By: Doug Baker, Vice President, Industry Relations, FMI
In the ever-evolving grocery retail landscape, 2024 promises to be a year of groundbreaking innovations that reshape how consumers shop, and businesses operate. At the recent FMI Midwinter Executive Conference, the FMItech Friday session immersed participants in the dynamic world of the food and beverage industry offering valuable insights from Plug and Play, an early-stage venture capital and global innovation platform.
"It was exciting to see so many leaders across Grocery, CPG, and Supply Chain discussing how the industry will evolve according to technological advancements like AI as well as consumer needs like customer safety and supply chain transparency. We are seeing innovative startups emerging in these segments and are excited for the partnerships that will start forming," said Alex Davisson, Plug and Play Ventures Associate.
At the forefront of this revolution is integrating omnichannel strategies driven by technologies such as beacon sensors, connected products and advanced order fulfillment systems. These small, low-energy devices communicate with smartphones, guiding shoppers through the store and offering personalized promotions. Additionally, connected products with smart labels and RFID technology provide real-time information about freshness and sourcing, enhancing the overall shopping experience.
Efficient Order Fulfillment: Streamlining the Supply Chain
The demand for faster and more efficient order fulfillment has led to the adoption of advanced technologies. Automated warehouses with robotics and artificial intelligence ensure accurate and swift packing and dispatching of orders. This reduces operational costs and enhances customer satisfaction through timely deliveries.
Personalization: Catering to Consumer Preferences and Health Trends
The future of grocery retail lies in personalization. Retailers are harnessing consumer data to tailor shopping experiences. From customized promotions to curated product recommendations, personalization is becoming a key driver of customer loyalty. Focusing on healthy living has prompted retailers to offer personalized nutritional guidance, creating a symbiotic relationship between consumers and their chosen grocery stores.
Phygital Shopping Experience: Blurring the Lines Between Physical and Digital
The fusion of physical and digital shopping experiences, known as "phygital," is gaining momentum. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies are being employed to enhance the in-store experience, allowing customers to virtually try out products before purchasing. This innovative approach not only engages shoppers but also bridges the gap between online and offline retail environments.
Employee Enablement: Electronic Shelving, Robotics, and Handheld Devices
Empowering employees with cutting-edge technology is another crucial trend in 2024. Electronic shelving systems assist in inventory management, ensuring products are easily located and restocked. Robotics handle repetitive tasks, freeing up human resources for more value-added activities. Handheld devices with real-time data enable staff to provide better customer assistance and streamline operations.
Retaining Flow: Self-Checkout, CCTV Tracking, and Biometric Access
Seamless and secure checkout experiences are a priority for grocery retailers. Self-checkout options offer convenience and speed to customers. CCTV tracking and biometric access systems enhance security measures, to ensure a safe shopping environment and maintain a smooth flow of customers through the store.
Sustainability: Waste Reduction, Branding, and Traceability
Grocery retailers are embracing sustainability initiatives with strategies including waste reduction through intelligent inventory management, eco-friendly branding practices and enhanced traceability to ensure product sourcing transparency. These efforts align with consumer values and contribute to a positive brand image.
A convergence of innovative technologies marks the grocery retail landscape in 2024 to enhance the overall shopping experience, promote sustainability and empower customers and employees. As the industry continues to evolve, those who embrace these trends will undoubtedly thrive in the competitive market.
As a resource exclusive for helping FMI members find technology partners, the FMItech Directory provides a comprehensive partner and supplier list focused on technology for automation strategies, e-commerce, supply chain, food safety and more.