8 technological trends to transform food retailing in 2021 - HMY

8 technological trends to transform food retailing in 2021

  • One of the sectors that has experienced the most digitalisation in 2021 is food.
  • Among the benefits, we can highlight: improvement of the user experience, cost reduction and process automation.


The pandemic and the tech boom

After months of the pandemic, all organizations dedicated to monitoring the economy and, more specifically, retail, have a clear conclusion: the technology adoption curve has skyrocketed.

Accenture, the consulting firm, has been especially clear about how online sales have grown in each sector, a clear indication of this adoption of technologies. In particular, the food sector has experienced a 333% increase.

On the other hand, in an article published at the beginning of the pandemic, McKinsey stated that the adoption of consumer technologies had taken a jump of 5 years.

But, doesn’t that go against physical retail?

It turns out that 73% of consumers are looking forward to going back to physical stores, according to a study published by IBM. Something that, along with the rate of technology adoption, sends us a clear message: the consumer is much more willing than ever to interact with technology in retail.

And one of the historical problems for technological investment by the retail sector was the absence of a consumer base educated in its use. Prudence and consumer ignorance made the risk of a negative ROI when digitizing stores and supermarkets too high.

The case at hand: even today, few food chains are truly committed to self-payment systems.

The true value of the contribution of technology to food retailing

The pandemic has changed consumers’ buying habits and they are now more comfortable with technology. It’s the food retail sector that now has to move to adapt to these new consumption habits.

The only difference is that if this change is going to be merely adaptive or there will be any brand brave enough to bet on technology as the main differential in the shopping experience.

In any case, it’s necessary to understand that online and offline are not parallel environments, but complementary. Of course, a purchase will invariably be made in one place or another, but consumers have shown that they do not want a single model, so what can food retail bring to the consumer through technology?

The 3 goals of technology: experience, costs and process improvement

At HMY we always work towards a goal: each technological solution that we offer to our clients must help them achieve three key benefits: an improvement in the user experience, based on their consumption habits, a reduction in costs for the consumer and the retailer and an increase in process efficiency.

Contact us  and let’s discuss together how to activate those three benefits for your food retail chain.

8 trends in technology that are transforming food retail

1. Digital signage

Visual impulses are becoming more and more common in an industry that, until now, barely had screens outside of the electronics section. Promotions become much more effective when we can remind the user of them at key points of their journey in an audiovisual way.

Thanks to this, the communication in our centres takes a qualitative leap, since we avoid the saturation of printed posters, and it becomes much more effective.

2. Food Click & Collect

In an interview published in Forbes, the consulting firm LatentView Analytics estimated an increase of almost 20% in the preference of consumers for contactless methods of collecting their orders. That is a 20% increase in the preference for using BOPIS (Buy-Online-Pick-Up-In-Store) or Click & Collect systems.

Consumers are telling us that they want to avoid the economic and environmental problems of home or assisted delivery. Something that we can provide, thanks to Click & Collect systems such as HMY Cleveron solutions

3. Capacity control

In some countries (such as France), due to legal obligations and, in others, to reinforce consumer confidence, automatic capacity measurement systems are being implemented, which notify consumers when they can enter the establishment. 

Additionally, this is a technology that we can also take advantage of to collect data on the influx of customers, in real-time, to the points of sale.

4. Digital queue management

Until now, queue management systems have been mere functional elements to solve a problem: bottlenecks in supermarkets and hypermarkets. But the result is still consumer accumulation in the fresh food areas, who do not want to lose their turn with the consequent increase in frustration and insecurity.

Digital queue management solutions help food retailers solve this problem through a system that allows customers to pick a turn in multiple sections and viewing the progress of orders on digital signage systems distributed in different parts of the centre.

Thanks to this, the consumer can take a turn at the entrance of the establishment, make their purchase while they wait and have the peace of mind that, regardless of the section they are in, they know when it is going to be their turn.

5. Autonomous stores, getting closer and closer

Amazon, Walmart and Alibaba have led this fast-growing trend in the past decade. 

In early 2020, an estimated 200 automated stores were opened in China alone, although the waters seem to have calmed a bit on this matter and investments in automation seem to have been redirected to delivery robots , but along the way, there are many lessons learned in sensor technology, artificial intelligence for visual analysis and fast payment.

6. Scan & Go on your smartphone

Some businesses are already using this new self-scanning trend, through which consumers simply scan the barcode in the products with their smartphone, minimizing physical procedures during the purchasing process.

This system is having a great reception among users due to its simplicity and how much more agile making a purchase is thanks to it. Such is the acceptance it has had, that according to the latest survey carried out by SOTI, 66% of consumers prefer to use this method in the supermarket.

The self-scanning system is also a step ahead of traditional scanners in health terms since it eliminates the hygienic risk of these and automatically allows people to maintain social distance.

And, as if all this were not enough, this technology has a great capacity to collect data on customer behaviour, which allows companies to assess key aspects such as users’ purchasing patterns and their level of satisfaction.

7. The Digital Sommelier

This simple technology allows the Digital Sommelier to guide you, via a simple questionnaire, to the wine that best matches the menu you have chosen for every occasion.

In addition to helping to choose the right wine, it enhances cross-selling, because the system recommends recipes and displays the shopping list so that the customer can purchase the ingredients right there and then.

These advantages are not just at the user level, but also at the company level, the main ones being:

  1. Increase in sales volume: this occurs directly, through the information given to the consumer about the characteristics and storytelling that make the product unique. This allows the user to make a comparison between the different products and generate a great brand impact due to the attraction they achieve, thanks to this technology. Once they know the buying behaviour, companies can launch various promotions to achieve customer loyalty. 
  2. Reduction of operational costs, compared to more traditional solutions because it enables the immediate launch of campaigns and carries out a real-time analysis of their effects. This facilitates increased scalability and operational efficiency. By having all the products at hand, the Digital Sommelier gives greater visibility to the e-catalogue and ultimately generates more sales.
  3. Memorable shopping experience: thanks to the information provided to the customers, this inspires them throughout the purchase process and offers them an exciting experience, thus increasing brand awareness among users. This technology offers a new form of dynamic communication between companies and consumers. 

8. Dynamic labels

A typical customer is only capable of seeing 0.2% of the products on the shelves during a normal purchase. This electronic ink labelling technology draws the customer’s attention to the exact product we want to promote.

Its advantages include:

  • Increase in sales.
  • Attracting the user’s attention by animating the contents.
  • Direct differentiation from the competition.
  • Higher profitability than traditional POS material.

If you want to find out more about how we can digitalise the food sector, do not hesitate to contact us, or download our free guide with the keys to omnichannel sales in retail.