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What is a Smart Supermarket?

Modern solutions make way for smart supermarkets. But what are smart supermarkets, and how can they benefit consumers?

In 2019, a study found that 51% of consumers believe that if grocery stores don’t “enter the modern age”, more of them will seek other ways to buy food. Years later, it is evident. In 2022, 1.2 billion global consumers will use online grocery delivery services. This means that a modern shopping experience is a necessity right now, especially if grocery brands or retailers want to succeed. Brick-and-mortar supermarkets need modern solutions to turn into digitized or smart supermarkets.


So what is a smart supermarket? What are its benefits and what is its impact on consumers and the industry?

Defining smart supermarkets

A smart supermarket refers to retail grocery stores or supermarkets that incorporate advanced technologies and innovative solutions to enhance the shopping experience and bring the physical store into the digital world. A smart supermarket utilizes technology and digital tools such as IoT (Internet of Things) devices, mobile apps, personalization features, data analytics, and other smart solutions. All of these help optimize retail operations, improve customer satisfaction, and enhance the employee working environment.

Common features of a smart supermarket or a smart grocery store

While not all smart supermarkets can be the same in every way, they generally have common features and capabilities. One of the goals of supermarkets is to streamline and optimize various operations, so they typically incorporate several advanced technologies aimed at improving the overall shopping experience.


Here are the common features found inside a smart supermarket or smart grocery:


#1 IoT-enabled Inventory Management

IoT (Internet of Things) is one of the most common technologies in smart supermarkets. They utilize IoT sensors and devices and even RFID (radio frequency identification) technology to monitor inventory levels in real time. This enables automatic restocking, reducing out-of-stock situations, and improving shelf visibility. This also reduced the burden on employees, allowing them to work smoothly and efficiently.


#2 Mobile Apps and Digital Platforms

Most smart supermarkets also develop their own mobile applications or digital platforms. These digital tools can allow customers to create shopping lists, access personalized recommendations, view promotions, and even place orders for easy pickup or delivery. Smart supermarkets strive to be connected with their customers and prospects through the use of these mobile apps and digital platforms.


#3 Smart Shelf Labels or Electronic Shelf Labels (ESL)

A smart shelf label, or electronic shelf label (ESL), is also a common technology among smart supermarkets. These smart shelf labels are a modern alternative to traditional, paper-based labels, digitizing and streamlining retail operations.


For example, Newton ESL is an electronic shelf label solution that can help automate workflows in supermarkets. They show product prices and information on up to 7 pages and have a central label management system that allows retailers to modify content, assign and unassign labels, and update thousands of tags within minutes. Newton ESL also has multi-functional buttons and a 7-color LED indicator, both of which can be programmed to help retailers and consumers with their retail experience. NFC (near-field communication) also enables mobile payments or contactless transactions, making way for an omnichannel grocery. These are just a few of the advanced features and capabilities of the Newton ESL as a smart shelf label.


Even regular supermarkets are already implementing this kind of technology to be more modern and to keep up with the demands of modern consumers. A smart shelf label solution is an all-around, advanced solution for the improvement of a retail environment.


#4 Self-Checkout Systems

Smart supermarkets can also provide self-service checkout kiosks equipped with barcode scanners and payment terminals. These self-checkout systems allow customers to scan and pay for their items independently. As a result, this reduces wait times and enhances convenience for shoppers.


#5 Contactless Payment Options

Contactless payment options are also a popular technology among smart supermarkets or smart grocery stores. Contactless payment methods such as mobile wallets, NFC (near-field communication) cards, or QR codes can facilitate quick, secure, and hygienic transactions. This makes the shopping experience more convenient and safe for consumers, especially in a post-pandemic era.


#6 Smart Shopping Carts or Baskets

Most modern or smart supermarkets also have shopping carts or baskets with RFID tags or screens. These can provide product information, navigation assistance, and personalized promotions as customers move through the store. There are also AI-powered smart shopping carts that can improve the shopping experience and give grocery retailers a much-needed advantage.


