BPR Food for Thought | Grocery and Go, The Future of Grocery Shopping
2019 is welcoming many new technologies which govern how we interact, who we interact with, and how we perform day-to-day tasks. Among these technological shifts, 2019 is set to see a rise in technology-driven retail, specifically within the grocery and foodservice industry. Most recently, Amazon announced London, U.K. as the site for the first Amazon Go International outpost. The announcement left us wondering how far Canadians have come in adopting a technology forward retail concept, and what the future holds for Canadian retailers.
While the self checkout system is not a new concept by any stretch of the imagination, retailers in the U.S. and the U.K., particularly grocery stores, have been taking this concept one step further. As early as 2010, Tesco in the U.K. first launched a “scan-and-go” system allowing customers to use a handheld device or smartphone app to scan items as they shop and skip the checkout line all together. Walmart attempted this concept in the United States and in some Canadian locations in 2013 and again in 2017, but phased it out due to low adoption rates. Instead, Walmart has implemented a new program “Check Out with Me” which places clerks throughout the store to check out customers wherever they are, similar to how the Apple Store operates.
In the most futuristic of leaps, Amazon Go removed the scanning process all together. As customers shop, Amazon tracks items taken from the shelves, and upon departure, charges the items directly to the shopper’s Amazon account. The announcement of the new London, U.K. location proves the success of this concept so far, leading us to believe we’ll be seeing more and more of it over the next few years.
We also expect to see smartphone scanning technologies implemented in grocery retailers for other uses. Experts predict retailers will soon start offering the option to scan grocery shelf items for allergens, making purchasing decisions easier for customers.
While these systems haven’t yet fully taken off in Canada, we’ve seen a big push towards online grocery shopping and delivery, hinting that Canadians are open to alternative buying options. There’s a growing number of retailers offering online grocery shopping for pickup and home deliveries including Walmart, Loblaw’s, NoFrills, and Costco. Canada has also seen the adoption of a number of third party grocery delivery services such as Comfort.To, Inabuggy, Instacart and many more.
The benefit of these approaches comes down to one word: convenience; grocery shopping made simpler with the click of the button. And, for those who favour public transportation over personal transportation, it offers the convenience of having your groceries delivered to your door without doing the heavy lifting.
This is not to say that this mode of shopping is the be all, end all solution. There are still many benefits to shopping in store that technology simply cannot provide. When it comes to the food we consume, we like to have a sense of what we are buying: we want to read labels, examine our produce and touch the product to ensure the highest quality. Like all things in life, there needs to be a balance. Allowing customers to scan and package items while they shop may be a happy medium between the convenience we crave, and the personal interaction we require.
By Brittany St.Louis, Account Coordinator