Supermarkets are now going all-out for clever ideas to make your shopping experience a lot smoother. The days of writing up a list on a piece of paper and browsing aisles might now be deemed as ‘old fashioned’ when you consider how advanced technology has become. The queues are now a lot shorter with self-checkout systems, while others prefer to do all of their shopping online and they don’t even need to step foot inside of a supermarket as everything is delivered to their doorstep. Here are 4 supermarket technology trends set to change the way you shop forever.
Despite delivery services being available, supermarkets all over the world are now grasping advanced technology to everyone’s benefit. Okay, we’re not quite at the robot stage yet, but some of the ideas that have been implemented already in beta programmes suggest that we have something incredible to look forward to when some services become available to the rest of the world, while some are already in use - these include:
Mobile Wallets & Self-Checkout
Just Walk Out
As technology continues to advance, supermarkets are looking for better ways to give customers new and exciting experiences when they walk through the doors, so here are 4 supermarket technology trends set to change the way you shop forever in a little bit more detail.
Mobile Wallets & Self-Checkout
You’d find both of these methods available in a majority of high-end supermarkets now, making checkouts much simpler and allowing staff members to focus on other areas of the supermarket. Being a cashier can be an exhausting job, mainly because there’s no time for rest as they’re constantly scanning through items and taking payments, leading to wrist pain, back pain and other common injuries they suffer. With self-checkouts systems, it eases the loads on cashiers while making the time you spend in supermarkets a lot shorter.
They’re simple to use, as you only have to scan the barcodes and bag the items you want before paying and leaving the supermarket. Compared to queueing up at tills and waiting for other customers to finish paying and packing their items, you’d be saving valuable time. Finding the exact change in your wallet or purse might frustrate you, but it could also annoy cashiers and other customers waiting in line behind you while you search for the last few pennies.
Major supermarkets now allow you to pay via your mobile phone with services such as Android Pay or Apple Wallet, where all of your card data is stored safely on your phone and you’d be done in one quick and easy scan.
Just Walk Out
You might famously associate Amazon as the largest retailer on the internet, but they’ve never hidden the fact that they plan on moving into the brick-and-mortar scene and they could be taking supermarket technology to the next level by introducing a service called Just Walk Out. While self-checkout is a method to combat long queues, Amazon Go - the name of their supermarket - plans on customers not queueing or even checking out; they simply pick up the items they want and then leave the store.
The checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by the same type of technology used in self-driving cars, computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning. The Just Walk Out technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to shelves and keeps track in a virtual cart. Once you’re done shopping, you simply leave the store and shortly after, your account is charged and you’re sent a receipt through the free, downloadable app.
This method is a great way to potentially combat injuries to staff members, such as cashiers, as they won’t need to be standing at tills all day and repeating the motions than can get them injured. Instead, their focus can lie elsewhere, such as continually stocking shelves as customers shop. Although it’s currently in a beta programme over in America in two stores, the possibility of seeing the technology in action in supermarkets all over the world is exciting.
More and more people want to know where their food comes from, the origins and exactly what goes into the food and drink they’re consuming. While the innovation hasn’t rolled out worldwide, Carlo Ratti created an entirely digital supermarket back in 2015 for the Milan Expo and it highlights just how futuristic our supermarket experiences can become.
Described as similar to augmented reality, customers can interact with food like never before, with data being displayed on digital screens - as you’ll be able to see in the images below - and it’s quite similar to the types of displays you see in most fast-food outlets such as McDonald’s, but not necessarily in supermarkets today.
Using Microsoft technology, customers can hold items towards the sensors and the data appears on digital displays; such as the price, the ingredients and a general, brief history on the product. The initiative has been well-received, and it could be something rolled out one day across the world inside supermarkets which not only makes life easier for customers, but eases the heavy workload on staff too, especially since they’re on their feet all day.
You can now even bring new and exciting gadgets home which make that quick run to the supermarket much more efficient, such as the Hiku device launched by Waitrose. The tiny gizmo ensures customers never forget anything when they enter a supermarket, and the home scanner creates a shopping list for customers right on to their phone. The device scans barcodes and recognises voices, sending items from the Hiku straight to the account to make the shopping experience seamless, so customers aren’t wandering aisles trying to remember what they need.
Tom Fuller, the head of technology innovation at Waitrose described it as: “It’s basically a fridge magnet with a scanner on it. I like to think of it as taking online shopping off the screen and into the kitchen.” You could argue that not only does this make the supermarket experience easier and more fun, but it’s a way for supermarkets to push the message that they have a hi-tech and progressive aspect to their brand. Or if you’re feeling super-lazy, simply use a device like the Amazon Echo to order your online shopping for you.
Using this device can lift the burden on staff members working in a supermarket, as they’re already on their feet for long periods of time and this piece of technology means they won’t need to do the additional pacing around to guide customers to correct aisles, as that process can make life much more difficult for them without the right footwear.
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