Mobile Innovation in the Aisles – The Future of Grocery Shopping

Primitive grocery retailers had little more than a wagon or market stall from which to peddle their wares, accepting coins or bartered goods. As grocery stores evolved in the 20th Century, trailblazers like Tennessee’s Piggly Wiggly introduced modern conveniences like self-service aisles (before which, a grocery operator functioned more like a pharmacist) and shopping carts.

In the 1930s came the supermarket. In the late 60s, grocery retailers introduced coupons and credit card readers. And in 1992, the self-checkout terminal made its grand debut.

But perhaps the largest technological leap in the history of grocery stores is the one we’re experiencing right now. Mobile innovations are radically reshaping the way people shop for food, seamlessly blending commerce channels and improving customer service.

In this article, let’s explore how mobile innovations are shaping the future of grocery shopping.

Omnichannel Commerce

For much of history, grocery retail was a “single-channel” affair. Customers interacted with a grocery store via one channel – usually a brick-and-mortar store, but, more recently, through online marketplaces as well.

By contrast, omnichannel commerce connects multiple channels for a seamless shopping experience across platforms. For instance, grocery reward apps allow stores to integrate mobile and in-store experiences. And custom shopping and prescription-filling apps allow customers to shop on their mobile phones, picking up their products when ready.

On-Demand Delivery and Robust Inventory Management

During the global COVID-19 pandemic, customers sought contactless, quick grocery delivery as an alternative to in-store shopping. However (and whenever) the pandemic ends, you can expect those consumer expectations to remain. People have become accustomed to on-demand delivery.

In the future, expect more grocery retailers to build on-demand delivery engines within mobile apps, or integrate their apps with existing third-party delivery providers. Not only will this help grocery stores stay apace with consumer demands, but it also allows them to better monitor and manage their inventory.

Interested retailers are encouraged to explore solutions from TheAppLabb’s team of app developers; Their page on grocery app development is a rich resource for understanding what’s available these days.

Emerging Technologies

Some innovative grocery stores have already embraced emerging technologies in their mobile apps. Specifically, grocery stores use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) to deliver more engaging, relevant and accessible customer service.

For instance, some grocery store apps feature AI-powered chatbots that help guide the buying process and respond to concerns/queries. AI can also help grocery retailers provide smarter product recommendations through dynamic segmentation. And AI-powered speech recognition software has allowed some retailers to implement voice-based ordering to accommodate all customers, regardless of ability.

Lastly, some grocery retailers have begun experimenting with AR to bring their products and aisles to life. When you think of grocery shopping in the future, you might think of AR technology allowing you to remotely peruse the aisles of your favorite store – without leaving your kitchen table. That future is a reality now with advanced mobile innovations.

Grocery stores have come a long way since their brick-and-mortar days. The concept of grocery shopping has gone from being a strictly physical endeavor to an omnichannel, on-demand, AI-powered and AR-engaged experience. Where will it go next?


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