other, adjacent businesses. One area ripe for opportunity is mealtime and grocers better competing with local restaurants.
With the grocery industry primed for innovation, we’ve put together a list of exciting technology advancements all grocers should become familiar with and even consider in coming years.
With customers looking to grocery retailers for more and more of their shopping needs, one area to capitalize on is prepared foods and meals. Grocery stores have the convenience edge over restaurants, as their consumers are already shopping with them. A new report from The Food Industry Association (FMI) suggests “grocers are positioned to be the ultimate mealtime solution in that 39% of consumers view retail foodservice as a substitute for...both a home-cooked meal and a restaurant meal.” Moreover, customers will expect the same technology available to them in other prepared meals settings, such as online ordering options, quick preparation and delivery, even in-store kiosks for made-to-order items like sandwiches or pizza. Providing these options to patrons can allow grocers to capture more of the prepared meals market share.
In addition to prepared foods, using hybrid ordering systems for deli counters and bakery sections could be another winning choice for grocers. By providing customers with pre-order options both online and via associate for deli and bakery items, as well as in-store kiosks where orders can be placed when the shopper enters and picked up as they are leaving, grocery stores can be sure to capture every way their customers want to shop. This also creates immense efficiency for grocers on the production and staffing side of the business, with the ability to forecast orders, autonomous order placement and streamlined preparation and delivery of goods.
With the high uptake of kiosk technology due to the pandemic, there is opportunity for continued implementation, with additional value in in store advertisements and marketing. Providing self-service kiosks throughout your store in different departments, as well as general information areas, can allow you to market directly to your in-store shoppers with current promotions, seasonal menus and catering options, as well pre-ordering in preparation for your peak holidays.
A long overdue grocery shopping component is set to make a huge leap forward with the introduction of smart carts. A smart cart, such as Caper’s AI Cart, provides shoppers with an effortless checkout experience right from their shopping cart. Equipped with AI-enabled cameras, the cart auto detects the items placed inside, scans them and can even weigh loose goods.
Additionally, smart carts can also assist shoppers in locating items, make suggestions based on what’s in the cart and even promote current coupons or deals. Customers are then able to pay directly at the cart, similar to self checkout, and be on their way. By implementing this technology, grocers can give their customers the ultimate checkout convenience by allowing mixed baskets with produce, home goods and their made-to-order sandwich all scanned and paid for together.
Similar to shopping carts, grocery store video surveillance is long overdue for a technological overhaul. By using AI-enabled cameras throughout your store, you can benefit in many ways, such as as:
One consumer truth that seems to be enduring the test of time is “convenience is king.” By implementing scan-and-go (also called scan-and-pay), you can allow customers to use their mobile device to scan their items as they are shopping, pay for their basket on their device and leave the store having had a fully autonomous experience. Many large brands are trialling this technology, and many industry experts say this will become a mainstay for every sized retailer.
Imagine your customers are able to order their holiday catering from your store, come in to pick it up, scan it on their mobile device along with the items they need to replenish their cupboard and off they go! Many retailers may not want to do away with their high touch, customer service touch, but it doesn’t have to replace that, only be another option for those customers who prefer it.
You don’t need to be a technology expert to ensure your grocery business is staying up on current trends and advancements. You just need to partner with the right experts.
The team at FoodStorm has over 15 years of research and development experience in the grocery catering technology industry. We can help your team kickstart your prepared foods and meals offering with our world-class order management software. Schedule your demo to learn how.