The Future of Grocery Stores

Automation has changed the entire retail landscape as we know it and when it comes to grocery stores, those changes are nothing short of inventive. The surge of online shopping has brought about a revolution in convenience. With the click of a mouse, customers no longer have to leave the comfort of their home and travel to a store to browse its aisles and make purchases; instead, stores now digitally come to the consumer. Digital storefronts are challenging brick and mortar shops in almost every consumer product category. However the most vital of these categories is still being sold at physical retailers, and that’s groceries.

Grocery stores around the world have allowed customers to order food and household items online for years. “Amazon, the world’s largest e-commerce company, set up its Fresh subsidiary specifically to bring its speedy deliveries to the grocery space. Despite these efforts, a recent study showed that only two percent of food and alcohol sales in the US are made online.”

Kroger made plans in 2018 to partner up with Nuro, a driverless food delivery service. This company uses a compact autonomous vehicle to deliver products to the consumer. I think this solves the wrong problem though. Despite the small percentage of food and alcohol sales made online, there is change coming to the grocery industry. Company’s like Kroger need to realize that if shoppers are willing to forgo online grocery shopping and delivery in favor of visiting physical stores, then an autonomous vehicle delivering food will not move the needle very much. In 2017 a survey was done to gauge why consumers prefer to shop for their food in store, that study found that 84 percent of respondents prefer in person shopping because they can see and choose what they buy. In layman terms people are picky when it comes to their food! There has to be a physical-digital middle ground, enter Amazon Go. Launched in January of 2018 is a service that allows consumers to pull whatever products they want from the shelves and had cameras and sensors identify what they have chosen and charging them after leaving the store, therefore saving time spent waiting in a checkout line.