We are all familiar with the concept of a doing a regular shop at the supermarket – be it daily, a couple of times a week, weekly or beyond. Over the last 40-50 years, supermarket shopping has become a staple of food shopping. Some people might even be surprised that it has only occurred for 40-50 years. But what is now largely a duopoly – with a few more recent incursions into the market – has continued to adapt and change as we have changed.
In that time more women have gone out to work, families have become smaller, while houses have got bigger, culturally we have diversified through immigration, communication and the Internet, technology has changed – microwaves, freezers and any number of kitchen gadgets have found their way into what must now be the most technologically laden part of the home. And through all of that supermarkets have continued to grow and prosper because they have understood the need for more convenience in our food products, more variety culturally, dietary and nutritionally – how much gluten free product would you find in a supermarket a decade ago.
But what will supermarkets look like into the future – assuming they continue to adapt to our needs. Some recent research has identified the following trends:
- The dark store – with the constant growth of online purchasing across all retail sectors, the supermarkets are also starting to move down this path. A dark store is about cutting out part of the supply chain that requires the customer to visit the supermarket. These dark stores will be larger versions of supermarkets with all the usual supermarket features but with no customers – what will be there are pickers, who will be there to put together orders. It is already in the UK and starting to be implemented here.
- Becoming more of a gathering place – possibly the hub of a local community as the trend towards denser communities continues – responding to the need for a market square that was once the hub of a community – the supermarket will actually contain all the elements of broader market area including things like the bakery (already there) but other things like hot food, fast food, healthy options. Now this will happen in the context of some of the traditional elements of a supermarket disappearing (ie dry goods like toilet paper, detergents etc – as they can just be shipped to you as required and based on your smart pantry ordering). This essentially opens up what can happen and see a return to the fresh produce – emulating the old market feel.
- The look and feel of the supermarket will continue to change – from the pristine clinical look to more exposed fresh food options and indeed a café or fast food.
- Staffing will change with less at the front end – something we have already seen with self-service technology – but even this will change with many goods being RFID tagging that will automatically record you purchase as you leave the store – so no cash registers.
- More city format – small stores – that vary in size and output.
- Online shopping form a grocery perspective has been problematic in Australia because of the distances involved and the fact that Australians do seem to enjoy that sensory experience for fresh food. However, we can expect some augmentation of the shopping experience where targeted messages will be sent to you in the supermarket through your smart device telling you about specials or product information based on previous purchase history.
Like so many other parts of our lives we are going to see changes to the way we do our regular grocery shop – like it or not.