Special Tech Coverage
The time has come to take stock of food retailing technology, which has seen rapid advances recently, and in the past two years particularly, with greater consideration of efficiency and effectiveness as applied not just to giant chains, but also right down to the independent neighborhood grocer.
Retail technology has advanced so quickly that it may seem too vast a subject to grasp at times, but where advantage may lie going forward is not just on the cutting edge, but also in application of what’s already established, whether refining what’s up and running or finding software or a third party that can help launch or improve a function such as e-commerce, curbside delivery or supply chain preparedness. In other words, the best approach to technology isn’t necessarily defined by adoption of the latest sensation, but by tailoring what’s available to specific business goals.
Technology and shopping have become increasingly entwined as circumstances such as the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting supply chain issues have combined with rapidly advancing systems to create new ways to satisfy increasingly diverse consumer needs. COVID-19 has encouraged retail investment in a wide range of services, in some cases expanding on existing initiatives, in some cases launching new ones.
The Kroger Co. is conspicuous by its addition of Ocado robotic fulfillment centers, which are also up and running at Canadian grocer Sobeys, and both Walmart and Amazon have been talking up their own use of automation in distribution/fulfillment. Amazon has been expanding the scope of its Just Walk Out technology in its own stores and in Hudson News outlets at more than 1,000 North American airports, commuter hubs, landmarks and tourist destinations — all convenient places to enable consumers to have a go at the technology — as well as Sainsbury’s grocery stores in the United Kingdom.