Industries have reinvented their strategies and business operations over the years to match the needs of their customers and keep up with the pace of the times. In the food retail industry, advances are not new—and neither disruptions—be it on meal and food innovations or how food categories were reimagined and diversified.
However, the recent health crisis has shown us that even though online grocery is an option for customers, people still visit their local grocery stores to check off their grocery lists. This proves that brick-and-mortar stores are here to stay, which opens a myriad of opportunities for retailers to improve and innovate on enhancing the customer’s buying journey in their physical stores.
Food retail stores are not exempt from reinvention. Here’s how grocery stores of the future will look in the years to come:
Artificial Intelligence Will Be a Game Changer
Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be a vital tool in the grocery department in the coming years. Leveraging AI allows grocers to harness customers’ data and use that to improve the overall shopping experience from the moment customers step right inside the store, all the way to checkout. One example is adopting AI as a strategic way for retailers to personalize their messaging to customers for promotions, prices, and targeted offerings. AI can also be used to achieve store inventory efficiency with the deployment of robots to scan grocery aisles and shelves for out-of-stock items and incorrect product tagging. Likewise, AI can be utilized to forecast sales and determine which products are selling and which products are not—all of which helps to properly manage inventory.
Grocery Stores of the Future Will Be Technology-Driven
The exponential acceleration of technology will be evident in the food retail space in the years to come. Grocery stores will be technology-driven with more “customer contact-free” innovation in grocery shopping adopted. Grocery stores will make use of cameras and sensors to implement smart carts that scan purchased items’ price and weight in customers’ baskets at cashier-less checkouts through apps or AI-powered cameras and smart-shelf technologies. And since the future is all about sustainability, especially in the food retail industry, grocers are also eyeing investment in energy-efficient equipment, like refrigeration systems that are both environmentally friendly and good for grocers’ bottom line.
Omnichannel Shopping Will Never Go Out of Style
The future of grocery stores will include meeting customers wherever they are. Whether they prefer online or in-store shopping through their phones or laptops, or whether they like their groceries delivered, picked up, or curbside, the omnichannel shopping experience will be a viable strategy for grocers to implement today and in the coming years. Implementing an omnichannel experience will allow grocers to remain flexible with their in-store strategies, product offerings, and store designs to meet customer expectations and market conditions.
Grocery stores of the future will look nothing like the traditional ones. With all the advancements and innovation happening in the food retail landscape, it is clear that brick-and-mortar stores are well-positioned for the future. It is imperative for retailers of all sizes to improve the shopping journey and value they offer to their loyal customers.