The Grocery Store: Going “Tech” Fresh to Survive

With high quality internet access rising, cell phones and tablets more ubiquitous than ever and heightened multitasking among “millenials,” grocery shopping is not what it used to be. Only 41% of millenials buy food at traditional grocery store, and focus on convenience over store loyalty (via “Trouble in Aisle 5” report, June 2012, from Jefferies & Co/AlixPartners Once considered to be near the forefront of retail innovation to appease customers (and keep them coming back for more), grocery stores are seeking various ways to stay relevant across shopper generations. Technology is a key asset, with stores considering interactive and 3D signage that tailors to shoppers, dynamic shelf labels and displays, “smart” carts that help pick items, instant near field communication purchases and more. In this session, learn about what’s new and what’s next to help make going to the grocery store exciting again, and place it ahead of the innovation curve, rather than behind it.

The Grocery Store Going Tech Fresh

Starting a discussion: How can technology keep grocery stores relevant?

Reports say “New millennials are not going to traditional supermarket (41% are not).” Baby boomers are also changing their shopping habits to be more frugal.


  • Grocery store, one of the last places to see technology integration
  • Dietary needs / allergies can be given to customers while they are shopping
  • Technology can benefit the brand
  • Margins are thin at the grocery store, who will pay for it?
  • Scattered databases
  • Innovation is stifled by economies

The big question: Who benefits? Who pays?

The situation is comparable to digital cinema. Theaters didn’t want to pay for digital projectors. An innovative business model - cost saved by not having to print films - made it possible.

The Avatar effect. To show the movie Avatar, theaters needed to invest in digital projectors or lose ticket sales to other theaters that did have digital projectors and could show the movie.

Why hasn’t online grocery shopping taken off?

  • Social experience
  • Ability to select meat, fruit, vegetables
  • More organic choice is an example of online grocery shopping. It offers trust and convenience. Locally grown produce, delivered.

Social Experience

Display technologies allow the telling the story of the food that you are buying. Origins, uses of foods, giving consumers more info about the foods that they are buying. In a strictly online shopping environment, consumers may miss seeing the other things that are available, alternatives.

Adding more technology to the grocery store has an impact beyond just the cost of the technology itself.

Technology also impacts hiring, support, infrastructure within the grocery store.

The lack of collaboration between distributors, product manufactures, stores stifles change.

Consumers bring the technology. How can consumers protect themselves with technology.

  • Optical imaging / inspecting allows to check calories, food safety.
  • Other retail environments can lead and add value to the consumer. Scan for reviews, price history.

The Check-out experience

  • Sucks!
  • Cart should be able to check you out
  • Self check-out is usually less convenient. Any technology that requires a person to stand and watch is not innovative.

Is the technology enhancing the shopping experience?

To utilize technology on a large scale, you have to trust that it is going to work. Grocery stores are slower to implement change so there is a risk of new technology failing but being stuck with it.

Make peoples lives better, easier, more valuable. Help people make good choices.

It’s either about the top line or the bottom line.

  • Top Line - Shopping Experience
  • Bottom Line - Saving money

Markets based on scarcity and control are in trouble.


Notes from another attendee

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  • G. Brad Hopkins
  • About Me: I bought my first computer - an Apple Performa 6320 - when I was in college and have been building websites ever since. These days I spend most of my time writing code and helping to bring interesting projects to life.
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