25 Jan 2023

The Future Supermarket

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Many of us can still hear the theme song to the Jetsons. As George gets into his flying car to head off to work, it’s time to “meet his boy Elroy.” While we aren’t exactly hovering to work quite yet, the show accurately predicted life in the future in many ways.

 

3D printing, flat screen televisions, video calls, smart watches, and even holograms appeared in the 1960s cartoon.

 

Did IBM Really Have A Crystal Ball into the Future?

Fast forward to 2006. IBM runs this ad about the future supermarket: 

 

 

Each January, the National Retail Federation hosts one of the biggest trade shows in the nation. More than 30,000 people descended upon New York City to see what the biggest trends in retail will be this year and beyond.

 

AI Takes Center Stage at NRF

At NRF 2023, AI took center stage. Robotics and Amazon's "Go" store along with other instore and supply chain automation technologies stood out among the many tech trends leading the industry.

Speaker-at-NRF-2020

 

A curious observer might think "why did it take 17 years for the future to happen", however the reality is the retail industry moves at a rate that is "in step" with technologies true ability to add value AND with consumer acceptance of different technologies. No wonder so many technology providers focus on this industry!

In a previous blog, we discussed how businesses across all industries are transforming the way they work as technology becomes key for restructuring their systems. And retailers are leading the way.

 

Retailers Leading the way in Digital Transformation

Smart sensors are being integrated into stores across the country. These enable not only customer facing technologies and also improve operational efficiencies across the entire business.

 

Take any large retailer, with a need for visibility into thousands of stores. How many fires are they putting out each hour? How many audits need to be completed each day? How do they stay on top of key performance indicators store by store? Through the use of sensors and cameras, their jobs instantly become significantly more efficient.

 

using-tablet-for-data-sharing

But how do you get your customers and employees on board? How do we get past the big brother is watching mentality?

The answer is simple: You give them solutions that empower them.

As humans we are (well some of us!) innately lazy. Wouldn’t we all love a Rosie the Robot to take care of every daily need? Additionally, we are becoming less patient-we do not want to wait in long checkout lines. And store associates do not want to spend hours logging information that can be simplified and amplified by digitizing existing paper based processes and workflows..

 

smart-room-sensor

 
 

Are Smart Sensors the Answer?

As these sensor enabled technologies become more mainstream the main question retailers need to answer is how to define and measure the ROI? How do sensors and cameras, connected to smart applications, improve the customer experience and employee satisfaction while boosting the top and bottom lines?
 
Technology is going to continue to improve. Software and Hardware are going to continue to work together more seamlessly. The winners will be the retailers and technology providers who can implement with the “right” amount of, dare we say it, human support that stays with the retailer along the entire “application journey”. Let’s call that “Software with a Service”.
 
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