European grocery is a competitive market. A discerning customer base with speed and efficiency at front of mind; supermarkets in France, Germany, the UK and Ireland have to keep costs down, streamline their processes and offer a shopping and checkout experience that keeps customers happy and loyal.
Online grocery shopping in Europe is well-established — ecommerce experienced growth of around 55 percent over the past year, compared with an average gain closer to 10 percent in 2019*. It’s yet another reason why retailers have to focus on delivering an exceptional in-store shopping experience, streamline their processes and watch their margins.
To tackle their challenges, European retail chains are turning to innovative supermarket tech. They’re giving their customers the option to use scan and go or scan and pay apps to shop and checkout faster. They’re adding self-service checkouts alongside conventional checkouts. And 18,800 stores across Europe were using mobile scanning by the end of 2020**.
Here we take a look at how Tiliter's supermarket vision solutions are helping European retailers meet their need for efficiency and a superior customer service.
Challenge: Streamline processes in a competitive market
The business model at some of the larger discount chains is for their employees to contribute to multiple processes in the store — such as operating the checkout, stocking the shelves and working in the bakery. With the discount supermarket space in Europe being so competitive, retailers are looking for ways to be more and more efficient, to work smarter, to save on costs and offer a great customer experience.
For these businesses, Tiliter computer vision has been the right fit. By introducing efficiencies in the checkout process that speed up product scanning, increase throughput and help to reduce queues; they can open fewer checkout lanes. This means valuable employee time can be spent in another part of the store assisting customers or filling shelves, for example.
Tiliter’s tech helps customers enjoy a faster, less frustrating shopping experience, but cashiers benefit too. They don’t need to remember or manually enter 100s of PLU codes for fresh produce because the items are identified automatically. Therefore, store staff can be quickly trained up to work on the register, even if they normally work in another part of the store.
Challenge: The need for shoppers to print barcodes for fresh produce
Many European countries legislate that fresh produce items are labelled with a barcode before they’re scanned at checkout. In response, forward-thinking supermarkets offer their customers the option to scan their item and print the barcode themselves at self-checkouts. But it’s not always a great experience for the shopper because searching through the selection menu for the right item can be frustrating and time-consuming.
Item selection is also prone to human error, with shoppers unintentionally selecting the incorrect item or choosing a cheaper item. This affects the retailer’s bottom line, adding to a broader shrinkage problem in the industry.
Retailers are using Tiliter's AI solutions to offer their shoppers a more seamless and convenient user experience. The product recognition tech accurately identifies fruit and vegetables, so there’s no need to search through menus onscreen. And the correct barcode is presented onscreen for scanning with the retailer’s scan and pay app.
For grocers wanting a one-touch barcode printing option, Tiliter computer vision speeds up the time it takes the shopper to select the item and print the barcode for their fruit and vegetables. It also speeds up the cashier’s check out process at the point-of-sale (POS) because they can also skip the search menus and just scan the barcode printed by the shopper.
Challenge: Stick to strict plastic laws
Many supermarkets have already removed the organic bags or nets for fresh produce and French retailers are no longer able to use standard plastic bags in-store. Retailers still need to cater for shoppers who want to use a bag for fresh produce, and those who don’t. And the need to scan and print a barcode for these items still stands.
Supermarkets also need to consider that European consumers make buying decisions based on sustainability and hygienic packaging. In France for example, consumers showed a 7 % increase in intent to buy a product based on whether it was sold in ‘healthy and hygienic packaging’^.
Tiliter computer vision automatically recognises loose fresh produce items without the need for barcodes or wrapping. So, it helps retailers to reduce plastic packaging for fresh produce or even get rid of plastic packaging altogether.
What the future holds for European grocers
Shrinkage cost European retailers more than €49bn in 2019^^. So along with improving efficiency and convenience for our European customers adopting our innovative AI tech, another positive outcome is the ability to reduce loss from misidentified items.
Supermarkets that are used to focusing on their supply chain or category management are finding that it’s retail tech that’s the key to streamlining their operations and staying competitive.
Ecommerce is speeding up this change, but in-store adoption of self-checkouts, process automation and an ever-increasing need for efficiency are also driving innovation. According to McKinsey’s report, however, “only about 20 percent of CEOs say that technology and IT are among their top seven priorities”^^^.