This past year has brought on a number of changes regarding the “typical” way of doing things. One of the biggest changes has been how we shop for groceries. Grabbing a shopping cart and filling it with fresh produce, fruits and vegetables has been the way the world buys food for a long time. However, the pandemic has made consumers uncomfortable with this method as it can be time consuming and involve crowds. Grocers have taken this opportunity to explore automation and online shopping within their stores.
The Rise of Online Grocery Orders
While some grocery stores had rolled out online shopping programs prior to the pandemic, they drastically increased in popularity as a result. Shoppers can fill their carts online, pay and either pick up their purchases or have them delivered. For many shoppers, reducing or completely eliminating their time spent in grocery stores is worth any additional cost. According to industry data, the adoption rate for online grocery shopping has exploded. Consumers who use this method once or twice are 80% likely to come back and place another order.
The demand for online grocery shopping is beginning to outweigh the number of employees available to support the initiative by assembling orders. As a result, popular grocery stores like Walmart, Kroger and Albertsons are starting to invest in high-tech solutions involving robots packaging these orders for them. Some stores already have robots walking through aisles and taking inventory data.
Make Way for Fully Automated Grocery Stores
Robots able to package online orders are just the beginning of automation in grocery stores. Urbx is a startup company that’s planning on building a grocery story with an automated fulfillment system called Urbx Market. Construction of its first location in Boston will be finished by the end of 2022. Instead of containing product aisles and a service department, Urbx Market will have ordering kiosks for customers to use and robots that deliver orders within minutes.
Consumers value an in-store shopping experience because they are able to see, smell and even touch products before purchasing. However, the pandemic has changed things and quick fulfillment with limited contact has become more important. This change in mindset made way for entirely automated grocery stores like Urbx Market. Shoppers will be able to select, purchase and receive their quality products faster than ever before. Thanks to the elimination of costly, manual processes, these quality products will be available at consistently low prices.
The implementation of advanced technology in grocery stores is just beginning. Robots have already started improving operational efficiencies and will expand as more brands invest. With one of the first fully automated grocery stores set to open its doors at the end of next year, it’s safe to say that the future of shopping for groceries is on the fast track for change!