The scale, reach, and scope of your neighborhood grocery stores are never going to change. People are always going to spend their disposable income on food. In fact, on average, consumers make supermarket trips as often as twice a week.
On the whole, supermarkets follow the same brick-and-mortar model. That’s because it’s tough to buy food online. Big companies like Safeway and Amazon have ventured into this territory, but Internet-based grocery shopping hasn’t caught on. People want to buy their milk in a physical store, and that trend probably won’t change.
Consumers Demand Efficiency
It’s tough to deny though, that tech is transforming consumer behavior in the direction of efficiency.
“We are seeing the emergence of intelligent solutions to help us live easier, more convenient and efficient lives – particularly in our homes and how we travel,” wrote Peter Lacy and Justin Keeble in an article for The Guardian.
People want to live better, healthier lives – and they rely on technology as the key solution provider. Businesses need to catch up and drive change in consumer behavior at scale.
“It is widely appreciated that by 2050, if current population and consumption trends continue, increased demand in resources will require 2.5 planets to support the population with what it will need,” Lacy and Keeble wrote. “To create more sustainable consumption, businesses must reshape demand by making it more personal and relevant to consumers and leveraging the power of technology to drive engagement and transparency.”
Around the world, supermarkets and technology providers are capitalizing on this idea.
Example 1: IBM Simplifies Shelf-Browsing
Today’s consumers are information driven. They’re constantly researching products and doing their due diligence in reading reviews. Unfortunately, that process is quite time consuming. Regardless, people want to know – ‘what’s the best product for me?’
That’s the precise question that technology giant IBM is hoping to help consumers answer.
“IBM has unveiled an augmented reality mobile app that lets you pan store shelves with your smartphones to receive personalized product tips, recommendations, and coupons,” said VentureBeat writer Dean Takahashi. “As you enter a store, you can download the app on a smartphone or tablet, register for the service, and create a profile of features that matter to you, such as ingredients you’re allergic to or your favorite foods.”
As you explore the aisles, the app will help you find products you’ll love. It simplifies what consumers already love to do – browse.
Example 2: Tesco Maps Your Shopping List
In 2011, U.K. supermarket giant Tesco developed an Android app to help customers find items at the store. It all starts with what you need on your shopping list.
“When a customer enters a Tesco store, the app will create a store map with all of the items on the shopping list laid out on it,” Emma Barnett wrote for The Telegraph. “After pressing the start button, the app will then find the shortest distance between the products an the shopper, and create a route for the trolley to follow. Other items can be added to the list at any time and located within the shop.”
As an added level of convenience, the app allows users to share shopping lists with one another. Can’t make that last-minute grocery store run? Send the list to your spouse who will be passing by the store on his or her way home.
Example 3: Yihaodian Creates Augmented Reality Storefronts
Chinese grocery giant Yihaodian is deploying an innovative supermarket concept – augmented reality markets where users can shop with phones.
What the company plans to do is create virtual stores in every blank space, which includes subways, walls, and public squares.
While people who aren’t using smartphones won’t see anything out of the ordinary, Yihaodian is changing how smartphone users see the world around them. According to Betsy Isaacson of The Huffington Post, “those who arrive equipped with a mobile device will be able to see a fully stocked supermarket, complete with virtual ‘food’ users can scan with a smartphone to put in a ‘virtual shopping basket’ and have delivered at the click of a button.”
With this type of storefront model, fresh and healthy food instantly becomes more available to consumers. And the expansion potential? Infinite.
Does technology have the potential to transform the supermarket experience? What key trends are consumers most likely to adopt?