The Transformative Tech Your Supermarket Can’t Afford to Ignore

Some savvy supermarkets are already embracing artificial intelligence (AI) to establish difference and gain market share.

From Tesco trialing checkout-free shopping to Morrisons’ introduction of automated stock replenishment, the possibilities for the £190 billion grocery industry are endless.

With the market forecast to grow by 14.8% to £218 billion by 2023, securing your slice of the supermarket pie has never been more important.

Your store needs to be offering the right combination of stock, staff and tech to meet and exceed expectations.

Here we explore how introducing specialist software powered by machine learning can engage employees, capture customers and bolster your bottom line.

Understanding Your Competitors

The Online Competition

More and more, kitchen cupboards and fridges are being stocked up online.

Currently worth £11.4 billion, the UK market is expected to skyrocket to £17.3 billion by 2023, an increase of over 52%.

With the likes of Amazon joining the grocery delivery game, consumer choice will continue to expand and threaten growth of the traditional ‘big’ food shop.

The physical experience of visiting your store needs to compete with and often outshine the process of logging on to place a grocery order. From ensuring the correct stock levels to offering exceptional customer service, dazzling differentiation is key.

The Bricks and Mortar Competition

Forever a competitive playing field, the UK supermarket scene is undergoing major changes.

Aldi and Lidl are continuing to snap at the heels of the big four, with £7 billion less being spent annually at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons than ten years ago.

The UK’s biggest chain, Tesco, is fighting back with the launch of Jack’s, its first discount grocery stores which they claim will be the cheapest in town. Occupying mothballed units once destined to be Tesco stores, there’s already evidence that they’re winning the price war.

And the whole sector could dramatically turn on its head if the proposed £12 billion merger between Sainsbury’s and Asda goes ahead: a move which would establish a ‘duopoly’ with control over almost 60% of the market.

Power to the People

Employee expectations have never been higher. They want an inspirational workplace where they feel motivated to be loyal, productive and engaged.

Customer demands have never been fiercer. They want choice, quality and availability alongside convenience, value and service with more than just a smile.

This pressure will continue to grow and grow.

Retailers are already adapting to what millennials expect and want. Making up 13.9% of the UK population, with 13.5% working in retail and wholesale, they’re a well-established part of the workforce.

But what about Generation Z? Those born after 1995 who have literally grown up with technology in their pocket.

The global number of these tech-savvy consumers will have overtaken millennials as early as 2019. They’ll soon account for one third of the world’s population and will exert even more power over retail trends.

As both staff and customers, millennials and Gen Z are in your supermarket right now: browsing, buying, interacting, researching, advising, selling, planning.

Meeting all these needs requires insight, innovation and investment.

Adapt quickly to deliver a stand-out experience for them and you’ll be in pole position to maintain margins and market share long-term.

Harnessing Tech to Engage and Empower

The trick to going beyond surviving to thriving in this cut-throat grocery environment is to treat your employees exceptionally well.

Engage them and you’ll be empowering them.

Whatever generation your employee falls into, your aim should be to make them feel valued. You want them to take pride in creating a captivating customer experience, both at the check-out and in the aisles.

And the most effective way to do this? Give everyone in your team access to the latest cutting-edge tech that uses machine learning to provide unrivalled insights.

For example, modern mobile workforce management software can put unprecedented amounts of data in the palm of your hand. Machine learning can use this data to decide what is most important to your business, passing that crucial knowledge on to you.

It can revolutionize how you forecast and predict demand and supercharge both your employees’ morale and your customers’ shopping experience.

With streamlined processes in place, shoppers will be interacting with helpful, informed staff and you’ll be enjoying reduced overheads and admin hassles.

What Will Fresh Insights Tell You?

REPL’s ADAPT provides granular insights into how your supermarket business is operating and how you can plan, prepare and mitigate for any eventuality.

Imagine it’s three days before Christmas Eve. You know that a disruptive snowstorm is due to hit your area tomorrow evening. Will your store be half-empty? What stock will be most affected? Will staff be able to travel to work?

Powerful algorithms can incorporate information such as extreme weather, alongside events and promotions, into your software’s forecasting capabilities. AI eliminates the need for guesswork: your tech will base its decisions on solid data, not hunches or whims.

It will arm you with an in-depth analysis of every possible statistical permutation. You can then confidently carry this knowledge into your contingency planning: more staff on earlier shifts and more snow shovels at the front of the store.

Or imagine your nearest Premier League club has made it to the FA Cup final. Machine learning will draw on data from previous major sporting events to inform demand for beer and snacks. Insight that will ensure there are no disappointed customers faced with empty shelves at 2.30pm.

Ready to Get Future-Proofed?

AI allows you to move beyond old-school labor-modelling towards a bespoke WFM system. And because you can integrate it with your current solution, there’s no need for a complex and costly upgrade.

Allocate duties for maximum productivity and profits, forecast accurately based on specific scenarios and capture precise demand details for the days, months and even years ahead.

And the longer your software is in operation, the harder it will work. It’s hungry for data: the more it collects, the more powerful it becomes. As it prototypes different scenarios, you can keep the ones that work and change the ones that don’t, continually refining your labor model.

As the months pass, you’ll be saving more time, more manpower and more money.

Freed from routine tasks and placed in the right part of the store at the right time on the right job and for the right cost, your agile and reliable team will be delivering fantastic customer service.

You’ll see a tangible increase in workforce satisfaction, productivity and performance. And your customers will be singling you out as a supermarket who knows what they need and how to provide it.

Innovative supermarkets are already taking advantage of the wonders of AI. Join them or get left behind.

Want to learn more? Click here to schedule a demo with one of our ADAPT experts.