The customer has changed, and their new needs have led to a transformation in the store itself. It is no longer just a place to buy products but an environment that offers exclusive experiences and conveys new values.
Enhancing the customer experience and enabling this change is possible through technological transformation, which plays a central role in physical stores. Various technologies are revolutionizing physical stores, all with the ultimate goal of creating value, including customer satisfaction. Therefore, technology today must focus on two key themes for retail: digital transformation and sustainability. These are the drivers that will attract the new generation of customers.
Customers increasingly seek environmentally conscious stores that offer specials and targeted discounts. In Canada, online food retail sales accounted for 3.3% of all sales in 2020, compared to only 1.7% in 2019. This trend is expected to continue and increase further as the final numbers for 2021 are tallied. This shift in consumer behavior will have long-lasting effects even after the resolution of the pandemic. Customers now expect to purchase groceries online and have become adept at using grocery apps and platforms.
Most stores are now implementing contactless card payments to expedite the check-out process. An increasing number of supermarkets also feature scan-and-go apps that allow customers to scan items as they place them in their shopping cart. Major grocers have introduced smart grocery carts where customers can scan a QR code on their smartphone, log into the app, fill the cart with groceries, and pay for the order on their way out of the store. The app can also provide wayfinding assistance within the store and offer information on product reviews, ethical sourcing, demonstration videos, and complementary goods when scanning a QR code. Furthermore, the app can attempt to upsell customers on items with higher profit margins, provide a customer satisfaction survey after checkout, serve as a repository for receipts and warranty information, and feature an alert section for recalls.
According to Walmart’s most recent 10-K report, the company invested $7.2 billion in supply chain, omnichannel, and technology in fiscal year 2022. Technology investments have helped Walmart streamline its e-commerce fulfillment process, reducing it from a 12-step to a five-step endeavor. Walmart is also investing in in-store automation to alleviate the burden on associates and improve workflow. The company strategically aligns its investments with changes in shopper behavior, particularly the growing revenue driver of e-commerce.
The grocery business is undergoing an unprecedented digital transformation, driven by consumers, powered by technology, and accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic. Digital transformation presents significant challenges and opportunities in the highly competitive world of the grocery industry. This theme will be discussed at the EU CBEC Forum, where industry leaders will gather to explore the transformation of supermarkets and the latest trends to follow. Come and visit us to discover more about this supermarket transformation and the future of the industry.