AR, drones, voice interfaces: what awaits grocery retail and what does mobile technology have to do with it?

So far, the share of online food sales in the total retail structure is not large. However, the volume of such trade is expected to triple in a decade. And, according to Alexander Boytsov, executive director of Arcsines, technologies will become the drivers of online grocery retail.

Hypermarkets are losing popularity. People increasingly prefer small convenience stores or shop online, paying attention to discounts, promotions and special offers.

Food retailers are building an omnichannel development strategy: Azbuka Vuka and Perekrestok offer to buy products with delivery. The trend is most evident in overseas markets, where online giants Amazon and Alibaba have already opened their stores.

The share of e-commerce in the grocery segment is expected to triple in the next 10 years, and mobile technologies will be the driver of the upcoming retail transformation. By 2019, most Russian grocery chains have already acquired mobile applications. As a rule, their functionality is limited to a loyalty program, information about stores, promotions and discounts. The user account and his personal account replace the plastic card, and information – outdoor advertising or leaflets. Some offer additional “chips”: make a shopping list, check the authenticity of goods by scanning a barcode, look at recipes for cooking.

In fact, mobile technologies open up much greater opportunities for the sale of FMCG products: face-to-face payment, drone delivery, shops without cashiers, and much more.

Virtual shopping cart

You come to the store, take the goods, and they end up in a virtual basket – you don’t need to put anything on the tape and wait until everything is punched out.

The Scan & Go technology is remotely similar to a virtual shopping cart: with the help of a special device or in a mobile application, customers scan barcodes and pay for goods through a special terminal. Perekrestok decided not to divert store visitors to third-party services and released its own mobile application for scanning and paying for goods via a smartphone. The buyer does not depend on the load of cashiers and can control the list of goods and the purchase amount.

Amazon Go launched a virtual shopping cart in December 2016. Shoppers enter the building using their smartphone. Cameras and sensors track the movements of a person, “see” the goods that he puts in the basket, and immediately add them to the basket of the mobile application. If the customer changed his mind and returned the product to the shelf, it also disappears from the virtual shopping cart. He does not need to scan anything – smart devices do everything themselves, including debiting the required amount from his account at the exit. In addition to Amazon, such technologies are used by Walmart and the American startup Standard Cognition.

Mobile check-out

Queues in front of the checkout are annoying. Companies are working to make this tedious process easier and faster. The mechanics of the same Amazon Go looks close to ideal: upon exit, the money is debited from the linked card, the receipt is saved in the mobile application.

When paying, biometric technologies are also used, for example, Alibaba’s smile-to-pay: the buyer looks into the lens next to the cash register, the camera identifies the client, after which the payment is made. In Russia, a similar technology is being tested by X5 Retail Group and Magnet

.Digital product information, AR

You are sitting on the couch watching a cooking show. They are preparing a dish that is perfect for your dinner right now, but you do not have the right ingredients. From the comfort of your couch, you put on your augmented reality device and find yourself in the grocery store. Your device is connected to a smart TV that you were watching a cooking show on a few seconds ago. And now you are in the store, the virtual guide guides you to the shelves with ingredients, you check and put everything in the virtual basket. The shopping list shows the running amount during shopping. Once you have paid, the store fulfills the order and delivers the shopping cart right to your door.

This scenario looks too utopian, but augmented reality is getting closer. Microsoft, Sony, HTC, Google and Samsung are releasing their own virtual reality devices.

What does this mean for E-grocery? Retailers will be able to collect detailed information about the shopping experience – for example, record where the customer looks and how he behaves in the store.

While AR and VR in retail are in their early stages. Lift & Learn technology is gradually being introduced in stores to display information about products. The goods are installed on a special platform. When the customer takes it, a video appears on the screen next to the counter with all the characteristics, price and terms of purchase.

Delivery and pickup

Omnichannel retail assumes different purchase / payment methods and delivery options. Drone delivery is one of the most promising areas, but their application is limited by legal issues and technical difficulties. Japanese company JD.com and Rakuten are already testing them for food delivery.

Retailers strive to optimize time and make delivery as convenient as possible. The user registers his car in the mobile application, after which the Amazon couriers open the trunk and leave the order. There are also more fantastic concepts: recently, the same Ford, together with Agility Robotics, presented a delivery by a robot in an unmanned vehicle.

Self-pickup solutions are also being developed. BYPOS (buy online pick-up in-store) – you buy online, pick up at the store. In Russia, this concept was implemented by Globus.

What could be the next step? Let’s say a retailer knows that a customer goes to the store once a week and buys the same set of products. Having data about the user’s location and his standard set, the application can send a push notification and offer to collect the order for the client. Or do it, for example, every Monday or even deliver groceries to work.