With technology aiding in nearly every aspect of life, it is not surprising that shopping is becoming more and more convenient. Until recently, one of the biggest technologically enhanced shopping experiences was the self-checkout lane. However, that advancement now pales in comparison to other advancements that are currently taking place in the world of hi-tech grocery shopping.
Take Amazon's Go for example, which has eliminated the check-out lanes completely. In this futuristic store, customers pickup whichever items they choose and simply walk out. No, it's not a giveaway. The store uses hundreds of ceiling-mounted cameras and electronic sensors to identify each customer and track the items chosen by the customer. All purchases will be billed directly to the customer's credit card. Human interaction is only required in the case of an alcoholic beverage being purchased, in which the customer must show identification. This is Amazon's first attempt to turn the traditional bricks and mortar store into an online-like shopping experience.
On the other side of the world in Beijing, a hi-tech grocery store called 7Fresh has taken grocery shopping to another level. Bothersome tasks such as navigating shopping carts through aisles and around people are obsolete. At 7Fresh, customers can use autonomous shopping carts. The cart will follow you as you go about your shopping. It has the ability to dodge other shoppers and any objects that might be in the way. But 7Fresh didn't stop there, with large, overhead screens giving you information on items, such as a fruit's place of origin and nutritional facts. Check out is hassle-free as well, once you have completed your shopping, go to the facial recognition payment scanner and simply scan your face to complete the transaction.
Other grocery stores are adapting to the changing times and the ever-increasing threat from Amazon and other companies. American grocery giant, Kroger has teamed up with Microsoft in order to give itself an edge. The two have joined forces to build a new high-tech grocery store experience, leveraging cloud computing, digital displays, and other technology to make the shopping experience more convenient. Kroger has introduced helpful services, such as guided shopping, in which you link your shopping list to the app and the store responds by giving you information on items from your list as well as suggestions for related items.
With big-name tech companies lending a helping hand to the big name grocers, let's hope grocery prices don't reflect the cost of technology upgrades in our favorite supermarkets, although there will be only one true winner in this fevered battle to dominate the hi-tech shopping experience--the consumer.