When it comes to grocery store technology trends, the Kroger Company is in a bit of an unusual but exciting position at the moment. Kroger is the second largest retailer in the United States behind Walmart, and the top grocery chain nationwide. While competitors like Amazon and Walmart seek to seize market share by expanding into the grocery market through both brick-and-mortar and online ventures, Kroger is native to the space, with dozens of brands and several store concepts spread all over the country. And as other large grocery chains have lost market share, Kroger has only grown over the past few years.
However, the company isn’t resting in second place. On the contrary, Kroger is staying on the forefront of grocery store technology trends, giving them an edge in the modern and ever-changing grocery space. With new innovations in both operations and customer service, Kroger is looking to the future as they find new ways to deliver better, fresher product with more speed and ease than ever before.
Smarter Shelf Labels
The humble shelf label is such a ubiquitous part of supermarkets, most probably don’t even give them a second thought. These simple paper tags get the job done, providing pricing, weight, UPCs, and other useful information to associates and shoppers alike. But Kroger has been rolling out a pilot program to upgrade the shopping experience with a new, high tech solution to pricing.
Called Kroger Edge, this program replaces paper tags with digital, interactive displays which can do a lot more than simply display pricing. Resets are made easier through automatic updates, and since new prices and planograms can be set almost immediately the workload is reduced for operations teams and associates, freeing up resources. On the customer end, these smart tags can display nutrition and allergen information with more clarity than the current model, and can even interact with the Kroger smartphone app to guide customers to items on their shopping list. Kroger Edge has the potential to completely change the grocery experience, top to bottom, for the better.
Self-checkout was one of the first developments in grocery store technology trends to see widespread adoption and Kroger is no exception. With self-checkout has been a big hit with consumers, competitors in the grocery space are looking into new POS concepts that do away with cashiers and check stands entirely, streamlining the process of checking out by leveraging mobile apps and putting more power into the hands of consumers.
For Kroger, that concept is Scan, Bag, Go. Customers are equipped with easy-to-use handheld scanners or smartphone apps, and after scanning their Kroger Plus card they scan each item as it goes in the cart or bag. Then it’s just a quick stop at a self-checkout stand to pay, and the customer is on their way, making shopping quicker and easier than ever before. Another major advantage of this innovation is that it lives alongside existing POS solutions, allowing existing stores to make a seamless transition into more customer-driven payment models while still maintaining their current systems.
Shorter Lines Through Machine Learning
Of course, as anyone who’s gone grocery shopping recently can tell you, some people still prefer the interpersonal experience and direct customer service of the more traditional checkout lane. However, what nobody enjoys is waiting in an endlessly snaking line with a full cart.
Enter Kroger’s QueVision, a high-tech solution to an age-old problem. QueVision uses infrared cameras and machine learning to identify line lengths, track open registers, optimize traffic, and advise when check stands will need to be opened not only at the moment, but in the coming hours. It’s also proven a powerful tool that can drive better operations: with the data gathered through QueVision, Kroger was able to identify when customers were buying fewer items at higher rates, leading to the installation of more express lanes in stores across the country. It’s a great example of how machine learning, such as CB4’s proprietary offerings, can create better retail experiences.
Freshness and the Internet of Things
One of the most important items to grocery customers is freshness. The quality of produce, meats, and other perishable foods is tied intimately to how fresh they are, and Kroger has long prided themselves on delivering fresh, high quality produce.
Now, with FAST Alerts (Food At Safe Temperature) Kroger is taking that commitment to the next level. Utilizing networked temperature sensors and analytics, this system constantly monitors cases and displays to ensure that food is always at the safest possible temperature, freeing up associates for other tasks and delivering a better product to the customer.
With rapidly expanding investment in better tech, Kroger is building the supermarket of the future. By staying abreast and ahead of grocery store technology trends, it’s no wonder they’ve stayed near the top of the pack in their native sector.