In 1916, the first modern, self-service grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, was opened in Memphis by a Tennessee entrepreneur, Clarence Saunders. In the little over a century since, humanity has experienced a wave of technological innovation exponentially greater, many times over, than at any other time in human history.
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Of course, the grocery industry hasn’t remained untouched by that technology. We’ve seen innovations in food storage, shipping, online merchandising, self-checkout kiosks, and more. Despite that, the actual brick-and-mortar grocery experience has remained virtually unchanged. Grocery stores continue to order and stock popular products that customers select and pay for. That dynamic, however, may be changing, and that could mean big things for the industry, CPG marketing and brokerage agencies, and the customer.

Emerging Technology

Much of the recent innovation in retail grocery isn’t exactly predictable as much as it seems like an inevitable step once it’s been established. A good example is the Italian grocery chain, Coop, founded by MIT professor Carlo Ratti. Coop began with stocking and setup innovations. The shelves are bookstore height, encouraging shoppers to interact with each other across rows. And rather than pairing food products with other products that they’re like, they are paired with what they are. So rather than canned tomatoes sharing space with canned corn and beans, they are displayed with fresh tomatoes; the wine with the grapes.

More exceptional are the long, reflective screens positioned over the produce and sprinkled throughout the store. When shoppers lift produce or other products up to these interactive screens, motion detectors and Microsoft Kinect sensors identify the product and display information about it. A lot of information: the product, its price, nutritional information, pesticides and fertilizers used in its production, shipping details, even possible allergy risks. Beyond the educational and convenience value, for producers of natural, organic, and/or GMO-free foods, the product itself serves as a sort of sales and marketing agency, sharing its value.

Startup Grocery Stores

Due to the tight margins for grocery retailers, the phrase “startup grocery store” isn’t one that’s heard often. However, that’s how a German grocery store, KaDeTe, is being described. Founded by the producers of a niche matcha energy drink, KaDeTe is committed to accepting only or almost only small, artisanal, independent brands. The concept is being hailed as a boon for several industry-concerned populations.

Chief among those interested in this model are customers looking for something new, and eager to participate in a market research experiment. Retail and trade analysts and researchers can gain access to a real-life, real-time microcosm of customer selection, including insights into what sort of products are successful and which aren’t, and how to best market products to ensure success. This setup could also prove useful for startups and independent food producers,as they’re able to sell their products and study sales information in a functional environment.

Grocery Brokers

Both of these models and subsequent innovation, however, are undoubtedly going to appeal to and establish opportunity for grocery brokers and their clients. Having access to grocery retailers featuring a medium that can highlight the selling points of clients’ products is an excellent resource for any producers whose responsible ingredients and production are selling points. While anyone trying to break into the grocery retail space is going to have a considerable leg up if the broker they’re contracting with has access to retailers that specialize in small or emerging brands.

About Impact Group

Since their founding 1994, Impact Group has relied on leveraging precisely-analyzed, fact-based, and empirical data on both the trends within the CPG industry and customer buying patterns. This proven CPG marketing strategy has consistently and effectively guided their clients up productive and profitable growth and profit paths. Analyzing the industry-relevant economic metrics and capitalizing on them with their advanced proprietary technology has led to Impact Group’s recognition and respect as an innovative thought leader in CPG brokering.

Learn how far your brand can climb with Impact Group, at Impactgrp.com