NRF: Will grocers be ready for 2030’s smart future?
With smart homes, smart stores, smart buildings, smart shoppers and smart employees, the grocery shopping experience of 2030 promises to be — you guessed it — a smart one. And the grocers that win big will be the ones that embrace smart technology. That was the major takeaway from a session at the 2019 NRF Big Show in New York City by David Marcotte, SVP of strategic advisory services at Kantar Consulting, and Carl Boutet, retail strategist at CloudRaker.
Working in conjunction with the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council, Kantar put together a speculative snapshot of what the grocery world would look like 11 years from now. The future grocery shopper will be what the presenters called an “epicurean” customer — in search of a rich, but simple experience.
Some of the big trends that the report foresees springing up alongside this new customer are:
- Smart homes assisting aging consumers: With an aging population that wants to continue living in their own homes, smart homes will increasingly take care of the person inside, with the house doing the ordering and subscribing rather than the individual.
- Smart buildings with fully-wired insides and artifices: There will be a proliferation of retail buildings created entirely of smart-surfaces, which will communicate with the smartphones of customers as they travel from their smart home to the store and assess their needs as they move through their journey. Floors, walls, ceilings and store fixtures, all made of smart, wired materials, will change in response to the customer. And stores will notify employees to address customers’ needs.
- Robots help, but don’t take over: Robots will reach the point where they will act as an extension of the shopper in the store or in the home — a type of mobile artificial intelligence.
- Smart, tech-savvy employees: Employees will be surrounded by their own bubble of smart-technology, will need to have a higher level of expertise. This will raise concerns for retailers about how to appropriately train and work with employees.
The increase in retail automation and predictive order fulfilment will also, according to the presenters, impact how businesses will be evaluated by Wall Street.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Why do you or don’t you think that the 2030 grocery landscape will resemble the one imagined by Kantar Consulting? What are your predictions for how smart technology will influence that state of retailing in 2030?