Are Smart Shelves The Tech Supermarkets Need?

Retail TouchPoints – Supermarket retailers have long been frustrated by the challenge of providing relevant information at a shopper’s point of decision — in the store aisle. Static signage and product labels share limited data, and they lack the personalization capabilities that have become so important in today’s shopper journey.

But smart shelf solutions appear to be a remedy for these woes — at least on the surface. The technology uses a combination of sensors and digital displays to provide detailed product information, marketing and cross-selling suggestions, and they also can give retailers invaluable insights into customer preferences and shopping patterns.

Smart shelves got two high-profile boosts recently: Hannaford announced a pilot of smart shelf technology at a redesigned concept store, and Kroger, which already is using its own version of the technology, revealed that it was partnering with Microsoft for pilots in two “connected” stores.

The RetailWire BrainTrust recently debated whether smart shelves offer real benefits to shoppers who are already carrying their own information devices, a.k.a. smartphones. They also discussed what retailers can do to make their smart shelves produce a measurable ROI while also maximizing their user-friendliness. Excerpts of the discussion follow:

Ken Morris, Principal, BRP, Retail Consulting Firm
For products that are complex or those that commonly call for customers to read their package labels, the smart shelf/touchscreen technology will be helpful. A good example is for medicine, which notoriously has print on packages that is too small to read. This technology won’t be needed for basic items like produce, meats, dairy and other staples like flour, sugar, etc., as consumers don’t need more details on these products. The pricing opportunity may be the biggest benefit to both customers and retailers, as individualized pricing and promotions will drive both acceptance and sales. The key will to be to focus the technology on the most relevant products and make sure it is easy and works flawlessly. Test, test and test.

Read full article: Are Smart Shelves The Tech Supermarkets Need?

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