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woman buying groceries from a stall

Revolutionizing grocery retail with artificial intelligence

Revolutionizing grocery retail with artificial intelligence

While there is a lot of chatter around artificial intelligence and the potential it has to transform retail, it has the capability to impact the most fundamental shopping experiences: the grocery store. Most retailers are moving towards building a better grocery store experience, with the rise of subscription meal kits and competition from pure-play grocery delivery services. With the abundance of customer data and product information available, grocers today are in a special position to apply machine learning and AI in other areas of the business as well.

The grocery industry has a heavy reliance on the movement of perishable goods and with supermarkets struggling to plan, promote and sell goods in a short period of time, it is not efficient. Furthermore, there is a lot of food wastage that happens in this industry - while some of that waste happens in consumers’ homes, a good amount is also lost in the supply chain - anywhere between the farm and the store shelf. And with the various options for when, where and how to buy groceries, grocers compete on prices that are most likely to be profitable.

While grocers are faced with these challenges, they have a fairly good idea of their customer base, who they are and what they want to buy at what price point. With the data available, there is a lot of opportunities utilizing the data in the right manner. This is where AI comes in. Using machine learning capabilities and analytics, more grocers are leaning towards adopting this technology to strengthen the relationship with customers, as well as address some of the biggest challenges they are faced with today.

Leveraging the abundance of customer data

The grocery industry was one of the first industries to collect shopper buying data through programs such as loyalty programs and in-store promotional offers. These methods helped grocers gather information about their key shopper demographic as well as brand preferences. This information is already leveraged to provide discounts and special promotions, the new technology can help enhance the relationship between the grocer and shopper even further.

AI helps grocers to provide a deeper understanding of context and intent by answering the questions behind customers' shopping decisions. It also enables the grocers to parse the customer data and automate the ability to offer targeted promotions to each customer.

Enhanced inventory management

AI can change the entire way of managing inventory. AI can help stock shelves with the right mix of products and ensure that the supply chain is aligned to avoid out of stock products using point-of-sale information and inventory visibility.

Machine learning can build on grocers' rich customer data and combine that with contextual data such as weather, climate, holidays and events - providing a more accurate forecast compared to traditional methods.

Reducing waste

With better inventory management and data analytics, AI can provide better visibility on produce and perishables. Automation can help stores dynamically re-adjust orders based on demand or automate product promotions for the items that are not performing well or selling fast, and helping stores to protect margins, and reducing the amount of food that goes into landfills.

As AI and machine learning advances, grocers should begin to position their systems for a seamless transition towards a highly automated future.


AI must integrate into the commerce platforms and connect across systems to maximize its effectiveness throughout the business. While AI is a valuable tool for customer service, the impact of it will come through its ability to reward loyalty, understand consumer behavior, ensure reduced wastage and increase revenue for the retailers.

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woman buying groceries in a store

Modernizing the grocery shopping experience with Mobile

Modernizing the grocery shopping experience with Mobile

Nearly every industry has been revolutionized with the advent of the Internet. With the technology continuing to advance and online connectivity becoming stronger and synonymous in daily life, mobile tech played a significant role in shaping this revolution. Many retailers across fashion, electronics, etc. have made mobile an integral part of their marketing strategies.

Food retailers are not far behind while going mobile. To retain the current customer base and win over new ones, grocery retailers are implementing solutions that offer unique mobile experiences that not only provide convenience but also increase brand awareness and inculcate customer loyalty.

Besides the overall rise in mobile shopping among consumers, there are many reasons for grocery retailers and other players in the food retail industry to pivot towards implementing mobile solutions for their businesses.

Providing a complete brand experience


Grocery retailers often apply the omnichannel approach while appealing to consumer groups and mobile is becoming a crucial part in this process. By providing a tech-savvy shopper an interactive and immersive customer experience, grocers increase their chances of creating a lasting effect which amplifies their brand while resonating with the user.

