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Augmented Retail – Real Food Innovation

- April 3, 2017

By Chris Westra

Every day, I become more and more convinced about the omnichannel advantage," Lore [ founder] said, referring to a sales strategy that combines online and in-store shopping. 

Omnichannel is a clear advantage for retail commerce to adapt to the ever-changing digital world. For the consumer, it represents a seamless experience across all spaces. Although it’s not “just” about a sales strategy. It’s about differentiating, making a difference in the food supply chain with transparency and sustainability to help people’s lives, while also re-inventing consumer value. By changing consumer behavior and the way people think about food, we think there are important building blocks for a new food reality. The new food business reality is changing, and faster than you think. Augmented Retail is fresh thinking about digital integration, sustainable business models with emerging technological innovations: Food on Demand, Food as a Service, Food as Entertainment, Food Transparency and last-mile Automated Cool Lockers. The many benefits to the consumer include convenience, food quality and personalized supply chains, while promoting sustainable values by lowering waste, CO2, and vehicle density to name a few.

The important message is one of value, simplicity and trust. “Welcome to a whole new way to grocery shop online”. Your local grocer is committed to your well-being: fresh, simple, honest and convenient. We need to build online grocery by establishing trust with high levels of direct customer engagement. Trust is the foundation to building customer loyalty with real, true and unique connections. Checking for customer input and satisfaction at every step is key. 

“The customer is now the POS – Point of Sale”, [notes Chris Petersen], “They decide when and where to shop, how to purchase, and where/how they will take delivery. The smartphone is the “customer portal” for retail. As a consequence, mobility is a critical requirement in all aspects of retail – online, shopping and mobile purchase.”

Mobility-driven consumers provide the critical control. New technologies are available to help drive the adoption of online grocery with customer satisfaction and social interaction as well as creative ways to ensure a meaningful, adventurous and fun experience. The agility of digital allows for the integration of key processes involving convenience, logistics velocity, and data across all channels, both direct and indirect.

Grocers will need to collaborate and build a new infrastructure including providing for a re-defined, more personalized in-store approach. The revival of the grocery retail store concept is about thinking different, committed to a passion for food with higher levels of information and customer engagement that caters to their journey. Consumers will also build relationships with food producers and instore “foodies” that help to drive in-store traffic as they spend more time exploring the “farmers market” while developing strong personal connections. Harvest Market in the US is a good example of this new retail concept: . The switch to a focus on local and smaller producers means re-thinking the entire supply and delivery process. Visionary Canadian companies with online grocery such as Penguin Fresh and Pick-up are leading the way. 

The depth of the new digital grocery enterprise involves innovation at its very core. Re-engineering supply chains and the critical food supply for the farm to fork concept is a large and complex effort. It’s a dedicated undertaking to establish a new ecosystem to promote food producers, local communities, healthier and real (versus fraudulent) food resulting in better and sustainable values. As Canadians, we need to start a new way of looking at all aspects of life around us – problems, constraints, enjoyments and discoveries.  We’ll create new and better ideas that result in long term improvements and real innovation for economic vitality.

The real food innovation is about asking questions, defying both social norms and established patterns of behavior, creative thinking, fundamental understanding of people’s needs, brainstorming new business and logistics models, learning to be flexible and resourceful when market testing dismantles your dreams. The need for creativity and innovation will be pushed on all of us as we continue to share a common cultural diversity, our rights for social equality and potential for economic freedoms. We believe the challenge is to create not only food innovation and authenticity, but also a better and more viable economic and social fabric. We continue to pursue the dreams of a compelling, meaningful and useful business focused on better values with digital grocery and last mile innovation to improve people’s lives.

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