Food retail innovation trends

From train station food lockers to food trend and taste prediction software, Retail Insight Network looks at five leading trends in food retail innovation, using insights from London Food Tech Week 2019.

1) On-demand food retail

With modern society demanding instant gratification, consumer expectations continue to grow with many wanting to purchase items quickly and conveniently without any disruptions to daily life. One food retail innovation within the on-demand food retail sector which will continue to grow in popularity is food lockers or pods.

Self-service solutions company Keuken builds and sells food pods for train stations, takeaway restaurants, supermarkets, highway services, offices, airports, and meal-kit and food delivery companies. The company also creates cloud-based software for retailers and provides training for staff on how to manage the pods.

Driverless grocery stores, such as Robomart, are also predicted to grow, for on-demand food retail, following the interest in autonomous grocery delivery services.

2) In-store experiences

Although online food retail growth shows no sign of slowing, the world of brick-and-mortar continues to be the foundation of the retail sector. And due to many physical store chains suffering, retailers are beginning to build their physical retail spaces into technology-focused experiences.

One food retail innovation set to transform grocery is BreadBot. Specifically designed for grocery stores, BreadBot is an automated bread maker that can produce up to ten loaves an hour. The bot is transparent, allowing customers to see how their bread is made. It features an auto-start and stop function, allowing for bread making to be scheduled up to three hours before store opening. It is self-cleaning, only requiring a surface wipe down by employees, and communicates help messages for employees to handle without distraction.

Another company changing in-store food experiences is Karma. The Swedish company provides a solution for physical food outlets, such as restaurants, cafes, bakeries and supermarkets, to sell surplus food to consumers, for half the price, via an app. Once purchased, customers are required to pick up their food in-store, under the requested time-frame given by the retailer. Too Good To Go offers a similar service in the UK.

Other companies are offering immersive technology-focused in-store retail experiences. These include CoolHobo, which supplies augmented reality and virtual reality (VR), Sensei and Qudini, which offer online booking and queuing, Orient, which provides in-store GPS, Looxid Labs, which develops VR-powered emotion recognition, eye movement and brain analysis, and Pavegen, which makes smart city technology that creates high consumer engagement by converting footsteps into energy, data and rewards.

3) Efficiency and control

Food waste is another growing concern for retail. Many grocery retailers are beginning to implement techniques and partner with sustainable brands in order to help tackle the issue. Not only is food waste an environmental issue, but it is also an economic issue due to retailers losing profits over wasted produce. However, there are many technology companies working to eliminate both these issues.

Shelf Engine is an intelligent forecasting company, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to predict and manage the orders of highly perishable items. Shelf Engine states that by implementing its software, retailers can see their sales increase by minimising out-of-stocks and prevent overstocking, which leads to spoilage.

Another company helping reduce food waste and help retailers with pricing is Wasteless. The world’s first machine-learning solution with real-time tracking, Wasteless allows grocers to offer customers dynamic pricing based on a product’s expiration date. The company says this Reinforcement Learning solution allows its engine to adapt quickly to how consumers respond to dynamic pricing, ultimately allowing retailers to sell better, decrease waste and decrease out-of-stocks.

4) Data analysis and prediction

Technology solutions are driven by data, and it is increasingly necessary for food retailers to use it well to remain at the forefront of the industry. One aspect of this developing trend is the importance of helping retailers know what consumers want and helping them to shop better.

Taste prediction and food trends companySpoonshot uses food science and AI to predict consumer tastes and food trends to help retailers stay ahead, tailor personalised recommendations and manage real-time guest experiences.

 Additionally, food analysis software, such as that offered byUK-based data companyTellspec, is predicted to take the food retail sector to another level. Using cloud-based spectroscopy solutions, Tellspec delivers food safety tools across the complete food supply chain, from supplying information on how ripe a fruit is to sharing if a meat product is still safe to consume.

5) Multi-channel disruption

 To help improve customer engagement many food retailers have upped the stakes in their multi-channel disruption methods. Trends such as the subscription economy and personalised food shoppingare taking the food retail sector by storm.

Companies such as Gousto and Hello Fresh have tapped into the UK grocery subscription market, gaining traction with consumers for their convenience, waste-free nature and recipe options.

Northfork is a Swedish personalised shop-by-recipe platform for grocery retailers. The company enables grocery retailers to help customers discover new recipes, shop smarter and increase their revenue.