Insights firm Incisiv and retail solutions provider Wynshop have revealed findings from a report titled State of the Industry: How Digital is Reshaping the Grocery Workforce.

The report surveys over 700 grocery workers in the US about their personal attitudes toward AI, robotics, and other grocery technology, as digital grocery reshapes their work experience.

Many grocers have continued to face labour shortages, with 68% rating labour availability as “difficult” or “very difficult,” while the demand for digital orders steadily increased by 7% so far this year. As a result, the US grocery workforce has reportedly experienced a 3% decrease in productivity.

In this demanding environment, technology is not just beneficial, but essential for grocers to boost efficiency and remain competitive. However, the selection and deployment of new technology needs more input from workers to ensure its adoption and effectiveness.

Grocery workers approve of tech but lack the right tools

According to the report, 87% of store associates say that new technologies can help them do their jobs better.

However, 63% of store associates experienced technology failure, and 81% say this impacted their job performance. Additionally, 69% of store associates feel that their technologies lag behind competitors.

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By GlobalData

The top reasons for poor technology, according to associates, are limited real-world testing (73%), poor connectivity/infrastructure (71%), lack of associate input (59%), and poor training (59%).

Impact of AI and robotics on grocery workforce

In grocery retail, 25-40 minutes are now said to be saved per associate per shift (four hours) due to new technologies like AI and robotics.

The workforce recognise that this technology could have a significant impact on their jobs, with 87% of store associates are worried that AI and robotics will lead to staff reduction.

The report poses that $13.8bn could be saved by the grocery industry by leveraging AI to improve store operations and keep the workforce happy.

Growing generational tech gap among grocery workforce

Younger workers highlighted the need for more intuitive and advanced solutions when surveyed, as 74% of Gen Z store associates are dissatisfied with their store technologies.

In contrast, Gen X and Boomer store associates are more forgiving: the majority (53% and 56%, respectively) say they are satisfied with their store technologies.

Incisiv chief insights officer Gaurav Pant comments: “It is crucial that grocers listen attentively to their associates’ insights and empower them with modern technologies and tools. This will optimise operational efficiency and enrich customer interactions.”