#7 Data Analytics for Personalization

A smart supermarket also leverages customer data and analytics to enhance the shopping experience and drive profits. Data can be analyzed to offer personalized recommendations to shoppers, show promotions, and offer discounts based on purchase history, preferences, and behavior.


#8 Click-and-Collect Services or Curbside Pickup

Some modern supermarkets have also adapted click-and-collect options or curbside pickup options for customers. This is where customers can place orders online and pick them up from designated areas within the store or via drive-thru facilities at a scheduled time. This offers convenience, flexibility, and safety.


#9 Digital Signage and Interactive Displays

Much like smart shelf labels, digital signage, and interactive displays can provide product information and promotion for modern and smart supermarkets. Using digital signage and interactive displays can showcase product information, promotions and exclusive offers, recipes, cooking tips, events, and more. This enhances overall engagement and customer experience.


#10  Energy Efficiency and Sustainability

Most modern retail stores also prioritize energy efficiency and sustainability. This includes energy-efficient lighting, refrigeration systems, and sustainable retail practices such as reducing food waste, promoting eco-friendly packaging, and offering recycling programs for consumers.


#11 Grocery Robots and Robotic Assistance

Introducing grocery robots is also common in smart supermarkets. Robot assistance can be used for tasks such as inventory management, cleaning, and even customer service. With these grocery robots, the smart supermarket can improve efficiency, reduce labor costs, and enhance operational performance.


#12 Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR):

Integrating AR/VR technologies is also common for smart supermarkets, especially those that are really advanced. They can be used for interactive product displays, virtual shopping experiences, or in-store navigation guidance. VR and AR technology can provide an immersive and engaging shopping environment, allowing customers to make informed decisions and allowing retailers to develop better relationships with their customers.


These are just several examples of the technologies inside a smart supermarket or smart grocery store. With the way technology is evolving and consumer behavior is always shifting, supermarkets and grocery retailers will need to keep a close eye on these technologies and see if their operations need specific solutions or not.

Benefits of digitizing your supermarket

Digitizing a supermarket is just one of the first avenues towards creating a smart supermarket. Digitizing your supermarket offers a wide range of benefits for both the grocery retailer and the customers, allowing for a more streamlined establishment that lifts up the community. 


Some of the key advantages of digitized supermarkets include:


  • Improved customer experience: Digital tools such as mobile apps, self-checkout systems, NFC capabilities, and personalized recommendations enhance the environment and the experience. Altogether, they improve convenience, reduce waiting times, and offer a more tailored shopping experience for customers.
  • Enhanced operational efficiency: Automation of tasks can also positively impact the efficiency and productivity of supermarket employees. Automation in inventory management, checkout processes, and restocking through IoT technology and data analytics streamlines operations, reduces errors and increases productivity.
  • Better inventory management: A digitized supermarket also leads to better inventory management. Real-time tracking of inventory levels, expiration dates, and product popularity enables more accurate stock replenishment, minimizes overstocking and stockouts, and reduces food waste.
  • Increased sales and customer loyalty: Digitized supermarkets also have personalized promotions, targeted marketing campaigns, and loyalty programs driven by customer data analytics. These can help drive sales, encourage repeat purchases, and foster customer loyalty.
  • Cost savings: Digital tools and features can also lead to cost savings. This is because automation, optimization of processes, self-checkout systems, and smart shelf labels can reduce labor costs. Improved inventory management can also lead to cost savings, less food waste, and better waste management.
  • Data-driven decision-making: Access to comprehensive data insights on customer behavior, purchasing patterns, and inventory performance enables informed decision-making. This is necessary for strategic planning to drive business growth and long-term success.
  • Sustainability initiatives: Digitization facilitates sustainability efforts that help spread sustainability awareness and positive environmental impact. This includes reducing food waste through better inventory management, promoting eco-friendly practices, and offering recycling programs, aligned with environmental and social responsibility goals.
  • Adaptation to changing consumer preferences: By embracing digital transformation, supermarkets can also stay relevant in an increasingly digital world. With new technologies and solutions, they can meet the evolving needs and preferences of tech-savvy consumers.
  • Competitive advantage: Of course, implementing innovative digital solutions differentiates a supermarket from its competitors. Digitization attracts tech-oriented customers and positions the supermarket as a leader in the industry or the cornerstone of a community.
  • Scalability and flexibility: Digital systems and platforms are often scalable and adaptable. This allows supermarkets to easily expand their operations, introduce new features, and integrate with emerging technologies as needed.


