Monday, October 5, 2015

Kroger tests 'smart shelf' technology

Kroger is attempting to revolutionize the grocery shopping experience through their new technological innovation called “smart shelf.”  “Smart shelf” is a technological system that supposedly can “tell you where the nearest item is” from your grocery list.  This system allows shoppers to see exactly what they are looking for on electronic shelves that light up on the products they are looking for.
“Smart shelf” offers the average shopper three major advantages to its features: simplicity, convenience, and personalization.  This innovation will simplify how people shop in the grocery store.  Now, we have to scan through the numerous shelves in order to find the one item we are looking for.  With “smart shelf” the system will pick up which item you are looking for and the electronic price tags will light up for the specific item and the multiple brands that make that product.  It also provides convenience because since our every day lives are very active some times going to the grocery store needs to be a quick trip and you do not have the time to waste on finding everything the old fashioned way.  The electronic price tags also help with this because of the big numbers and bright colors they are implementing helps to grab shopper’s attention.  Finally, “smart shelf” assists in personalizing the shopping experience to each individual shopper, such as dietary needs like gluten free products or on-shelf reminders.  According to the article, in trying to test on-shelf advertising they displayed a reminder to purchase baby wipes near the diapers.  This caused their sales on wet wipes to increase significantly during this trial period.
Although “smart shelf” is an attainable futuristic idea in revolutionizing grocery shopping, there are some things that remain unclear with this new innovation.  Kroger has made it clear that they do not wish to discuss their ideas on expansion, they are also neglecting to discuss how this technology will actually work with customers.  I think it’s important that the customers understand how this system will be interacting with them as they travel down the various aisles to select their groceries.  One problem that can occur with this system is having multiple customers in the same aisle, how will the shoppers know if the price tags are lighting up for them especially if shoppers are looking for the same items.  Also, Kroger needs to keep in mind the age range of their customers so that “smart shelf” is customer friendly for shoppers of all ages.  This also applies to customers who may be visual or hearing impaired.

Although “smart shelf” is only in the test phase in a few Kroger locations, it will change the way people view shopping and the grocery store forever if implemented and designed properly.

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  1. I agree that the "smart shelf" is very futuristic, and poses some very interesting ideas. However, I do believe that there are more negatives than positives to this idea. As you stated, one very big problem with the "smart shelf" will be with multiple consumers shopping in the same aisle. I believe that this will cause nothing but confusion for the customers, and could lead to customers getting very angry with one another when trying to figure out “whose product is whose.” I also think that the "smart shelf" will ultimately discourage the purchasing of items that are not the name brand. It sounds like customers will search for items based upon the popularity of what they are looking for, as well as the best quality. Under these criteria, it sounds like name brand items will be highlighted most of the time. Finally, I think the introduction of the "smart shelf" could lead to confusion amongst employees at grocery stores as well. All it takes is one employee to mix up a few products on the shelves, and nobody will have any clue where the product being searched is actually located. Although grocery shopping can be annoying at times, I think the introduction of the "smart shelf" will just lead to more confusion for both the consumers and employees.

  2. Reading this article was the first time I had heard about "smart shelf." I typically find myself in a rush when grocery shopping and think that this technology could be useful, especially when in a new grocery store.
    From a marketing perspective, this technology is brilliant. It will allow Kroger to keep better track of what consumers are purchasing and also lead customers to certain brands. Target does this often. Your credit card number helps target keep track of what items you purchase most and then Target will give you coupons for those items. If Kroger is able to replicate a similar idea, Kroger will have better control over ensuring customers return while also pointing the customer in the direction of Kroger brands.


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