How the pandemic is changing the way we grocery shop

Felicity Mullens

Stepping outside of home care-free has become a thing of the leisurely past. Instead, avoiding handshakes and giving our fellow stranger a wide berth when crossing paths is instinctively something we all have been getting used to.

Essential businesses have also had to adapt to the new norm and enforce social distancing to keep our communities safe. Supermarkets, in particular, are at the forefront of ensuring shopper safety and the need to introduce beneficial technology into retail has become crucial.

New and contactless Scan and Go technology has been a buzz in the retail industry of late, and for good reason. It is designed to make the shopping experience simpler, faster and, more hygienic for customers and is an approach that may well stick around due to its convenience and increased safety for shoppers.

Since COVID-19, deployment of Scan and Go technology in supermarkets has increased significantly. Coop Denmark shared that they have seen a 100% increase in transactions and unique users processed through their self-scanning app since COVID-19 hit.

So, how does Scan and Go work?

  1. Download the respective retailers Scan and Go app onto your smartphone and link your payment.
  2. Scan your items using your phone’s camera and items will be added to your virtual checkout.
  3. Pay in-app or at the designated Scan and Go checkout and walk out of the store.

Scan and Go technology means customers can avoid long queues and make their shopping experience faster and frictionless. Additionally, it reduces interactions with supermarket employees, self-serve checkouts to a minimum and products themselves as items can be bagged directly. Many retailers have already successfully experimented with Scan and Go technology for years making it feasible for them to deploy it rapidly on a wide scale.

The only question that remains is:

How can Scan and Go users checkout non-barcoded items (e.g. fresh produce) themselves?

The answer is The Tiliter AI Scale.

We’ll let this video explain how Tiliter's computer vision tech works.

The Tiliter AI Scale uses AI (artificial intelligence) to automatically identify objects without barcodes. The screen presents a barcode for Scan&Go mobile applications to scan when items. The barcode encodes the items product number, weight and quantity and in most cases removes the need for touching the screen.

Other products like mixed nuts, dried fruit, candy and, bakery items in bags can also be identified easily, removing opportunities for customers to interact with a cashier or self-service checkout. The system can even identify the difference between organic and non-organic items.

Computer vision and machine learning at the self-service checkout (SCO) deliver benefits to public health. We found that, on average, shoppers using the conventional SCO needed 54s and 16 touches, whereas shoppers using the SCO equipped with Tiliter computer vision needed 31s and 6 touches. Shoppers using Tiliter systems needed 21.6s (42% less time) and 10 touches (63 fewer touches) to check out their items.

Supermarket giant Woolworths, in Australia, has successfully deployed the Tiliter AI Scale in over 35 stores and counting.

Professor Gary Mortimer, consumer behaviour expert at Queensland's University of Technology, noted the great timing of the scan and go technology in Woolworths - when social distancing and contactless payments are paramount.

"Consumers are really conscious of coming into contact with people, even touching screens," he said.

Long before the pandemic, customers have been open to new ways of buying groceries by downloading apps and trialling new in-store technologies. Perhaps the increased adoption of technologies like Scan and Go will shake up the habits of customers enough to lead to a meaningful shift into a new age of walk-in-and-out, contactless supermarkets.

Want to know more about how innovative tech can transform the way your customers shop? Let’s talk. Reach us here.

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Felicity is Tiliter’s Marketing Specialist. She has a background in Media and digital Marketing and is a self-confessed lover of all things retail.

Felicity Mullens

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