A digitized or smart supermarket is an empowered one. It might be a big change at first, however, the benefits can propel the supermarket to the forefront.

Impact of smart groceries on consumers

Smart supermarkets have a significant impact on consumers. While some consumers might be slow to adapt when they see digital solutions in a supermarket, there are still those who want to use technology when they shop.


For example, 45% of Millennials have used a virtual fitting room, compared to 2% of Boomers. Forty-two percent of Gen Z shoppers have also used augmented reality while shopping, compared to Gen X shoppers (19%) and Boomers (1%). Open-minded and tech-savvy consumers will embrace these digital solutions. As a result, they have several benefits that enhance their overall shopping experience and lifestyle.


Here are some of the impacts of smart grocery stores or supermarkets on customers:


  • Convenience: Smart grocery features such as mobile apps, online ordering, and delivery services allow consumers to shop from anywhere at any time at their convenience. This kind of convenience is good for busy people and people who are always on the run.
  • Time Savings: Features like self-checkout systems and click-and-collect services save consumers time by reducing waiting times at the checkout counter and streamlining the shopping process.
  • Personalization: Smart supermarket platforms use data analytics to offer personalized recommendations, promotions, and discounts based on consumers' preferences and shopping history. This, of course, leads to a more tailored shopping experience for each shopper.
  • Improved Decision Making: Consumers now have access to product information, reviews, and nutritional details through digital platforms. This enables them to make more informed purchasing decisions, leading to healthier choices and greater satisfaction with their purchases.
  • Reduced Stress: With features like automated shopping lists, reminders, and recipe suggestions, smart groceries help consumers better organize their shopping trips, reducing stress and frustration associated with forgetting items or meal planning.
  • Cost Savings: Smart grocery platforms often offer exclusive deals, discounts, and loyalty rewards to incentivize repeat purchases. This helps consumers save money on their grocery bills over time.
  • Health and Wellness: Features like personalized nutritional recommendations, dietary tracking, and access to healthy recipes may also be offered by smart supermarkets. These promote health and wellness among consumers, encouraging them to make healthier food choices.
  • Accessibility: Smart grocery services cater to consumers with disabilities or mobility issues as well. Features such as home delivery, online ordering, and assistance devices in-store make grocery shopping more accessible to a wider range of individuals.
  • Environmental Awareness: Some smart grocery initiatives focus on sustainability. They offer eco-friendly products, reduce packaging waste, and promote recycling, which appeals to environmentally conscious consumers.
  • Tech-Savvy Lifestyle: Of course, embracing smart grocery technologies aligns with the tech-savvy lifestyle of modern consumers. This allows them to integrate grocery shopping seamlessly into their digital routines and stay connected in an increasingly connected world.

The future of smart supermarkets

The future of smart supermarkets holds tremendous potential for further innovation and transformation in the retail grocery industry. The more technological developments enter the grocery retail industry, the more supermarkets implement solutions, and the more consumer behavior changes, the more the industry enters digitization.


Some things one might expect from smart supermarkets in the future include:

  • Enhanced personalization
  • IoT devices and automation
  • Omnichannel grocery
  • AI-powered customer service
  • Expansion of robotics
  • And local community engagement


Smart supermarkets and groceries can elevate the shopping experience and move the industry. Talk to SOLUM experts today and find out how you can start your smart supermarket!

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