Grocery shopping has always been a necessity, but the way it’s been done hasn’t changed in decades. The stores may have gotten bigger and flashier, but the core concepts were still the same: customers came into the store, picked their items, waited in line and took them home. But a push for personalization and customer experience, paired with new technology, has led to major changes in the grocery space that are only just beginning. Within the next five years, we’ll see major improvements to the convenience and overall experience of grocery shopping.
Here are five ways grocery shopping will be different in five years:
- Grocery shopping is getting an upgrade after staying the same for decades.
- Stores are experimenting with cashierless checkout, which allows customers to scan items on their own and go.
- Grocery stores will get smaller and offer more experiences.
- Technology will allow for real-time data, personalization and automation.
- Customers will have options of how to pick up items or have them delivered, even the choice to use robotic delivery.
What started with the Amazon Go store will soon become commonplace among all grocery stores. Customers will have the freedom to shop the store for the items they want and then simply walk out without having to wait in line. A number of stores, including Kroger, Walmart and H-E-B, have already rolled out cashierless retail in some fashion. Some stores will take it a step further by picking out the items or having them delivered after the fact so that customers aren’t weighed down with bags. Cashierless retail also frees up human employees to focus on assisting customers, keeping the store clean and providing a personalized customer experience.
Similar to what is happening with other brick-and-mortar retailers, grocery stores will focus more on experiences and less on products. Instead of solely being a place to purchase food, grocery stores will compete more on overall experience and aim to be a place where people can connect. Stores will feature more services and experiences, such as cooking classes and product demonstrations. In California, Raley’s is already leading the trend, with its new flagship store that features a loft dining area, wine tasting room, sushi and bakery departments and large outdoor seating area. Customers will come to experience all the store has to offer and also get their groceries instead of solely coming for the products. Grocery stores will also be smaller and focus on the quality of products, not the quantity, with many brands focusing on local products for niche markets.
Real-Time Data And Personalization
Customers are already used to receiving personalized offers and recommendations from many other companies, and it will soon expand to grocery. By integrating smart devices, customers will be able to create a cohesive shopping list that can be automatically shared with the grocery store for real-time personalization as soon as they arrive. When a customer walks into the store, they’ll receive instant updates on promotions of items on their list and receive targeted offers for things relating to their demographics, location or even the weather. Personal pricing with digital shelves will take personalization to the next level and allow the stores to change prices in real time and also display promotions and dietary information.
AI and Automation
The future of grocery shopping will be filled with as much AI and automation as possible. In stores, AI will take the form of robots wandering the store to assist customers and track inventory. On the backend, robots will be used to fulfill orders and make deliveries. As much of the process as possible will be automated, including order fulfillment and stocking the shelves. AI and automation will create a more seamless experience throughout the supply chain, which will allow customers to get exactly what they want right when they want it without having to waste time on unnecessary steps or items.
It used to be that customers had no other choice than to visit the grocery store and shop for items themselves, but that is no longer the case. Nearly every major grocery chain has already rolled out pick-up and delivery options, which will continue to be fine-tuned in coming years. Shoppers will have the option to order their groceries online, through a mobile app or with voice commands and then get their orders in the way most convenient for them, such as picking it up in the store, having it delivered in person or having the items dropped at the doorstep. With robotic delivery, orders could be fulfilled within minutes or hours instead of days. Kroger is already testing robotic delivery with its bot Nuro, which can deliver up to 12 bags of groceries straight to customers’ doors for a small fee.
The future is already upon us, as grocery stores race to innovate and update the shopping experience. In the next five years, we’ll see major changes to make grocery shopping a more enjoyable and convenient experience, but most importantly, a customer-centric experience.
This article was originally published on Forbes.com.
Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist and the author of two books including her new book The Customer Of The Future. Learn more by signing up for her weekly newsletter here.