For instance: A retailer can leverage social media sites, image based platforms such as Instagram to interact as a brand, vocalizing brand values through the platform. Retailers such as Amazon push promotions to showcase some of their products via Instagram on the user's feed, allowing the user to browse before selecting a product of his choice and be taken to the Amazon website. 

Keeping pace with the competition

Consumers today use the mobile as a means to search for products due to the sheer convenience it provides. Realizing this, many grocery retailers started leveraging the power of mobile technology to keep pace with their competition.

Businesses who can successfully adapt to the changing shopper trends and deliver seamless shopping experiences via integrated mobile solutions would more likely be able to convert users into loyal customers.

Personalization

Digitization has drastically transformed the way people shop while widening the berth of opportunities for the grocery retailers. With mobile sites and apps, grocers can provide their customers to have personal and unique shopping experiences where every consumer is the most important element in the scenario. This would allow grocery retailers to engage with customers in a personal manner. by providing them access to products and helping them curate their shopping experience.

Crafting loyalty programs

To encourage and reward purchasing behavior of a customer while increasing their urge to stay loyal to a specific brand, grocery retailers can leverage mobile to deliver the loyalty programs to offer benefits and entice and retain customers.

Ex: Loyalty programs such as providing reward points that can be redeemed at the end of the month or special discounts on products as an exclusive members-only benefit.

Integrating mobile app with the in-store experience

Retailers can utilize mobile apps to enhance the in-store shopping experience, making it an enjoyable shopping journey for consumers. The mobile apps could entail all the information for the products that the consumer may need, before even entering the store or providing the location of the desired product without having to go through aisles and aisles.
Another great example is the use of Beacons - when a customer would walk into the store in the range of the beacon, getting activated, it would automatically and immediately send an alert to the customer of all the special offers that the store provides.

Mobile payments

With the variety of payment options available such as mobile wallets, consumers are steadily moving away from cash and credit card payments. A mobile payment system can easily be integrated into an app to help deliver a seamless grocery shopping experience. This adds a level of convenience for the consumer, as they can easily pay using the mobile instead of having to look for their wallets and picking out cards or cash.

Amazon launched Amazon Go, in an attempt disrupt the grocery industry with its new cashier-less way of shopping. A brick and mortar setup that allows users to walk in and walk out of the store without the hassle of check out. All of this is done using the customers' smartphones. The technology automatically detects when products are taken and, or returned. When a customer is done shopping, he can just leave the store. Amazon automatically charges their account for the items they’ve walked out with and sends them the receipt.

As more people depend on their mobile devices to do regular tasks, integrating mobile solutions to help retailers interact with their customers will enable them to build innovative strategies that will elevate marketing products more effectively while adding convenience to consumers. Grocery retailers while making use of mobile apps and mobile-first sites, can apply a consumer-centric approach to their offerings. This would also have an immediate effect on the way customers perceive the brand and on the potential to build customer loyalty.

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Icecream Labs is going to GroceryShop 2018!

Icecream Labs is going to GroceryShop 2018!


IceCream Labs is going to be a part of GroceryShop 2018 which will be held on October 28-31, 2018 at the Aria, Las Vegas.

Founded by the world’s largest retail conference, ShopTalk, GroceryShop is a one of a kind, three-day innovation event bringing together established and startup CPG brands, supermarkets, convenience stores, drugstores, discount stores, e-grocers, warehouse clubs grocerants and non-traditional grocery retailers. They will be joined by tech companies, real estate operators, investors, and analysts to understand the disruptive new trends, and technologies that are changing the retail industry.

Groceryshop aims to build a new community of leaders of today and emerging leaders of tomorrow in the space of digital, e-commerce, marketing, technology, merchandising, supply chain and store operations. This event will address the shared challenges and opportunities in the evolution of how consumers shop for food, beverages, health, beauty, personal care, household, and pet products through Techtalk sessions and keynote speeches. The hosted program meetings, Peer Dinners, and roundtables will give the attendees an opportunity to network with one another.

