Monday's Amazon Go announcement has shoppers excitedly talking about the next generation of grocery shopping.
Advances in digital technology have changed the grocery shopping experience in recent years with added conveniences and opportunities to save money.
A study by Packaged Facts shows online grocery shopping will likely hit $100 billion by 2019 as more people become familiar with the variety of options available. Meanwhile. brick-and-mortar stores continue to search for ways to bring in and keep customers, as well. And, according to Nielson, while online shopping continues to grow, shoppers are searching for more convenience during the traditional in-store experience.
"The connected commerce era has arrived," wrote Patrick Dodd, Global President Retailer Vertical of Nielson in a 2015 study.. "Consumers are no longer shopping entirely online or offline; rather, they're taking a blended approach, using whatever channel suits their best needs."
While Amazon Go may be the latest shopping innovation, there are already a number of grocery business models serving to meet busy customers' need to save time.
Digital coupons and loyalty programs
Forget buying the weekly paper to find, clip and organize coupons. Leave the big binder or accordion folder you have to dig through at home. Grocery store chains and even the major coupon providers now offer savings anyone can download with a simple click. All of the coupons can be easily organized and carried and can be redeemed automatically on checkout.
A number of grocery stores, including Wal-Mart, Kroger and Hy-Vee offer customers the opportunity shop from home and pick up your purchases. Just click the items you need to buy, schedule a time to pick them up and then drive to the store at the appointed time. Then, go to the curbside pickup, pay and someone loads the groceries into the car.
Grocery delivery/meal subscription services
For shoppers who simply want to avoid the store altogether, there are a wide range of grocery delivery or subscription services.
- Amazon Dash: Never worry about running out of items as detergent, diapers, beauty products and hundreds more. The Amazon Dash buttons can be placed where you store these items and as you run low, just click the button and confirm the purchase to replenish the item. Amazon Dash is available for Prime members only.
- Amazon Fresh: Online grocery shopping and delivery direct to your door. Whether you need fresh produce or canned goods, Amazon Fresh allows shoppers to cross off their must-have lists and have what they need. Groceries can be delivered same day or the following day.
- Meal subscription services: For people who not only want convenience in shopping, but also in meal planning, there are many meal subscription services as as Blue Apron, Plated, Hello Fresh and Purple Carrot have pre-planned meals that are then packaged fresh and shipped to customers with recipes to follow to make home-cooked meals beyond the typical fare.
Scan as you go
Stores around the country, including Sam's Warehouse and Stop and Shop, have been using scan as you go technology to avoid the long lines at the checkout counter for a while. Each shopper gets a personal price scanner to use as they select their groceries. When you are done shopping, make a quick payment and you're out the door. Wal-Mart has been testing this program of and on over the years, as well.
A number of grocery stores are connecting to Apple Wallet, Google Wallet, PayPal and other mobile wallets for customers to use as payment. Like Amazon Go, these payment options give customers the ability to leave their cash and cards at home and simply use their email address or smartphone to pay the bill.