On Tuesday Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci was hearing from tech startups in New York that could benefit its tech hub Woolies X. This follows news Amazon has taken some action towards grocery retailing in Australia.
This week, Banducci was exploring the expo floors of the NRF’s Big Retail Show in New York, seeking out the latest tech innovations that could be used in Woolworths’ 1,000 plus stores and strengthen its online operations as well.
Several exhibitors were showcasing technology that monitors stock levels on shelves, using software that utilises cameras and image recognition.
“If you want to upset a customer, don’t have bread,” Banducci told Fairfax Media, saying that technology that signals store managers when stock levels were down is a “fantastic” tool.
Similar technology could be applied to online orders to maintain accuracy prior to delivery, as well the supply chain in a similar capacity.
Another technology relevant to the supermarket giant includes barcode scanning technology from software form Digimarc, where a code that’s unnoticeable to the human eye is embedded into the product, enabling any part of the product to be scanned at checkout.
When it comes to the world’s most advanced grocery retail market, China has this covered. Alibaba’s Hema Xiansheng grocery stores and JD.com’s recently launched 7Fresh stores represent the upper tier when it comes to the most advanced technology-enabled grocery stores.
These supermarkets were designed to seamlessly blend online and offline grocery retail, while creating experience-rich physical stores.
Smart carts that follow you around, paying via facial recognition and having goods delivered within 30 minutes are just some of the technology smart incorporated into these stores. That couples with its experiential offerings, including on-site chefs that prepare breakfast lunch and dinner, as well as ready-made meals to take home. Authentic French bakers, high-quality seafood caught from the seas of Japan and delivered to the dinner table in just 24 hours, and having access to eggs within 12 hours of being laid are just some of the more “experiential” elements of these stores.
While China represents something for Woolworths to aspire to, its present predicament remains with Amazon.
Last month, the US e-commerce enterprise renewed its Whole Foods grocery chain’s trademark at IP Australia, in May it also registered its checkout-free store Amazon Go locally, and it has also for the past decade held an Australian trademark for its Amazon Fresh business – suggesting it’s vying for our $100 billion grocery market.