Back in 2017, most consumers complain that supermarkets and grocery stores haven’t quite caught up yet with technology. While there are a few cashier-less convenience stores and pharmacies, these are far and in between. Most use the same old approach—consumers putting items into their physical carts, lining up at the cashier, and paying with either cash or credit card. There were also a few stores accepting no-contact payment transactions such as Apple Pay.
Fast forward to 2021 and the world is never to be the same again. Not only has technology advanced further, but the coronavirus pandemic last year forced major supermarkets and grocery stores to adapt to new ways of shopping. Sure, there were already online grocery stores before the COVID-19 pandemic upended lives, but it wasn’t until people needed to stay in their homes that this industry bloomed.
So what’s the future going to be like? Grocery store owners will need to worry more than about having the right barcode scanners or QR code generators. Expenses for Zebra repair will still be important, but it will come with the costs of maintaining sensors, robots, voice-command systems, and courier services.
Cashier-less grocery stores are the future. There’s no beating around the bush about this. Soon, grocery stores won’t need to hire cashiers unless to address very complicated problems with the system. Some grocery stores are already doing this. The first concept is to operate based on trust. They are trusting that their consumers will pay for the right number of items and put only those items in the bag. But that didn’t work for plenty of supermarkets, so they started rolling out the technology.
Some supermarkets are now installing cameras, sensors, and computer-vision algorithms, so they can track the customers’ purchases and charge them on their credit cards. The consumers won’t need a cashier. They will receive the on their email addresses.
AI is going to change industries, more so in the supermarket arena. For example, some shopping carts now come equipped with sensors, scanners, and artificial intelligence, so they can read the items inside the cart. This way, shoppers won’t need to pass by the cashier anymore. This eliminates the long checkout lines in grocery stores that are usually the reason shoppers try to avoid these lines.
Convenience is the key to any business. Voice ordering is one such convenience. These are devices that you can attach to your refrigerator. Every time you need to add something to a grocery list, you just need to command the device with your voice. You can also scan the barcode of the grocery items you need. The device will create a grocery list to be sent to a supermarket that operates the gadget. They will then deliver the items straight to your doorsteps. It’s a fast and easy way to shop.
As more people become concerned about their health, they turn to healthy and organic produce. The problem is that when fruits and vegetables get to supermarket aisles, they usually traveled too far to be considered fresh. That’s why some stores are investing in the hydroponic method. This is the process of growing vegetables and herbs with nutrient-rich water rather than soil. This way, stores can grow the vegetables and herbs themselves. Consumers can get the freshest produce.
From robots to drones, there are so many options for your groceries to be delivered right now. Supermarkets are being more creative with their use of technology for delivery. But to cater to the older generation who do not know how to order via website, some supermarkets are using the same-old phone call approach. They hired operators to receive the orders and deliver them on the same day through their partner couriers.
But for tech-savvy grocers, stores can use websites and apps to receive their orders. They also use third-party applications to reach as many areas as possible. They offer ultra-fast delivery options, especially for fresh and frozen produce.
Augmented Reality (AR)
Perhaps, one of the most advanced ways to shop today is via augmented reality. Consumers will one day be able to shop via AR. They can shop virtually in the store, compare prices and pick the available brands. Rather than search for the products via the search box online, consumers can feel like they are shopping in-store. While supermarkets still have a long way to go in terms of AR, the plans can’t come to fruition soon enough.
Technology offers convenience no matter the industry. But in these challenging times, technology is also a safe space. It allows consumers to fill their pantries without leaving their homes. Consumers can safely do their shopping without risking their health in stores. For that alone, technology should be commended.