When it comes to today’s shoppers, convenience is King. With the rise of digital technology, the world is moving faster than ever before, placing more and more demands on us. Consumers now expect retailers to go the extra mile and offer new techniques and services for making shopping more seamless and life a little bit easier.
These shopper ‘lifehacks’ are now key to consumer loyalty and technology is playing a major role in facilitating them. A recent example is Waitrose new in-home delivery service, the first of its kind in the UK, which gives delivery drivers access to a customer’s house to unpack groceries while they are out. The service allows customers with a smart lock to set a temporary access code via a secure app, which is sent to the driver when they arrive at the property. Once the delivery is complete, the code immediately expires.
In-home deliveries is just one of many new methods though that retailers are using to take the friction out of shopping. Here are five other shopper lifehacks that could be coming to a grocer near you:
Check-out free stores: There’s nothing more frustrating in a supermarket than having to trudge around to find the products you want and then wait in long queues to buy them. Imagine though if there was no cashier at all and all shoppers had to do once they had found what they wanted, is place it in a bag and walk out? This is exactly the kind of thing that could soon be widely available in the grocery sector. Sainsbury’s is currently trialling a new service that allows customers to scan products in-store using its Smartshop app and pay for them using Apple pay. Amazon Fresh is also planning to open its own range of supermarkets in the UK offering this ultra-fast method of payment.
Voice-activated services: With almost half of UK households expected to own a smart speaker by 2022, voice commerce is quickly emerging as a key channel for retailers. The creative possibilities for service innovation through voice tech are almost endless. For example, many grocers publish recipes on their websites and use this to market their own products. Voice interaction offers the opportunity to do the same but with an easier, hands-free experience. Cookery channel, Food Network, created its own app called In the Kitchen, which allows people to access over 70,000 recipes from its top TV chefs using only voice commands. If a cable channel can do it, why not a supermarket?
Smarter inventories: Supermarkets have incredibly sophisticated inventory management systems, allowing them to predict how much of a certain product individual stores might need and when it will run out. Advances in data analytics mean this can now be scaled down to individuals, allowing retailers to predict when households might, for example, run out of toilette roll and sending a notification via an app or automatically ordering more.
Augmented stores: Augmented reality might seem like the stuff of science fiction, but the potential of this technology is already starting to be felt within retail environments. UK tech start-up, Dent Reality, has developed a new tool for smartphones, which allows people to see real time information on food as they move around the store. Users simply hold their phone camera over a product and easy to read nutritional and pricing information pops up on the screen. Augmented reality could also help to make stores far easier to navigate, saving valuable time for shoppers. US grocer, Lowes, has launched an app which allows customers at some of its stores to locate products using augmented reality. When the store aisle is viewed through a smartphone’s camera, arrows appear on the floor directing shoppers to where they need to go.
Robot packers: Online deliveries have been growing rapidly over recent years. But, for most retailers, the rate at which products can be delivered still hasn’t matched the speed of shoppers simply popping to the local store to buy it direct. Ocado is beginning to address this issue though with advanced robotics. The retailer is currently trialling a new automated grocery picking and packing system at one of its depots in England that can recognise products, determine the best grasp and then pack them carefully into a box. While it used to take two hours for 50 products to be placed into a box at the depot, the system allows it to be done in just five minutes. As more retailers embrace technology like this, online deliveries could quickly become the fastest option.