Grocers Leverage Tech to Make Shopping More Convenient

EMEA, Shopic, grocery, retail

From in-store solutions to third-party aggregators to first-party eCommerce platforms, grocers this week shared a range of initiatives to increase the convenience of their customers’ shopping journeys.

Kroger, for one, opened its “store of the future” in the Cincinnati area, local NBC affiliate WLWT5 reported, which, among other tech upgrades, expands the grocer’s test of its KroGo smart carts created in partnership with Instacart subsidiary Caper. These carts use their scales and vision technology to recognize items, so that consumers can ring their own items up as they shop and check out via the cart.

The store also offers the belted self-checkout lanes that Kroger has been trying out in recent months.

“We think it’s going to be game-changing,” Kroger spokesperson Erin Rolfes told Louisville Business First. “What customers are going to see that’s very different from other stores is that front end where they check out.”

In an interview with PYMNTS’ Karen Webster for the PYMNTS and PayPal collaboration series “Digital Payments Flip the Script: 10 Merchants and 10 Visions for Digital Transformation,” Caper CEO and Instacart Vice President Lindon Gao explained that smart carts can drive basket size. That is, the cart’s computer vision and artificial intelligence (AI) can remember what shoppers forget, prompting them as they go down each aisle with reminders, recipes and other content.

“By piecing these together, we could actually help customers complete their journey in a much faster way, such that they don’t end up in a checkout line realizing that they forgot something,” he said. “Because of that, we have seen average basket size increases.”

Aldi US Kicks off eCommerce Platform Rollout

With eCommerce making up an increasing portion of all grocery sales, merchants that do not have their own first-party ordering sites risk falling behind, depending on aggregators such as Instacart to meet digital demand and consequently losing valuable customer data and a portion of the sale.

The United States arm of German discount grocer Aldi, for one, announced Tuesday (Oct. 25) that it is working with eCommerce solution provider Spryker to create its own online shopping site powering grocery delivery or curbside pickup orders. Currently, the grocer’s site is informational, and its pickup and delivery tabs link out to Instacart-powered pages.

The grocer’s eCommerce platform with Spryker is being tested with a limited number of shoppers with plans to roll it out across the country in multiple phases.

“Our partnership with Spryker will allow our shoppers another way to access the incredible value they expect from Aldi,” Vice President of National Buying Scott Patton said in the announcement.

With the grocer’s 2,200 stores across 38 states, the fact that it has not yet had a first-party eCommerce site marks a competitive disadvantage, with rivals increasingly stepping up their digital platforms to drive sales, gather customer data, build loyalty and grow more targeted with their marketing.

Schnucks Partners With Instacart on 30-Minute Delivery

In addition to building out first-party eCommerce sites, grocers are looking to do more with their aggregator partnerships. Schnucks, which has 112 stores across four Midwestern states, announced Monday (Oct. 24) that it is offering 30-minute delivery with Instacart across all the markets in which it has a presence, dubbing the offering Schnucks Now.

“Schnucks is always looking for new ways to streamline our digital experience and provide value and convenience to our customers,” the Senior Director of Digital Experience Chace MacMullan said in the announcement. “We are excited to introduce this new service to meet our customers’ urgent grocery needs and proud to expand on our current delivery options available through Schnucks Delivers.”

All these efforts come as grocers look to maximize convenience across digital and physical channels to outcompete rivals, promising easier checkout experiences, quicker fulfillment and more.