Things Are Looking Up – The Future of E-Grocery

The Future of E-Grocery

There are few things destined for growth and e-grocery is one of them. This is owed to the disruption caused by the pandemic. It has brought about an incredible change in consumer behaviour and finally broken one of the most difficult shopping patterns—grocery shopping.

Although online shopping has cast a shadow on most retail stores, the case has never been true for the grocery business, which is known to be a tough territory to profit in. This has taken a sharp U-turn in just a few months, with customers hoarding in a panic to a steady transition to shopping for groceries online. Grocers are mirroring this shift by sprucing up their front-end tools, investing in new platforms and building innovative fulfilment models. This article will explore the wave of anticipated competition, online threats, how retailers are amping up their game and the role of logistics technology. 

The challenges with online grocery businesses are many—price transparency, delivery and fulfilment costs, and the natural resistance to buying fresh foods online. While some customers are less likely to make impulse purchases online when it comes to groceries, others want deliveries within the hour. For this reason, making the online experience intuitive and attractive along with agile delivery systems is of prime importance. 

The Future is Personalized

Micro-fulfillment centers are fast emerging as the solution to most e-grocery problems by bringing greater clarity and creating a more personalized shopping experience. Their main areas of focus are pick-up time and last-mile delivery, and more importantly, they can be installed in existing market setups. The future consumer will want to make grocery decisions based on the health and diet requirements, needs and even values. Tech aims to create a ‘supermarket of the future’ which can be attained through innovation in the following areas in e-grocery businesses in the years to come:

1. Automation

Reduced cost and manual labor are two of the many benefits of automation. They create the focus and energy for retailers to create an enhanced shopping experience for their customers. Smart merchandising solutions will not just eliminate waste but also make brick-and-mortar business spaces more attractive by making them more efficient and reliable. 

Time and money can be saved in warehouses with the help of an automated inventory management system. Companies are also dedicated to creating pallet carts and automated vehicles so that drivers are freed from the monotony of certain tasks. A great example of this is Ocado’s warehouse in Andover, Massachusetts, which can process more than 3.5 million items every week. The company is also developing robots that can pick up and handle odd-shaped items. 

2. Artificial Intelligence

The rules of Artificial Intelligence (AI) are simple: collect, analyze and retrieve data. A strong AI can replicate the human brain, even if it cannot replace it. It aids retailers in:

  • Controlling supply 
  • Controlling and predicting customer demand
  • Managing marketing and pricing
  • Creating promotional campaigns and advertising
  • Streamlining store operations

3. Omnichannel Experience

A strong omnichannel strategy helps to get an insight into the customers’ shopping habits, their brand preferences, the time they take to shop, their shopping preferences, etc to help improve their shopping experience. Loyalty programs are a great way to do this. 

4. Enhanced Shopping Experience

Between real and virtual shops lies a sweet spot that combines the best of both worlds—enhanced digital shopping experiences within brick-and-mortar stores. An example of this is placing an online order within the store from a terminal. These are the items the customer does not wish to spend time picking, and for the remaining order, they can go around and select the items themselves and save time. 

5. Drone Delivery

Drones can help e-grocery take-off (no pun intended), and though it is a plan that is set in the future, some companies have taken the giant step. In September 2020, Walmart partnered with Isreal-based drone delivery company called Flyrex, to test drones for delivery. “The drones, which are controlled over the cloud using a smart and easy control dashboard, will help us gain valuable insight into the customer and associate experience, from picking and packing to takeoff and delivery,” said Tom Ward, the Senior Vice President Walmart, as quoted on their website. 

Logistics Tech Can Help

Logistics tools can help e-grocery businesses flourish even as they cater to the increasing demands in food supplies. Brands must stay true to their promise of same-day-delivery if they wish to stay on top of their game. This can be accomplished with the following:

  • Automated Dispatch Planning – Dispatch planning is typically a tedious and cumbersome process. Advanced route optimization solutions improve logistics planning efficiency by planning on-demand daily dispatches.
  • Accurate Geocoding and Optimal Routing Geocoding converts physical addresses into exact location points on a map. Route optimization software can then take these points to plan the shortest routes while ensuring to steer clear of on-ground traffic and restrictions.
  • Smart-Rider Allocation – The right rider can be assigned for every task. The software can assign the right rider by taking into account rider area preferences, skill sets and even rider’s working time restrictions.
  • Real-Time Visibility – Apart from being essential to businesses and customers alike, it helps ensure productivity and faster delivery services.
  • Smart Analytics- The system keeps collecting on-ground data while executing the tasks which can then help with better strategizing.

Though online grocery has been around for years, it is only now that it is beginning to carve a dent in major markets. Strong omnichannel strategies and small scalable micro fulfillment centers shine a light on the future path of e-grocery delivery businesses.

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.

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