The qualifying individuals from retailers and brands will get free tickets and a $750 travel reimbursement by joining GroceryShop’s Hosted Retailers & Brands Program, facilitating eight mutually selected 15-minute meetings.

Swing by our booth at the startup row Space# S16 to see some exciting AI-based solutions that IceCream Labs can provide for grocery retailers.

supermarket with fresh produce

AI and Automation are transforming the E-Grocery experience

AI and Automation are transforming the E-Grocery experience

The concept of e-grocery is not new, with existing e-commerce businesses like Walmart To Go, Amazon Fresh and Instacart, but with Amazon acquiring Whole Foods, all the players in the grocery retail industry have realized that grocery shopping is at the brink of transformation and are changing their strategies to accommodate and incorporate online shopping into their business goals. 

The focus is on providing solutions to enhance customer engagement, optimize inventory management and upgrade logistics for accurate and speedy delivery. To address these concerns, businesses are investing in technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), big data, internet of things (IoT), cloud computing, autonomous robots, virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR).

Challenges of e-grocery inventory management

The success of an e-grocery business essentially depends on inventory management. The fundamental problem that needs to be addressed is stocking: with grocers finding the right balance between understocking and overstocking. 

Overstocking uses up costly warehouse space and locks up capital which could be otherwise made available for resources. Products decay over time and with perishables, the decay is often quicker, in some cases, by the end of the day. Every wastage affects the business, increasing the costs and making it unproductive.

While on the other hand, understocking hinders the growth of the business. No grocer wants customers abandoning their shopping carts because of the inability to supply an item. While there are options to pre-order products that are not in stock, groceries are fast moving products that customers need on a regular basis. Grocers cannot list fruits, vegetables, cereals, soaps, detergents, and personal care items as out of stock. The demand for them is instant.

Optimizing inventory is crucial for the survival of the grocery industry. It’s no surprise that e-grocers are leaning towards innovative technologies to enhance and optimize their inventory management processes.

aisle with fresh fruits

Emerging trends in e-grocery

Big Data, AI and Machine Learning

E-grocery businesses generate a significant amount of data about purchasing patterns which can be useful to predict future trends. However, this data needs to be examined and categorized to make it efficient and useful. Here’s where data analytics and machine learning come in to help grocers extract relevant insights which help them make strategic business decisions.

Businesses are leveraging AI to predict operational failures and improve warehouse management. As machine learning models get smarter, the systems get more efficient over time.

Automation and use of robots

Besides inventory maintenance, the physical movement of the inventory is another challenge for the grocers as it requires a considerable amount of human labor. Technologies like automation and robotic systems are helping businesses by taking over these manual tasks.

The robotic systems are automating operations for customer orders and are also helping businesses to build space-saving warehouses and utilize the complete area efficiently without wastage. There are rails between aisles for robots to move around, stock and fetch products. Robotics and automation go hand in hand towards reducing the size of real estate investments.

Self-Drive logistics

Another challenge that e-grocers face is delivery of the products to the customers.

Groceries differ from regular e-commerce products such as shoes, or furniture items in two ways: the quick turn around time expected by the customer and the perishable nature of grocery items. As the order volume of the e-grocery business grows, the logistics system needs to scale along with it. This, in turn, increases the delivery cost that further affects the business.

Businesses are turning towards self-drive vehicles to deliver groceries to customers and with startups like AutoX with self-drive car deliveries and Marble with a sidewalk delivery robot coming in the market. As transport technology advances, self-driving automatons can become the next big thing to look out for.

The future of e-grocery

As online grocery businesses are adopting the latest technology to solve the supply chain, inventory management, and logistics problems, even small grocers are able to leverage these technologies to scale their businesses through automation and predictive analytics.

Moving grocery online has been a major problem with the high demand for operational excellence and the low margin of the products. This is a hard sell for many businesses, but with the advancements in AI, Machine Learning, Automation, Robotics, this is changing. This can be seen from the growth of e-grocery ventures that are emerging around the world.

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