Millennials can't wait for smart tech to enter grocery stores and supermarkets

07 August 2018 5 min. read

As the largest supermarket names in the UK look to battle the loss of market share to discount competitors, they would do well to take stock of a new report, which suggests shoppers of grocery stores are waiting for new technology to enter the supermarket space. This is especially true of Millennials, who are hungry for the introduction of LIDAR assistance (sensors that monitor movement), smart shelf labels and intelligent push notifications to be provided.

A report from study by Hitachi Consulting, has compiled the opinions of 2,000 British consumers from across the UK, has identified Millennials as the group that are radically changing the way that grocery shopping will be in the years to come. Seven out of 10 of the generation demanded more in-store technology, while over two-thirds (69%) of respondents aged 24-35 claimed they would be more likely to shop with a retailer that was enhancing the shopping experience with innovative technology.

As technology and user generated content on the internet have provided digital savvy shoppers with the means to discern between retailers for deals, quality and consumer experience, brand loyalty has largely become a thing of the past. Millennials have proved over the last 10 years to be the generation most likely to change its shopping habits, with almost three-quarters, or 72% of the generation stating their routine differs to a decade ago.

If a store offers smart technology, would this make you more or less likely to shop there regularly?

This stands in stark contrasts with previous generations, where the likelihood of changing shopping habits because of technology is seen to fall as age increases. Fewer than 1 in 10 baby boomers would shop elsewhere to benefit from technology and only 6% of those of retirement age (65+). On top of this, these age groups have changed the least in the last decade (36% for baby boomers and 33% for shoppers aged 65 and older).

Light Detection And Ranging of Laser Imaging Detection And Ranging (LIDAR) is something that Millennials broadly want to see. 46% of those polled between the ages of 25 and 34 said would be happy to be monitored by LIDAR stores in order to provide prompts when they forget something, if they uploaded a recipe to a supermarket’s app and did not pick up tuna for a tuna pasta bake, for instance. A further 42% said that they would also be comfortable with LIDAR being used in a surveillance capacity, monitoring people when in store to prosecute them should they shoplift, something which retailers claim would help keep prices down.

Millennials would also be interested in the store sending a personalised message if they missed a cheaper item or item on offer, helping to improve the store layout by seeing where queues or bottlenecks form in-store,  and receiving discounts for helping to trial a new technology such as LIDAR. Just 9% would be unhappy to be monitored in stores for any of these reasons, something which is remarkably trusting of consumers amid a string of data abuses and privacy infringements which have been perpetrated by corporate entities in recent years.

Many stores are considering LIDAR Would you be happy to be monitored in this way, if?

Many stores are also eyeing the use of electronic shelf labels. The most popular aspects of smart shelf technology among Millennials are promotions on related items, at 43%, and recipe ideas featuring items consumers encounter, at 46%. Embedded Bluetooth technology, which would allow the shelf label to provide shoppers with a checklist of other items you need for specific recipes, was backed by 35%. Embedded voice search technology was enthused about by a further 40%, with the technology promising to allow a shelf label to give consumers directions to the next item on their shopping list.

Hitachi’s study also covered the likelihood of Britons changing where they shop, in order to benefit from technology increases in tandem with income. Only around 15% of respondents with lower income would be influenced by technology, because frankly having a nice app does little to change the fact a large portion of British consumers are restricted by wage pressures and inflation in what they can buy. Meanwhile, over two-thirds of Brits with an income of £75,000-99,000 would, as would three-quarters earning £100,000 and 9 out of 10 earning over £125,000. The average UK wage is £27,271.

Many stores are eyeing electronic shelf labels. Which of the following would you be keen to see?

Meanwhile, Londoners are most open to technological offerings in stores. If a store offered innovations like LIDAR assistance (sensors that monitor movements) or smart shelf labels, 66% of respondents in London told Hitachi that they would appreciate it, compared to the overall average of the UK, of 31%. Many stores – specifically supermarkets – are understandably weighing up such innovations, to understand how consumers interact with products and move around the store.

Hitachi Consulting’s retail specialist, Pierson Broome said, “The research is clear: retail technology, such as digital signage and real-time inventory availability systems, will directly affect where consumers will shop in future. We’re seeing more retailers experiment with innovative technology and the ones who best capture its ability to enhance the customer experience will be most likely to satisfy the growing demand from younger generations. Retailers must seize the opportunity technology offers to gain their custom.”