In the ongoing pandemic, we all are adapting to a new normal life. We are spending most of the time family, connecting friends and relatives online, purchasing day-to-day needs like provisions, groceries online, work from home, etc during this hard time.
A new pattern was observed during this pandemic. People have started to buy even groceries online. And many companies have started to see this as an opportunity for expanding their business. Major grocery retailers have already started to give a different shopping experience to customers, where customers can either pre-order online and pick up or act as clerks by scanning items as they go.
Experts of the Food industry say that this pandemic will increase the trend as people give importance to touchless and contactless delivery options thereby causing a boom to e-commerce grocery shopping.
Vice president of industry relations for the Food Marketing Institute Doug Baker said that due to the current situation, a lot of changes are going to come.
Baker also added that food retailers are a little bit late to the game when it comes to AI deployment compared to other retail sectors. Companies are expanding quickly, they are using customer data to understand the customer trends and stocking stores and laying out. For example, shopping data of customer shows for which products have a good market. Stores also use the shopping data to understand the trends to find out which products are showcased and where on the floor. In a nutshell, it is customizing the shopping experience and operational efficiencies.
In all ways, AI acts as a savior. AI determines the trend from the shopping data and even provide recommendations, baker said. Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery survey shows that e-grocery has increased from $4 billion in March to $7.2 billion in June. This change exhibits how stores use their resources(people) more effectively.
Robots are now used instead of humans for checking out-of-stock inventory and for reporting hazards on floors. Giant Food Stores LLC Pennsylvania based has recently adopted 200 robots in their stores.
Self-checkout is the major AI disruptions in food retail in companies like Meijer Inc and Kroger Co. Therefore, these companies are changing the grocery shopping experience. Kroger has recently announced its three new fulfillment center launching. The company uses automated warehouses, where robots take customer orders and offer home delivery. A piece of additional equipment for scan -and- go is not required. It also allows customers to see what they are scanning against the tag.
In the coming years, Baker sees a tremendous growth for food e-commerce, touchless interactions, and greater use of voice and visual AI.