How Will Food Retail Tech Play Out in 2021?

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How Will Food Retail Tech Play Out in 2021?

By Thad Rueter - 12/09/2020
How Will Food Retail Tech Play Out in 2021?
The new study reveals that one in four food services and food retailers now view their companies as tech-forward early adopters.

Say what you will about the pandemic, but it has sparked further growth of e-commerce in the food retail space and shown how much technology matters in the grocery space. Renewed confirmation of that comes from a Panasonic survey that shows, among other things, that food retailers need to keep their tech edge going into 2021.

The new study reveals that one in four food services and food retailers now view their companies as tech-forward early adopters, up from one in eight prior to the pandemic.

"Undoubtedly, the food services and food retail industry saw many challenges this year. At the same time, many operations from grocery and convenience stores to restaurants, were able to transform in real-time to quickly meet consumers' needs," said Lauren Sallata, CMO, Panasonic Corp. of North America. "Agility has become essential to business success, and digital technology adoption the major enabler. The urgency to advance health and safety and consumer convenience is fast-tracking innovation to organizational business models in the industry."

The study found that:

  • 100% of the survey respondents said COVID-19 has increased the urgency to adopt transformational technologies.
  • 85% have experienced what they consider to be a very large impact on their business as a result of health and safety concerns.
  • 71% cited digital transformation as very important to business agility, more than any other factor.
  • 78% indicated that contactless payments are in much greater demand, resulting in the adoption of a number of solutions including food lockers for pickup, facial recognition kiosks and vehicle/license plate recognition.
  • 53% believed their customers are more willing to opt-in to personally-identifiable recognition technologies for the sake of convenience and personal safety.

This research was commissioned by and was fielded via an online survey from Aug. 17 to 31, 2020. The survey included 150 food services and food retail decision makers (120 in the U.S., 30 in Canada). The respondents included 89 restaurants (28 QSR, 28 fast casual, 27 full-service, six corporate/institutional); and 61 retailers (47 grocers, 14 convenience stores). All respondents were at director level or higher and involved in decisions for either operational technology (POS, IOT devices, handheld devices/tablets, interactive kiosks, restaurant automation and operation solutions, drive-thru solutions, mobile apps) or food storage and display (refrigeration, display cases, smart shelving).