The Grocery Store of Tomorrow: Are You Ready?

By Stevie Sleeter, Content & Social Media Manager

Published: February 11, 2016

In 20 Years…

…You might walk into a store with a digital food ID that tells the store your allergies, food preferences, and dietary needs.

…You might shop on a touch-screen shelf that automatically delivers your order – possibly picking fresh vegetables from an in-store hydroponic farm on the way.

…You might walk into a supermarket that recognizes you as a customer. As you move throughout the store, it will give you personalized promotions based on what you like.

[quote align=”left”]In 20 years, grocery shopping won’t be a chore—it will be effortlessly integrated into your daily life. [/quote]

Twenty years seems a long way away, yet the reality is industry-leading grocery stores and supermarkets are already laying the foundation for the grocery store of tomorrow, as we speak.

The smart-shopper program at the Green Hills Supermarket in Syracuse, N.Y., has sped up checkout by allowing guests to pay by touch with a finger-scan system.

Food Lion is giving guests a way to save money by using the Shazam application to listen to a location’s music, in an innovative mobile coupon experience that also leverages beacons.

Whole Foods has been investing heavily in technology infrastructure to satisfy increasing demand for product information, with the goal of allowing for more accurate, real-time product information that could help guests quickly see if an item is in stock, for example, or if it’s gluten free.

Few guests are aware that every time they walk into a Kroger, an infrared camera notes their arrival.

[quote align=”left”]In other words, the future starts now. Welcome to the new grocery experience.[/quote]

According to an April 2015 Neilson report, “digital is redefining the grocery shopping experience.” But a “build it and they will come” approach will not work in the digital world. The same is true for mobile technology. Never build an app for the sake of building an app to say you’re ‘mobile.’ Tech-savvy guests can easily determine whether an application or device adds value to their lives. Those that make their lives better are used, while those that do not are discarded. Take Trader Joe’s, for example, who recently unpublished their app from the App Store due to an influx of guest comments that resulted in a long ‘Wish List’ of app improvements. This is where the audience focused, guest centric approach comes into play. When developing mobile initiatives, grocers must consider whether they’re creating value and clearly communicating the benefits to customers.

The future of grocery is promising, but it hinges delivering on some important digital experiences.

A complete digital strategy includes interaction at every point along the path to purchase, including finding stores, making lists, checking prices, researching products, sharing content, and purchasing. These touch points occur both in and out of stores, on and off the website, and customers are increasingly using technology to simplify and improve the process.

Today’s shoppers expect more. They expect a better in-store experience, a better mobile experience, a more personalized experience, and ultimately an omni-channel experience. It’s time to give it to them.