This year’s Groceryshop welcomed tech startups, grocery CPG, retail giants and everyone in between to Las Vegas to discuss industry trends, challenges, and opportunities to better the grocery shopping and customer experience as we know it. From personalization at scale and improved logistics & delivery systems to electronic carts and the importance of first-party customer data, the conference offered a breadth of knowledge, networking and technology demonstrations.
As the newest member to join Microblink’s marketing team and a first-time trade show attendee, it was an insightful way to kick-off my knowledge of all things grocery.
My experience was unique because I got to be both an exhibitor and one of over 4,000 attendees at this conference. Working alongside Microblink’s Commerce team at the booth was invigorating. Not only did I get to experience live demos of our receipt-scanning and product recognition solutions, but as someone new to the industry, I walked away with the understanding of a glossary’s worth of industry acronyms! (I’ll be the first to admit that “Universal Product Code” sounds cooler as “UPC,” and at times, it genuinely feels like speaking another language.)
Roaming the exhibition hall to check out other booths was a personal favorite of mine because I got to learn what different companies are working on (not to mention the dual thermal-glass bottles, personalized totes and more that I scooped up in the process!)
Outside the exhibition hall, there were non-stop keynotes, educational sessions and panel presentations. One of the sessions that I attended focused on the strategies and tactics for boosting supply chain resiliency, during which speakers unpacked how volatile consumer spending patterns, labor shortages, inflation, port congestion and more have put a strain on global supply chains. Companies are actively working to combat this by diversifying their supply chain networks, transparently collaborating (and communicating) with suppliers and customers, and of course, by leveraging cutting-edge technology.
Grocery’s tech revolution is much more than robots and autonomous checkout. It’s incredible to think about what goes into my weekly trip to the grocery store, and the countless activities that are powered by the intersection of technology and human ingenuity. After three days of invaluable conversations, sessions and booth visits, here are the top three things I learned:
Grocery technology has improved tremendously
Technology has been revolutionizing different aspects of people’s (personal and professional) lives and in turn, different sectors, for decades. After lagging when it comes to digital transformation, the grocery industry and its partners are laser-focused on using emerging technologies to enhance the customer and store experience.
Grocery has had to adapt –and quickly – to appeal to and support shoppers’ ever-changing needs, which shifted drastically during the COVID-19 pandemic. Valued at $811.5 billion this year, the U.S. grocery sector has evolved in the last few years, with online grocery shopping now accounting for almost 15% of sales in the second quarter of 2022. (This figure reached as high as 59% in 2021 during the height of the pandemic, as adults who never thought of online grocery shopping shifted their behaviors to comply with stay-at-home guidelines).
Post-pandemic, this shift has grocery retailers, brands and their partners leaning into AI, computer vision , automation, and more to keep up.
The industry is moving from data-informed to data-driven
The Mandalay Bay Convention Center was both a showroom and battlefield for what defined Groceryshop in 2022: the ability to provide grocery shoppers with products and services efficiently, easily, and wherever they are shopping. This begins with better understanding customers’ habits, preferences, and purchases whether they’re stopped in-store, online, at one retail location or across many. There was a buzz about the convention center about the tangible shift from “data-informed” (data as a nice-to-have) to “data-driven,” where accurate, complete first-party data is not only captured at scale, but is used to drive marketing and promo strategies, deliver CPG promotions, and drive market research.
Step zero to making this happen? Collect the first-party purchase data. Next step:use it.
Whether it is for product development or promotional campaigns, grocery retailers and brands (and their partners) are utilizing data to get closer to their customers, deepen brand loyalty, and drive sales.
The Power of Personalization
Evident in conversations with experts in the space, personalization is a key focus that has driven the shift towards being more data-driven. As someone new to the space, it was interesting to see different – and innovative – approaches to this, including third-party rewards apps that are building relationships with consumers on behalf of brands. By finding out exactly what people are buying, when, and where has opened the door to next-level analysis and insights.
Cutting-edge tech like AI and ML are being used to personalize and digitize the path-to-purchase, including product discovery, customer service and messaging. As someone who works for an AI company and is excited by its potential to improve user/customer experience, it’s empowering to see how this technology will be used to herald in the next era of omnichannel shopping experiences.
Whether a technology provider, traditional retailer, or brand, everyone at Groceryshop was looking for new ways to go “direct to consumer” and create a magical experience in the process.
With all that I learned, I also left with questions around how companies are choosing new technology solutions and implementing it company-wide to drive business transformation. These are questions I’ll be sure to listen out for at our next confirmed industry event: Shoptalk 2023!
In the meantime, if you would also like the superpower of instantaneously knowing what “OS HE DEO ORIG SCN 3Z” means, check out the magic that is Microblink Commerce to discover more.
By: Jemimah Wavamunno, Marketing Coordinator