Big-box retailers (like the Krogers and Walmarts of the world) and small independent grocers are using new grocery store technology in many ways. Mainly to increase their profits, automate manual tasks, improve customer experience, and help their team work smarter.
Here's a list of the top technology, software, and innovations, modern-day grocery stores are using:
- Grocery Automation Software (GAS)
- Point of Sale (POS) Software
- Inventory Management Systems (IMS)
- eCommerce Platforms & Mobile Apps
If you're interested in seeing how technology can help your grocery store or supermarket save money, increase profits, reduce workforce waste and errors, and more, continue reading.
1. Grocery Automation Software (GAS)
Grocery automation software is a new category of software that small to mid-sized grocery stores are using to support existing employees in repurposing their labor so they can stay in front of customers.
What is grocery automation software?
Grocery automation software is technology that integrates with a grocery store’s POS system to automate manual pricing, TPR, and give analysis across your entire store.
The major benefit to GAS is how it can replace a good portion of the manual spreadsheets and workflows you and your team do each day, freeing up your time to focus on more customer-facing activities.
Here are the main features of grocery automation software:
- Eliminates potential inventory and pricing errors
- Gives you the ability to change prices easily and increase your competitiveness and/or margin
- Automates manual tasks typically done in spreadsheets
- Helps manage your temporary price reduction (TPR) program
- Report on store sales data & provide insight and education to improve daily store operations
- Helps you reduce your in-store losses and theft
GAS software has an incredible advantage over many of the other popular technologies grocery stores use. Grocery automation software puts money in your pocket from the day it's installed. How?
Because your team is probably not catching everything that’s happening in your store.
Managing TPRs, ordering products, confirming products are stocked, providing customer service, and more: Important details like out-of-stocks and the difference between your TPRs to your in-store prices can easily slip through the cracks.
GAS gives you the power of machines and automation to organize sales data, which automatically makes updates to pricing and ordering. This supports pricing coordinators and store managers with their job and helps them focus on more important tasks.
GAS software is not another piece of software that will cost you money. Instead, it acts as an investment that will make you money down the road.
Jamie, the owner of Reeds Market, uses grocery automation software, and here’s what he had to say:
“The return on my investment has been unparalleled!”
2. Point of Sale (POS) Software
Point of Sale software is used in each checkout line with large retail store chains and small mom-and-pop groceries and convenience stores.
The three main functions of a POS system:
- Enables the cashier to enter items and calculate the total cost for each customer
- Tracks inventory, pricing & customer data
- Used by employees working in different departments (e.g., produce) who need access to a wider variety of information about products that customers see at checkout
POS systems can be run by a traditional desktop computer with the software installed locally, but more often today, it is done through cloud connection from the retailer's headquarters or the POS vendor's headquarters.
Examples of POS Systems for Grocery Stores & Supermarkets
The most common POS systems for Independent grocers are listed below:
- Retail Data Systems NCR ISS45
- IBM SurePOS 700
- TRUNO POS System
- IT Retail POS System
- LOC Store Management Suite POS
Each grocery store typically uses something different. However, the most common POS system used in grocery stores is the LOC Store Management Suite.
3. Inventory Management Systems (IMS)
Inventory management system is a software used by grocery stores and retailers to manage their in-store products. When they have low inventory on the shelves or in the back of the store, they can assign someone to restock it.
Here are some of the top features of inventory management systems:
- Automatic Stock Replenishment (The automatic re-ordering of popular out-of-stock items)
- Low Inventory Alerts (Shows what items are running out)
- Stockroom Management (Shows what's on the shelves in each aisle)
- Tagging & Barcoding (Tracks individual products with the tagging of a barcode)
- Inventory Forecasting (Predicts what products need to be reordered at specific dates based on purchase history)
- Customer Analytics (Seeing per-user order history & data)
Sometimes inventory management software is combined or included with other features in POS systems, so make sure you understand the different features.
Some grocery store retailers still use spreadsheets to manage their inventory. While it's a free method of completing the job, the pros for installing modern-day inventory management technology far outweigh the cons.
4. Self-Checkout Lanes
Self-checkout lanes allow customers to self-scan and pay for their own purchases without the need of a human. The idea is this will, in the long run, save stores money and increase their sales.
Self-checkout lanes are an investment. The average price for one self-checkout is about $25,000. The cost is becoming lower as they become more popular. Some can cost, on average, as little as $16,900.
Self-Checkout Lanes have two major benefits for stores:
- They save on costs as self-checkout lanes are operated by machines, not people.
- Customers typically spend more money per transaction because of convenience and speed (upwards of 30%).
The downside is that customers have reported experiencing difficulties with the self-checkout machines. This can be incredibly annoying for shoppers.
If you're wanting to take the leap and invest in some, here are some things to consider:
- Technology: Self-checkout kiosks come in a range of different models. Some have barcodes, some don't.
- Space: Self-checkout lanes can take up to six feet of space per lane, so be sure you have enough room for them.
- Cash or credit card: those that accept cash are less likely to break and cause problems.
- Maintenance: Self-checkout machines are more expensive than self-serve registers to maintain. You'll need to budget for the fees the manufacturers or installers charge for upkeep.
Self-checkout kiosks typically prompt customers to spend more time and money, and increase checkout time by an average of 36 seconds. Customers spend anywhere from $0.30 to $12 more than those who check out with assistance.
That might not be the case for all self-service systems, but it’s worth considering!
5. eCommerce & Mobile Apps
Most small to mid-size grocery stores don't have eCommerce or mobile app capabilities. As consumers become more comfortable ordering online, there is an increase in demand for stores of all sizes to incorporate this technology.
Grocery stores that don't have eCommerce or mobile app capabilities are at an immediate disadvantage because their customers can’t shop the way they want to shop.
We've found a majority of shoppers still love to shop in-store, but if you're not considering offering customers the option to order online and pick up at the store, you're losing revenue.
All the big-box guys do it and it's a staple of success for them!
Here are the three biggest reasons why grocery stores install an eCommerce platform:
- eCommerce drives people to visit your store and vice versa
- Consumers can shop your store 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and are not limited to your store hours
- Grocery stores that have eCommerce capabilities increase their store sales by an average of 20%
While it might sound difficult to add an eCommerce option to your store, it's actually not. eCommerce platforms are designed to be simple and easy to use.
Most eCommerce platforms allow you to import product information from your point of sale system. The integration of your POS or inventory management system is the hardest part to accomplish.
If you're a grocery store owner, it's time to consider how technology can help increase sales and better serve your customers.
Big-box retailers, like Kroger, are leading the way with innovative automation systems that prove increased sales and customer satisfaction.
We know it takes time for change to happen in your store, but we encourage you to try Storewise Grocery Automation Platform for 60 Days Risk-Free.