While grocery e-commerce experienced significant growth as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, shopper behavior has largely returned to pre-pandemic levels. For many grocers, this means they no longer have access to as much consumer data as they did during the height of the pandemic, when more purchases were made online. Yet, at the same time, grocers need this data to optimize their operations and remain competitive.
However, as Raz Golan, co-founder and CEO of Shopic explains, a return to in-person shopping doesn’t mean that retailers will no longer be able to acquire customer data. With the introduction of smart cart technology, brick-and-mortar grocers can deliver a better shopping experience while also accessing valuable customer data.
How Does Smart Cart Technology Work?
Smart carts use computer vision AI to identify the products which customers place in their carts as they shop, displaying a running transaction tally, allowing people to skip the checkout line, and suggesting personalized related products along the way. While solutions like Amazon Dash Cart have independent grocers on edge, these devices are prohibitively expensive and require significant infrastructure investments as well.
Shopic is changing the conversation about smart carts by offering a clip-on device that can attach to any standard issue grocery cart. This device is mounted to the top of the cart after a shopper enters the store. At the end of their trip, the shopper can use the Shopic device to pay for their order, after which they return the device to its charging shelf.
“The goal of this system is to be as easy for grocers to implement as possible,” Golan explains. “By using a clip-on device, they don’t have to replace their existing shopping carts, and thanks to our subscription model, the grocer’s only up-front investment is in setting up the charging wall. This greatly streamlines adoption, allowing stores to begin taking advantage of this tech almost immediately.”
This system allows grocers to eliminate the need for dedicated self-checkout areas (which, notably, 67 percent of shoppers say they’ve experienced failures with). Shopic’s AI is designed to learn on the job, ensuring accuracy even as grocers introduce new products.
However, that AI system does more than just scan items for customers and help them check out. All the while, the Shopic device is meticulously tracking a wide range of metrics that help deliver valuable insights for grocers – in a manner that is privacy-compliant, of course.
Improving the Customer Experience
Quality data is key for grocers to improve the shopping experience for their customers — and for bolstering their own financial situation. “When you have clearer insight into what customers are actually buying, you can significantly improve your inventory management practices,” Golan explains.
“You can better recognize slow movers that should be allocated less shelf space, or more easily gauge when to restock a popular product. You can ensure that shoppers are going to find what they’re looking for the next time they visit your store, so you don’t miss out on the full potential business value of each trip. Plus, with personalized recommendations, you can potentially increase total transaction value by making the right recommendation at the right time.”
Knowing what to stock — and ensuring that desirable products remain in stock — is especially valuable at a time when “grocery stock availability” is cited as the leading problem experienced by brick and mortar shoppers.
Analyzing past sales data can help grocers identify when to implement sales promotions on certain items. It can even help them make changes to the store layout to better accommodate the preferences of their customers.
And since stores that use smart cart technology can get by with fewer cashier stations, they have the option to also open up additional space to provide new products or services. Then, of course, there’s the streamlined experience customers can enjoy by using a cart that essentially enables stress-free self-checkout. All of this can combine to vastly improve the customer experience, increasing loyalty and satisfaction.
Real-Time Data for Better Insights
“Each smart cart shopping visit tells a story about your grocery store,” Golan explains.
“It tells which products are the most popular, which aisles customers are actually visiting, what product categories are rising in popularity, and how much people are buying during a typical visit. All of that information can and should influence the products you stock, the promotions you run, how you design displays, and so on. When you are able to collect that data from each shopping trip, you can implement changes that have a direct impact on the customer experience and your bottom line.”
Among the advanced analytics offered through Shopic’s smart cart technology are store floor heat maps that show where customers spent most of their time during a visit, tracking of basket sizes, product category trends, and total order value and monitoring product popularity trends.
Making the data even more valuable, the checkout experience can integrate with existing technology systems the grocer has already adopted, such as POS systems and loyalty apps. Data is collected from each shopping trip, allowing a practically real-time look at customer behavior. This in turn allows grocers to make faster, more accurate decisions.
A Smarter Way to Shop
Golan is confident in Shopic’s ability to be a game-changer for regional grocers and established nationwide chains. “You don’t necessarily have to make a full-scale investment in e-commerce to modernize your shopping experience and get valuable data from your customers. Even as e-commerce grows, the majority of grocery shoppers still prefer to go in-store,” he notes.
“After all, you can’t check if fruit is ripe over the internet. As brick-and-mortar retailers compete with one another to provide frictionless, engaging customer experiences, grocers with smart cart systems can differentiate themselves from other regional competitors. And they’ll gain the data they need to better understand and provide what their customers want in the first place.”
With quality data and a focus on improving the in-store shopping experience, brick-and-mortar grocers can be better equipped to cater to their customers’ wants and needs, ensuring the loyalty needed to thrive in uncertain times.#GlobalAIandDataScience#GlobalDataScience