Times are a-changin’. To be fair, they have been changing ever since the boom of E-commerce. It is the pandemic that really shook things up though, and now that we’re more than a year into it, the face of retail looks completely different.
As more and more customers hop online to make purchases, store isles are emptier than usual. But surely, this can’t mean a death sentence for supermarkets? The noble brick-and-mortar stores cannot vanish just like that. Strict cleaning and hygiene processes, social distancing protocols, and a number of restrictions have helped curb the current situation in-store to promise a safer shopping experience.
Still, a steadily dropping footfall demands innovation and flexibility in the way a sale is made. Sanjeev Kumar, a forecast analyst at Forrester Research, focuses on the importance of increased investment in logistics, AI technologies, and inventory management software in order for supermarkets to survive and thrive. David Katz, a New York-based specialist in retail store design, suggests creating more flexible designs in supermarkets that make the shopping experience stress-free for customers.
Supermarkets in the US and all over the world have turned to home delivery to keep up with growing demands in the past year. In India too, the renowned hypermarket chain Big Bazaar delivers nearly 60,000 orders daily, with stores like DMart and More Retail following suit. Customers can place an order via their app, website, and even Whatsapp. The change is accepted gladly in a country like India, where kirana stores have offered home delivery for ages.
Making click-and-collect the thing of the future
Last year, with soaring E-commerce demands, the click-and-collect model was adopted by retail chains such as Whole Foods, Albertsons, Ahold Delhaize, and Target. Others waived their pick-up fee, service improved, and customers flocked in huge numbers, and sales went up. However, the trend shows real potential, and by making better use of outdoor spaces, the pick-up can be an experience in itself—a place where the customer can buy a drink or a takeout meal before scooting off.
While e-grocery has picked up in the last few years, it still remains a young player when compared to big guns such as Walmart, Costco, and Kroger. Retail giants, with their long history of real-world trading, have spent years earning the trust of customers which is hard to match.
Tech to the rescue!
Online shopping can be as easy as check-in and check-out, but it also makes room for immersive shopping experiences. Customers seek shopping advice online and are more adventurous with their brand choices. Traditional supermarkets need to keep up with these demands to stay in the game.
Technology can help to cut costs, eliminate specific steps completely so stores can operate better and smarter. Machine learning algorithms can make managing stock easier, and virtual shelves can come into play, seriously cutting down on labor costs and effort. Digitization can ensure less paperwork and less time spent in queues during checkout and even self-checkout terminals. Customers’ purchase history can lead to better insight and help create personalized shopping experiences.
Read More about consumer goods supply chain.
Logistics tools can help supermarkets meet increased demands in online orders and execute same-day deliveries with ease. This can be accomplished by making use of the following processes offered by Locus:
Automated Dispatch Planning – Advanced route optimization solutions help to plan on-demand daily despatches efficiently. High cancellation and reschedule rates can also be dealt with by effectively utilizing idle time.
Optimal Routing and Accurate Geocoding – By converting physical addresses into exact location points on a map, geocoder saves both time and resources. Route optimization software then creates the shortest routes to steer clear of on-ground traffic.
Real-Time Visibility – This is beneficial to both the brand and the customer, ensures transparency, and helps avoid unnecessary delays in delivery.
Smart-Rider Allocation – Assigning the right rider for every task is done by taking into account the rider’s skillsets, work-time restrictions, and area preferences.
The challenge for supermarkets is to win against traditional players standing up to the big E-commerce businesses and not let them take away their loyal customers. This is an opportunity for retailers to respond to changing consumer trends with seamless in-store and online experiences.
Locus offers a range of AI-based logistics solutions to enterprises in grocery, retail, and E-commerce markets. Get in touch with our experts for a quick tour of our offerings.