February 6, 2024

Grocery Technology That Eliminates Wait Times and Lines

Grocery Technology That Eliminates Wait Times and Lines

Image of grocery store self-checkout

In 2019, grocery shopping was largely the way it had been for decades. Store aisles were lined with carts and shoppers, and people with fewer than 15 items took advantage of “express” lanes. Grocery technology was primarily comprised of a point of sale machine with integrated scale, barcode scanners, and payments. Curb side pickup and self-service were available, but adoption was low.

However, since 2020, everything changed. Consumer acceptance of digital processes like online ordering for curb side pickup and self-service accelerated, and competitive businesses needed to find ways to adapt. At the same time, grocers also had to overcome supply chain challenges, rising prices, and labour shortages, which required business leaders to reevaluate tech solutions to determine which would provide the most value and return on investment.

Competitive grocers are continuing to implement and optimize solutions, including:

  • Self-Checkout

    Since 2020, the number of self-checkout lanes has increased by 10%, and self-service now makes up 38% of checkout lanes in the U.S. In addition, 39% of shoppers use a hybrid approach to shopping, using both self-checkouts and attended lanes, depending on time and what they purchase.

    Creating the best self-checkout experiences requires technology that’s functional but also has features that make the system user-friendly. Touchscreens make self-checkout units more intuitive, and the optimal software solutions guide customers of all technical skill levels through the checkout process. Self-checkout solutions should also enforce compliance with regulations for confirming a shopper’s age for alcohol, tobacco, certain medications, and other restricted items.

    In addition to making self-checkout user-friendly, it must be practical and secure. Locating self-checkouts where staff can monitor them can help control loss and shrinkage. Self-checkout solutions should also be easy to manage and integrate with the store’s tech stack for accurate data sharing for maximum efficiency.

  • Online Ordering for In-Store or Curbside Pickup

    From 2022 to 2023, 5% more families bought groceries online, and curb side pickup increased by 7%. Adoption of these services grew out of necessity during the pandemic, but shoppers have become accustomed to the convenience. The ease of online ordering makes meal planning and budgeting easier, and consumers can eliminate the time and effort to find items on store shelves. As a result, the share of online grocery orders is forecasted to grow to 13.6% by 2027, with pickup expected to account for more than half of those grocery sales.

    As demand for online ordering and curb side pickup grows, traditional grocery store point of sale (POS) terminals won’t be adequate for managing and fulfilling orders. Mobile POS devices enable employees to see orders, adjust costs if they need to provide a substitute, or enter an item sold by weight.

    Stores can also give customers autonomy when picking up their orders, for example, with smart pickup cabinets that keep foods at the proper temperature until the shopper arrives.

  • Wayfinding

    Grocery SKUs have expanded to include a wide variety of products with different flavors, recipes, dietary needs, and package sizes. As a result, grocery stores are expansive and packed with choices, and consumers can struggle to find exactly what they’re looking for.

    A wayfinding solution can help improve shoppers’ experiences. By mapping items within the store, a customer can quickly see where products are located using a kiosk or mobile app. The solution can also help employees fulfill online orders faster and restock more efficiently.

  • Promotions via Shelf Talkers

    Although more than half of grocery shoppers use a list, only 8% say they only buy what they plan, leaving room for impulse purchases. Shelf talkers can play a role in influencing purchases on the spot. Shelf talkers have traditionally been small, brightly colored signs displayed near products, sometimes positioned 180 degrees from the shelf to stand out and capture attention. They may even dispense coupons. However, deploying and managing them takes time.

    Digital shelf talkers give grocers an easier way to capitalize on the opportunity to encourage purchases as shoppers browse items in the aisles. Grocers manage digital solutions centrally, pushing updates to deals and prices across all locations. In addition, if customers are members of the store’s loyalty program, a digital shelf talker can personalize offers. Effective use of shelf talkers can increase a promotion’s effectiveness by 2x to 4x.

  • Price Checking

    Retail grocery is one of the hardest hit industries by the worker shortage, making it imperative to allocate labour that is available to the most mission-critical tasks. Automating simple or repetitive tasks can help grocers create a strategy that results in greater productivity and good customer experiences.

    One easy win is deploying price checkers that allow consumers to check prices if they’re unsure. Grocers can work with a software developer to create systems that provide additional information, offer discounts, and upsell, which can result in an increase in average sale resulting in net new revenue.

  • Frictionless Payments

    Some grocers are exploring how to remove friction from shopping experiences to increase customer satisfaction. For example, AmazonGo’s “Just Walk Out” technology allows shoppers to sign in with an app, select items tracked by automated and intelligent technologies throughout the store, and receive a receipt when they leave.

    While this type of system may be beyond the reach of many grocers, there are other ways to decrease payment friction. One option is biometric payments. With this technology, shoppers don’t need to carry cash, payment cards, or even a smartphone. They can enroll in a biometric payments program with a facial, palm vein, or other biometric identifier, and link the scan to their payment account. At the store, they can select their groceries, scan their hand or face, and complete the transaction. It can bring even more convenience to self-checkout and curb side or in-store pickup and greater personalization to experiences.

Reclaim Customer Loyalty

For grocery retailers, research shows customer loyalty has become an uphill battle. Consider these statistics:

Implementing grocery technology that meets customers’ expectations and provides fast, efficient, personalized experiences at the grocery checkout or self-checkout, pickup, and in the aisles can help improve loyalty and build stronger customer relationships.

Traditional store operations and grocery technology won’t allow a business to meet today’s demands. New ways of operating require new technologies. Elo offers touchscreens ideal for grocery store applications. Contact us for more information on how to modernize your operation with touchscreen technology.