I frequently hear conversations about whether technology has actually given people more time, or has consumed more of it, but one thing has become crystal-clear when it comes to grocery-shopping and advances in technology: undoubtedly in the grocery sector, tremendous amounts of time have been saved since customers started mixing up physical shopping with online shopping.
In December, Amazon stunned retailers, grocers, and shoppers alike with the announcement that they will be opening 2,500 brick and mortar stores, dubbed Amazon Go, across the U.S. These locations will boast simplified shopping, no checkout lines and, most importantly, convenience at every turn. Complementing Amazon’s already popular grocery-delivery programs, Pantry and AmazonFresh, Amazon Go is determined to keep their customers supplied with the most sought-after commodity of all—time.
Ben Basche of San Francisco summed up the thought process of many who are swapping out pushing shopping carts for clicking “enter” buttons, noting, “Echo + Amazon Pantry have completely replaced trips to Walgreens and the corner store for me. Not just because it’s delivered to my door within two days, but because as soon as I realize I need something like toilet paper, I can simply ask Alexa and order it right there before I forget. So it saves me both the time of going to the store and the mental RAM of needing to remember to go in the first place.”
With the dawn of AI like Echo, personal assistants and shoppers are readily available to the general public, not just to an elite few. Retailers are awakening to a new dawn when it comes to reaching and retaining their customers.
The grocery aisles of yesterday are not the aisles of today. Grocers need to know their customers in both their online and physical worlds and need to offer not just cost-saving measures, but convenience. SAP Hybris offers a must-read free study of 12,000 U.S. grocery shoppers which highlights the changing online shopping behaviors of customers, but most retailers need plenty more than a study to catch up and keep up.
Grocery retailers like Wal-Mart, Kroger, and Meijer (to name a few) have begun offering curbside pickup, allowing their regular customers to order online and simply pull-up to have their groceries loaded into their car. No more wandering down aisles while fighting crowds and long lines. Amazon has changed the way that grocery shopping and retail is being done, and grocers must recognize this today.