One of the most important takeaways for me from last month’s NGA Show was understanding the profound impact of technology on the retail grocery business. The education programs, alongside CPG and tech partner exhibits, helped clarify how virtually every detail of the supermarket industry is being touched by new technology solutions.
I see three technology threads, each entwined with the other. One is the explosion of mobile applications and programs that are turning grocery shoppers into high information consumers. At the touch of a mobile screen, consumers can instantly access updated information on locally sourced perishables, competitive promotions, price checks and recipe ingredient lists.
Consumer product manufacturers and marketers make up a second technology thread. By analyzing large chunks of customer data and retail sales, CPG companies are exploring innovative ways to touch their target audiences. A good place to see this is at www.advancingretail.org, a website which is replete with solutions from companies seeking to hone their marketing efforts via technology.
The third thread is in the store itself, where technology is increasingly employed to improve overall store productivity to program more effective lighting, to boost checkout efficiency, to track shopper traffic flows to improve layout and sales per square foot, or to offer customers immediate cost savings via real time wifi connections as they shop.
What is dramatic in all this is the pace with which new apps and tech solutions are coming on to the market. It can all seem a bit overwhelming, and, obviously, there’s no guarantee of an immediate or even long-term payoff for retailers trying to control costs, yet not wanting to miss the technology surge. But everyone at The NGA Show learned, tech will play a defining role in our businesses. I’m one who is convinced that these threads will weave into a pattern of rising sales and profits.