While many retail categories have willingly embraced technology and implemented it at a dramatic rate over the past 15 years, the impact of technology on grocery has been much slower.
“That evolution is going to continue as retailers figure out how to use technology to engage with, and add value to, the lives of their consumers. The pace of change in the online grocery industry is now frantic as grocers try to make up for lost time,” says Barry Clogan, SVP of business consulting services, MyWebGrocer.
Clogan says that supermarkets need to learn from those using the technology well, such as Blue Apron and HelloFresh, who marry technology with the niche needs of consumers.
“In the U.K., for example, you can program your grocery delivery using an 'if this, then what' feature. So, if I complete a 10-mile run, then it automatically adds certain items to my basket. Or, if the sun shines, then it adds beer and BBQ items,” he says.
Sonia Hernandez, associate partner at The Parker Avery Group, has seen an influx of grocers coming in for help and looking to modernize their technology. She points out that it’s a huge investment for many traditional systems to undo existing legacies on the back end.
“It’s definitely behind. Grocers are still solving for inventory and pairing down mainframes so they are not ready for the new technology yet,” Hernandez says.
Technologies that Jacques sees as playing a critical role in the future of grocery are those that can help consumers better predict what they want. Grocers who do modernize can create a winning, personalized experience by coupling in-store technology with the immense amount of data.