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Cover image for Article on Technological Trends in Grocery Stores: Ideas, Vision, Present, and Future
Kirill Dedeshin
Kirill Dedeshin

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Article on Technological Trends in Grocery Stores: Ideas, Vision, Present, and Future

Ideas for Grocery Stores
An innovative solution that allows remote monitoring of store shelves using special cameras and electronic price tags can significantly enhance the operations of retailers. This system can not only improve product accessibility on the shelves but also optimize work processes, staff placement, and customer satisfaction.

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Electronic price tags interact with wireless cameras and aid in identifying specific items on the shelves. Real-time data is collected and can be used for in-store process management.
Store employees can utilize this data to identify missing items, improper product placements, and ensure product arrangement in line with the planogram.

In the Netherlands, an interesting concept emerged in 2019 in supermarkets, aiming to facilitate communication for elderly customers. Jumbo stores introduced special zones near the cash registers where people can snack and chat. This idea drew attention from the United States, emphasizing a shift towards slower, more socially focused service in contrast to automated technologies. Other chains like Carrefour and Sobeys are also following this path.

Perhaps, in the future, we may witness a scenario where, after shopping, we engage with self-checkout kiosks, interact with robots, and share stories with one another.

Smart Cameras and Automation
In Colruyt supermarket in Halle, smart cameras have been installed above the cash registers, capable of scanning items by themselves. These cameras can recognize 85% of the products placed on the checkout counter by employees. This innovation eliminates the need for manual scanning, making the checkout process five times faster. However, larger items, such as beverage containers, still require manual scanning, and fruits and vegetables need to be weighed.
This approach is an alternative to the practice in some supermarkets where customers place items in a cart that are then scanned by smart cameras. The debate on which method is better, more convenient, and effective remains open.
In the retail sector, numerous startups are actively working on innovations. One example is the Dutch startup GreenSwapp, which is actively developing an app that provides ecological information about products. By simply scanning a product's barcode with your phone's camera, you can instantly learn about the product's environmental sustainability and carbon footprint.
This approach can help consumers make informed decisions about what to purchase, considering the ecological impact in addition to price, health considerations, and other factors.

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Trends in Localization
Recently, Whole Foods opened a unique supermarket in a historical building in Manhattan. The store features a large selection of products from local producers, with over 1,000 items sourced locally. The store collaborates extensively with local startups, offering products such as nut-based yogurt from the Brooklyn-based company CHKP Foods. The store's design carefully preserves the historical atmosphere of the building, and its location in this part of Manhattan makes it unique since there were no grocery stores in the area before.
We can expect other companies to explore similar endeavors.

AI-Driven Price Reduction
Albert Heijn, a supermarket chain from the Netherlands, is implementing a price reduction system using artificial intelligence (AI). The objective of this initiative is to sell fresh products with short shelf lives. The program gradually reduces prices throughout the day, relying on AI algorithms. The main goal is to ensure all products are sold by the end of the day, reducing product waste. This implementation is part of the company's sustainable development strategy. The system operates with different discount levels: 25%, 40%, and 70%. Prices dynamically adjust based on demand and product stock levels. Electronic price tags display the current price, original price, and the discount level.
Wasteless, an Israeli software provider for optimizing product markdowns, works with Albert Heijn as a consultant. Initially, Pricer's electronic price tags were used, but the decision was made to switch to the Hanshow system from China.

Retail and Big Data
To better understand customer behavior and offer more suitable products and services, retailers should seek data not only within stores but also consider customer interests beyond the store's confines.

Boosting Loyalty through Subscription Models
Subscription models that offer increased cashback can incentivize customers for long-term collaboration.

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AI for Process Optimization
Companies are implementing voice assistants, automated call centers, self-checkout kiosks, and automatic shelf inventory systems to optimize their operations. Further optimization of processes is expected.

Enhancing Service Quality with Computer Vision
To ensure driver comfort and monitor their condition, such as preventing drowsy driving, computer vision can play a crucial role.

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AI Will Not Replace Humans
The introduction of artificial intelligence can expedite information processing and reduce costs, but the human factor will remain an integral part of the process. Neural networks can replace consultants by providing answers to specific questions but only with proper human guidance. In this context, prompt engineering is essential.

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