Published on July 1st, 2019 | by Emergent Enterprise


Top Retailers Battle it Out With IoT in the Grocery World

Emergent Insight:
On the surface, grocery delivery seems like a great, profitable idea. But as Frank Landman at readwrite.com points out it has been a tough go for online grocery retailers. One problem, as Landman says, is that grocery delivery doesn’t solve a problem for many consumers. When a strategy doesn’t solve a problem then you have to convince consumers they have a need that they haven’t realized. That’s a more difficult sell. But who knew we all wanted iPods in our pockets? Grocery retailers will need to more clearly identify their target audience, improve the user experience and take advantage of technologies like IoT to start seeing the fruits of their labor.

Photo by Peter Bond on Unsplash

Original Article:

In the last decade, increasing demand for convenience launched several grocery delivery services, including AmazonFresh, Postmates, and Instacart. Also known as online grocery, some retailers offer grocery delivery and pickup services to customers who don’t have time to shop. Some grocery delivery services can create shopping lists automatically, making grocery shopping even more natural.

Although online grocery shopping seems convenient, it’s not a fully developed model.

Grocery delivery services need IoT tech to work

The grocery delivery model is gaining popularity but hasn’t been delivering on its promises. The systems are flawed, and customers aren’t happy. Retailers are now turning to technology to save their online grocery services.

For example, Kroger is using autonomous vehicles from Silicon Valley-based startup Nuro to deliver groceries to make deliveries faster and cheaper. The company was considering drones, but decided cars would be more effective. If other grocery delivery services want to be successful, they’ll need to follow Kroger sooner than later.

Online grocery is struggling

Despite more retailers (and consumers) adopting grocery delivery each year, grocery delivery isn’t a profitable business model. Although grocery is an $800 billion business, it’s low-margin. Grocery stores are already barely profitable. Delivering groceries only increases the cost of doing business. It’s expensive to buy and maintain delivery vehicles, pay drivers, and keep the food cold and fresh. To make it work, retailers have to pass on the cost to the consumer. Most retailers charge a small delivery fee per order, but Amazon charges much more. For example, in 2014, it cost $299 per year to subscribe to AmazonFresh.

Every convenience comes at a price, and many are willing to pay. However, the conveniences promised by online grocery aren’t being fulfilled. Even water delivery was canceled by Instacart/Costco this week. Thanks to missing items, damaged produce, and canceled orders, consumers are paying high surcharges only to be inconvenienced instead of the absolute necessity of these deliveries. Why would someone order groceries online when they don’t know if they’ll get what they ordered? If they go to the store, they’ll walk out with exactly what they need, and it won’t cost anything extra.

What’s going on?

Online grocery creates more problems than it solves

For a business model to be profitable, it must solve a problem. Online grocery shopping doesn’t necessarily solve a problem since brick-and-mortar grocery stores work for the vast majority of consumers. Those who can’t shop pay someone else to do it for them. Grocery delivery is more of a convenience than anything else. However, that convenience seems to be theoretical since customers aren’t happy.

What’s wrong with online grocery shopping? TABS Analytics CEO Kurt Jetta explained to CBS Sunday Morning that shopping for groceries online isn’t a personal experience, and many consumers need to see prices while looking at the shelves in person. It’s harder to make price comparisons online, even with a well-designed website. The convenience offered is excellent, but some people still prefer to shop for groceries in the store.

The flaws, as seen in customer complaints, defeat the purpose of ordering groceries online. Technology is the only hope to save this business model, and retailers are starting to get the picture.

IoT can solve the problems inconveniencing customers

The grocery delivery model created more problems than it solved. If retailers want to be successful with this model, they’ll need to embrace technology to solve those problems. For example, there’s no justifiable reason a customer should receive an order with items missing, and orders should rarely need to be canceled.

Grocery delivery companies need a verification process that ensures every item is not only gathered but added to their bags that are then placed in the delivery vehicle. Canceled grocery orders have a significant impact on customers who sometimes rely on delivery for everything. If a company needs to cancel or reschedule orders because they’re out of a product, they need to rework the way they order and keep items in stock. IoT can help with that as well.

IoT can improve order verification

The process of verification should include manual and electronic systems. For instance, the person gathering the groceries should electronically check off each item as it’s gathered. The quantity of bags used to collect the order should be recorded and verified when loaded into the car. The bags should be marked and scannable so they aren’t confused with anyone else’s order. When the delivery arrives, bags should be verified and scanned as they’re unloaded. If the driver unloads the wrong bag, the handheld scanning device should alert them that they’ve scanned the wrong bag.

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