How the Pandemic is Pushing Grocery Technology to the Next Level
The pandemic has facilitated major shifts in the world of retail, and the growing scope of grocery technology is a great example of a shift that’s almost certainly here to stay—and for the better.
When you think of big tech, grocery stores might not be the first place that comes to mind. And yet, with everyone shopping for food, technological shifts are constant in this industry. However, the pandemic has changed the behavior, preferences and expectations of these everyday consumers, a shift that is expected to have lasting ramifications on new and upcoming grocery technology.
Today’s shoppers want convenience, as evidenced by the hugely popular self checkout stations. And now more than ever, they also want increased health and safety measures. Grocery store technology is stepping up to the plate and meeting these demands with new innovations that are expected to become regular components in the way we shop.
Grocery Technology Trends to Keep an Eye On
With many forms of grocery-based technology on the rise, retailers have to adjust quickly or risk falling behind. And with the pandemic disrupting most large-scale consumer industries, grocery stores must work quickly to adopt new tech strategies to meet changing demands. This is happening in a few key ways, which, if predictions hold, won’t be going anywhere once the risk of the virus subsides.
Here are the two biggest changes.
- The shift to online grocery ordering
In-person grocery shopping has never been a favorite activity of Americans, with only 15% reporting it as something they actually enjoy. Despite this, prior to the pandemic only 3-4% of grocery sales happened online—a number that’s expected to jump to 10% by 2025.
Legacy grocers aren’t necessarily counting out in-store sales moving forward. Nor should they, since this cultural mainstay is unlikely to change dramatically, even post-pandemic. However, recent changes in grocery-based retail channel management has seen greater investment in tech solutions that enhance the brick-and-mortar experience. Particularly, we’ve seen big improvements on click-and-collect options, like curbside and delivery pickup, through downloadable apps or website shopping interfaces.
- Contactless convenience
You don’t need to look further than Amazon’s recent foray into the grocery field to see that contactless checkout was on its way long before COVID-19 hit. Moving forward, retailers are expecting that contactless tech will be a way for shoppers to feel safer in the store—and to serve their desire to get in and out as fast as possible.
So, are customers willing to opt-in to contactless services as they opt-out of things like free samples? Time will tell, but investments are happening now, with some legacy grocers already at work retrofitting existing stores with contactless, cashier-less technology.
Stay On Top of New Tech
If you’re in the grocery business, then you’ve likely already had a front row seat to the changes in preferences and technology that are overtaking the industry. You don’t need to go all Amazon right at the outset, but some tech solutions are better to invest in sooner rather than later, including:
- More streamlined curbside pick-up and delivery options
- Better virtual experiences, including app integration
- Contactless conveniences like digital receipts and cashier-free checkout lanes
At flexEngage, we’re proud to offer solutions that make this industry shift easier on grocers. Learn about our products and how we’ve been helping retailers—including grocery stores—adapt to the changes to come, as well as the changes that are already here.