The term “automation” was coined in the 1940’s by the automobile industry and related to the creation of automated processes to manufacture cars. Almost 80 years later, automation is quickly becoming the norm for most industries, including major grocery chains.

The stakes are high for an 800 billion-dollar U.S. grocery market. Big box grocery stores are shifting towards automation with self-checkout lanes, personal shoppers, and grocery delivery. Amazon Go is disrupting the entire industry with innovations that include cashier-less stores that use electronic tracking systems to charge customers based on their purchases.

While it is exciting times for the grocery industry, the key component to a seamless transition resides with equipment—scanners, self-checkout systems, tracking systems, and more. In this blog series, we will discuss the grocery industry’s journey to automation and why equipment maintenance is proving to be more important than ever to their success.

Amazon Go Disrupts Market with New Innovation

Amazon Go, created in late 2016, has forever changed the way people shop. With more than 10 locations in Seattle, Chicago, and San Francisco, Amazon Go is marketed as the world’s most advanced shopping technology. It eliminates checkout entirely. Customers simply grab and go. This cashier-less store uses tracking systems with sensors, algorithms, and cameras to determine what customers are purchasing and then charges the shopper based on that data. This approach is difficult for large retailers, but Amazon continues to disrupt the grocery market and push others to innovate.

Big Box Grocery Stores Rely on Self-Checkout, Pickup, and Delivery Services

Big box grocery stores are focusing on ways to improve the customer experience by eliminating turnoffs, like long lines.

Here are just a few ways that grocery retailers are innovating:

  • Self-Checkout Lanes – Many stores have several self-checkout lanes with one cashier overseeing numerous shoppers scanning their own merchandise.
  • Grocery Pickup – This is relatively new in many markets and involves customers shopping for all their grocery needs online. Personal shoppers at the location will then fulfill the order for the consumer to pick up outside the store location. An app is typically used to manage the entire process from order to pick up. Personal shoppers use scanners, scales and other food service equipment to complete the order.
  • Grocery Delivery – An argument can be made that the future of grocery is not even inside the actual stores. This is very new and has limited availability.

In the future, expect to see more testing and new tech-powered services hitting the grocery industry. Next week, we will discuss the importance of Equipment Maintenance during this transition to automation.