The world of grocery shopping looks very different from the one we knew a decade ago. Ordering groceries online is easier and more popular than ever before. Widespread delivery is now offered by virtually every grocery store, either from the retailer itself or from a third-party delivery service like Shipt or Instacart. Curbside pickup has also increased, with many retailers heavily promoting this option even before COVID-19 ushered in a world of social distancing.
These options give consumers the freedom to shop as they please, but they are only the beginning. I believe that in the future, shoppers will embrace a mixed mode of shopping—a hybrid of digital and in-store grocery experiences. Instead of sticking to one format, they will become comfortable with the idea of seamlessly moving from one to the other as their needs arise—and retailers will adapt to these growing expectations.
Woolworths has deployed its first micro-automation technology in the e-commerce facility located at the back of its existing Melbourne-based Carrum Downs supermarket, in a bid to speed up the delivery of online grocery orders.
The supermarket giant claims to be the first in Australia to deploy the Takeoff technology, which has been designed to sort and move up to 10,000 grocery products from automated storage units to team members that are handpicking customer orders. Fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat will continue to be handpicked from the shop floor, Woolworth said.
According to Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci, automating the picking of products will help dispatch five times the online order volume of a standard Woolworths store.
“As customer expectations continue to rise, we’re investing in new technology to keep pace with the growth and focusing on building an ever more convenient online offer,” he said.
When you shop at a Schnucks grocery store, you may share the aisle with Tally the shelf-scanning robot. Made by Simbe Robotics, Tally is autonomous and scans shelves for inventory to make restocking easier. Schnucks is expanding its use of the robot to 62 locations, which will allow Tally to scan more than 4.2 million products every day.
“The real-time data Tally collects helps retailers like Schnucks ensure shelves are stocked, prices are correct, and the products customers are looking for are where they expect them to be. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Tally has been crucial to Schnucks’ success. Tally has been able to keep track of inventory and replenishment, while simultaneously minimizing the amount of time workers need to spend in the aisles, keeping customers happy and workers safe,” Brad Bogolea, co-founder and CEO of Simbe Robotics, said.
CMO of PULSE, the robotics and technology company. Recognized Thought Leader in strategy, retail, e-commerce and micro-fulfillment.
In an effort to more cost-effectively fulfill online grocery orders for its customers, Amazon has opened a “dark store,” which is more of a warehouse than a store. Located in Brooklyn, New York, Amazon’s dark store will be a good test of the concept to determine how big of a role the stores will play as the company accelerates investment in the grocery ecosystem.
Amazon is confronted with many of the same challenges as its grocery competitors, like Walmart, Kroger, Albertsons and Ahold Delhaize. Among the challenges is how to meet the increasing demand for online grocery ordering and delivery.
On the surface, fulfilling online grocery orders appears to be a fairly simple and straightforward process. It’s not. Consumers purchase a wide variety of products, resulting in a mixture of small,