Supermarket operators have the opportunity to enhance the shopping experience by making online shopping easier and deploying other apps to speed the in-store process, said Richard J. George, a longtime professor at St. Joseph’s University’s Food Marketing program.
By taking more advantage of established — and some emerging — technologies, retailers can allow customers to order their Center Store grocery items electronically, and leave them to shop the more “fun” parts of the store — the perimeter perishables departments.
“The availability of new smartphone apps in conjunction with revamped supermarket websites will make the Center Store part of shopping easier,” he said. “Consumers will be able to do this shopping electronically and have their assortment delivered or available for pick up when they visit the store to do their traditional perimeter shopping for fresh products.”
In addition, new apps that speed checkout will become more mainstream, making that aspect of the shopping trip more convenient. Those trends could combine to help conventional supermarkets create more enjoyable shopping experiences in their stores — closer to the experience of a Whole Foods or a Wegmans, George explained.
“The question is, how do we put all those things together so that when I am in the store, I am having fun? I can pick up some fresh flowers, or some fresh artisan breads — that would be the ‘fun’ part of the store — then I go around to the back, and get everything I ordered from Center Store, and it is loaded into the trunk of my car.”
The technology to enhance the shopping experience in this way is out there, he said, it’s just a matter of retailers taking the next step and leveraging it to the benefit of their customers.
“I think we are going to see quantum leaps in this area,” George said. “I think we are going to see a lot of [retailers] who say, ‘How do we make it easier for my customer using technology?’
“2013 could be the year when ‘bricks meets clicks’ moves from talk to action.”
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