Report: Grocery stores of near future will include smaller formats, automated checkout, robots and more
A slew of technological advancements is converging to replace the traditional checkout line.
The grocery stores of the future will boast a fully automated checkout process, a greater emphasis on prepared meals, a proliferation of smaller, convenience-store grocery outlets and more collaboration between grocers and non-traditional partners such as fitness operators and restaurants, according to a report from CBRE, Los Angeles.
“The store will remain central to the grocery industry, but its format and function will be reshaped by multiple factors over the coming years,” says Melina Cordero, global head of retail research. “Grocery operators must diversify their offering to best compete, which will lead to varied store formats for different markets, non-traditional merchandise assortments and an even greater focus on customer convenience.”
Among CBRE’s predictions:
The grocery checkout line will disappear within 10 years. A slew of technological advancements is converging to replace the traditional checkout line, including carts with built-in barcode scanners and credit card swipers; mobile payment apps; weight sensors and cameras; and merchandise-scanning robots. Technology will also allow shelves to keep track of inventory. The elimination of checkout lines will allow grocery operators to free up real estate for revenue-generating functions such as click-and-collect services.
Major grocery operators will expand further into convenience store formats. The industry’s largest players are finding a strong growth opportunity in opening and operating smaller-format stores in dense, mostly urban markets. Many of these stores focus on convenience fare such as prepared meals.
Collaborations will expand grocers’ offerings. Grocers will seek to add higher-margin merchandise and services in their stores to counter the steep costs of last-mile delivery. That will include more prepared meals and in-store restaurants. It also will entail collaborations with non-traditional partners such as fitness operators and restaurants.
Intensifying competition spurs reinvestment in stores. Various large grocery operators have announced sweeping remodeling and redesign plans for portions of their U.S. store base, as competition increases from supercenters, wholesale clubs and small-format rivals. Some of this expenditure is also going to improve in-store technology and omnichannel services such as curbside pickup.