Food technology is growing by the day in a number of options, breadth of utility, and customer appreciation. If grocery retailers want to remain competitive, adopting these technologies could be key to establishing and maintaining an edge. Here are seven grocery-related technologies geared to retailers:
1. Grocery shopping apps
These run the gamut in terms of features from store to store. H-E-B is offering a new app that enables shoppers to use digital coupons, find out if their store carries a particular product, manage their grocery lists, and has easy-to-swipe shopping and sharing options.
Retailers can employ Fetch Rewards, which enables customers to scan items they want to purchase and then swipe their smartphone in a specialized Fetch checkout lane to complete their transaction. In addition to saving time and energy at checkout, this maximizes the retailer's checkout capacity and enables more customers to purchase groceries with fewer employees. Founder and CEO Wes Schroll told The Herald that shoppers who use Fetch tend to spend 25% to 30% more in the store.
Manufacturers can benefit from apps like Fetch by delivering coupons as soon as a customer scans an item. Manufacturers can then analyze that consumer data.
In March, Save Mart Supermarkets launched a rewards program handled primarily through a smartphone app that enables customers to create profiles and shopping lists, clip electronic coupons, browse weekly ads, and access an integrated online recipe database to plan meals around their shopping lists, and vice versa. Members of this program can also earn points they can later redeem in-store, which keeps customers coming back.
2. Online shopping with in-store pickup
One recent Nielsen survey of 30,000 shoppers in 60 countries showed that about 12% of consumers already order their groceries online for in-store pickup, and 10% place online orders for curbside pickup. In the report, Patrick Dodd, president of Nielsen’s global retailer vertical, called this "the connected commerce era" in which consumers are taking a more "blended approach, using whatever channel best suits their needs."
3. Home delivery
In addition to in-store pickup, retailers can offer online ordering and home grocery delivery, which encourages repeat business and provides convenience for customers. Kroger is taking advantage of home delivery following its acquisition of online retailer Vitacost.com, through which Kroger now sells 45,000 products online, reports Food Business News.
Instacart is another source of growth for grocery retailers’ home delivery services. Customers can shop from Instacart’s partners, which include Whole Foods Market, Costco, Winn-Dixie, BJ’s Wholesale Club, and Petco stores, through the delivery service and have their groceries turn up at their doorstep within an hour. Whole Foods has already seen success from the Instacart partnership, having generated an average of $1.5 million in weekly sales.
Through customization, online portals can track and analyze customers’ past orders to design repeatable baskets that populate with the staple items that a customer most often puts in a virtual shopping cart. This can drive consistent sales volumes for retailers from each individual customer. Through curated ordering, a retailer can also suggest products that are similar or compatible to those already in a customer’s shopping cart to increase sales and customer satisfaction.
Bi-Lo Holdings, now known as Southeastern Grocers, recently introduced a smartphone app geared toward personalized digital coupons based on shopper’s purchasing behaviors and geographic interests. The app includes a virtual rewards card that can track savings, a scanable shopping list, GPS-enabled location finders, and a weekly circular custom-made for a particular store, among other features.
5. Mobile wallets
Mobile wallets are becoming a more popular way for consumers to pay for purchases. Major credit card networks have jumped on board as well, which should signal a shift in shopping perceptions for grocery retailers to adapt to. However, due to the hardware and software investments involved and uncertainty surrounding whether definite changes are coming with mobile wallets, many retailers are still hesitant to integrate mobile solutions into their stores.
Despite these drawbacks, some major retailers have already adopted mobile wallets in their POS interactions, including Whole Foods Market and Wegmans Food Markets.
6. Data analytics and consumer insights
Analyzing that data can produce insights to help retailers personalize the shopping experience and improve their bottom line. Customer data can influence decisions at many levels of grocery retail, from smart staffing and stocking strategies to rewards programs and weekly sales.
Kroger recently acquired a majority stake in its data analytics partner DunnhumbyUSA, wherein the retailer entered a long-term licensing agreement to continue using DunnhumbyUSA’s technology while spinning off a new Kroger-owned subsidiary for it, called 84.51°. Through this technology Kroger has been able to make informed data-backed decisions.
7. In-store Wi-Fi
According to a recent study, about 28% of participating retailers of all types and sizes saw increased customer loyalty after instituting in-store customer Wi-Fi, which came along with a 2% increase in sales. About 21% of retailers also confirmed that their customers spent more time in the store thanks to in-store Wi-Fi. In-store Wi-Fi enables both customers and employees to find more information about products while in the aisles.
Grocery retail technologies continue to multiply and retailers are still just at the surface level on integrating these functions into the business model.