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SN Off the Shelf

Podcast: Brick Meets Click’s Bill Bishop analyzes automation

Industry expert explains five ways the technology will impact grocery

Welcome to SN Off the Shelf, a podcast series from Supermarket News.

In this twice-monthly feature, SN editors talk with industry executives, experts and other grocery players about the news, trends and issues that matter most to retailers and their business partners.

Longtime industry thought leader Bill Bishop, co-founder and chief architect of Brick Meets Click (BMC), recently shed more light on a blog post in which he listed five ways that automation will impact grocery retail. In a nutshell, he forecast the following:

1. Supermarkets will become more productive and, in turn, more competitive;

2. A more educated and/or engaged and productive workforce will be attracted to food retailing;

3. Automated order selection systems will replace or reduce self-service retailing;

4. Technical breakthroughs will drive significantly lower retail costs; and

5. Customers will see a more personalized shopping experience.

“The world around us is changing very rapidly. Consumers are using digital aggressively, and it’s changing their expectations. Of course, that’s particularly strong among younger shoppers. Beyond that, competition is putting significant pressure on margins today. This automation technology is a way to maintain profitability,” Bishop said.

“Now we see automation stepping in with the opportunity to replace large sections of the supermarket,” he later explained. “That automation is able to operate in a much smaller footprint, and there’s significantly higher productivity.”

A strategic advisory firm, Barrington, Ill.-based BMC provides insight on how digital technology and new players are impacting food, grocery and other retail sectors. Bishop, for decades one of the food retail industry’s top consultants, co-founded Brick Meets Click in 2011 with current managing partner Steve Bishop.

In the podcast, Bill Bishop also gives his take on reports that Amazon plans to launch a new grocery chain and a recent pricing maneuver by Aldi.


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