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The Up-and-Coming Technology Revolutionizing the Grocery Store Experience

Like most industries today, the grocery industry is seeing an influx of technology flooding the market. Grocery technology has progressed from rudimentary experiments with automated checkout to fully cashier-less automated shopping experiences. Emerging technologies have proven to streamline operations and make shopping more convenient. As technological innovations advance, so do solutions for streamlining and reforming the brick-and-mortar grocery shopping trip.

The following are a few technology solutions that are transforming the traditional grocery store experience:

Digital Shelves

Kroger made headlines with its new digital EDGE Shelves, a retail technology solution that uses digital displays instead of paper tags to indicate prices, promotions and nutritional facts. The technology also works to help store associates find items in the store more quickly and to provide digital cues to help fulfill online or curbside orders.

A digital shelf system also allows for partnering opportunities with various brands in order to show advertisements and scannable coupons on each display. The dynamic nature of these displays can be more engaging to customers, who are more likely to notice and participate with coupons and sales.

Scan-Free Shopping

Amazon, at the forefront of the online shopping revolution, is experimenting with bringing their industry-leading technology to brick-and-mortar shopping. Expanding upon the significantly popular self-checkout phenomenon, Amazon has introduced the Amazon Go store format to its customers in Seattle, and has since expanded to introduce stores in Chicago and San Francisco, with 3,000 planned locations opening in upcoming years. The store concept uses computer vision, sensors and automatic learning to detect when products are removed from shelves and payment is processed via the Amazon app when customers leave the store with the items they want to buy.

Industry leaders have embraced this concept as the future of retail as more consumers prioritize automation as a key to convenience. San Francisco’s Standard Market has adopted the idea by introducing technology by Standard Cognition that allows customers to shop and pay by matching items to each shopper and employing a similar shelf-stocking detection system as Amazon’s.

The combination of flexible software updates, scalable installation process and seamless experience for customers all points to scan-free shopping as the way of the future.

Robot Deliveries

Online delivery services like Instacart, AmazonFresh and Walmart’s at-home delivery are dominating the grocery industry. But how can brick-and-mortar stores compete with the convenience of ordering groceries straight to your door? Some are employing some very futuristic help to get the job done. U.K. supermarket Ocado is working on a robotic picking and packing system that can recognize products, grab them from shelves and then pack them carefully into a box. According to industry publication Retail Customer Experience, this system is said to do almost three hours of work in five minutes.

Midwestern grocer Schnuck Markets has also introduced a robot pilot program that detects out-of-stock items, pricing errors and even safety hazards, in order to free up in-store associates to attend to more important and customer-facing responsibilities. While the Ocado and Schnuck Markets systems are still being tested, it could prove a solution to the overwhelming demand for online delivery order fulfillment.

Augmented Reality

While it may seem like a futuristic dream, augmented reality is gaining traction and slowly being introduced for grocery applications. Barcode scanning software and technology company Scandit has introduced AR technology that integrates with grocery retailer’s individual apps to allow customers to shop around their specific dietary needs. Customers can open the app while they’re shopping, choose an ingredient or allergen and hover the device over the products on the shelf. The phone will then scan each barcode instantly and display which products are safe for the customer to purchase.

Whether streamlining experiences for customers or making store management easier for associates, the emerging technology in the grocery industry is primed to satisfy today’s major customer demand for convenience and immediacy. To compete with the likes of Amazon and Walmart, grocery retailers will need to adapt to consumer’s changing expectations, and adding high-tech solutions is the direction in which the industry is headed.

"In a multi-store operation it is important to have control from a central point. STCR provides the systems and technical expertise to do just that."