The last year has undoubtedly been challenging for the supermarket industry, with Coronavirus-induced lockdowns and restrictions forcing the sector to quickly adapt to the ever-changing environment in order to remain afloat. As an essential service, it cannot be denied that the supermarket sector has progressed and evolved in order to become far more efficient and future-facing during these concerning times; by engaging with their local communities, they have provided a lifeline to their customers and have helped to keep the public reassured during a time of panic buying and stockpiling.
In light of this, our society has recalibrated and embraced a brand new culture of shopping. Food shopping, in particular, is providing a backbone for the economy and society, with many other retail bodies collapsing at the hands of the pandemic. Now, as we embark into a new year, food retail and shopping patterns are sure to pave the way for when other retail bodies are able to reopen.
Retail technology has had to become ubiquitous during the last six months, with leading pioneers Ubamarket coming to the fore with new partnerships announced and extended with Central England Co-op and SPAR. Standing out from the rest of the field, features pioneered by Ubamarket that are set to become the norm in 2021 include:
Ubamarket guides customers around the store to products they have saved on their personal shopping list. This allows customers to reduce their spending, while also hugely reducing their shopping time; which may be necessary in order to follow social distancing measures.
Customers can scan products on shelves as they shop and then check-out and make payments in-app, completely bypassing any queues and remaining contact-free.
The app can now approve the customer for products which would typically require an age check with no need for assistance by store managers or cashiers (subject to the customer having uploaded a valid form of ID), again helping customers to remain contact-free.
Automatic loyalty points
Ubamarket’s app offers exclusive access to deals and offers reserved for app users, and customers automatically collect loyalty points at their local stores.
Dietary and allergen sensitive shopping
Customers receive dietary and allergen alerts for every product and can shop according to dietary or allergen requirements, reducing the need to approach members of staff, and helping to stay contact-free.
Environmentally conscious shopping
In order to help customers and retailers shop more sustainably, the app provides information on which packaging can and can’t be recycled in a customer's shop, and will summarise the environmental footprint of the overall shop at the point of checkout with the Plastic Alerts feature.
Will Broome, Founder and CEO of Ubamarket, has commented on the evolution of technology in the retail arena, and the different trends we can expect to see in a future designed by Coronavirus:
“It cannot be denied that Covid has had adverse impacts on the retail sector, completely transforming the shopping experience. As we move into 2021 and this new era of shopping, it cannot be denied that technology is absolutely paramount to help us adapt, and it is important that we are able to confidently rise to the challenge.
These trends are bound to become more prevalent moving forwards, as it cannot be denied that the implementation of technology holds the key to building a future of retail that supports our new shopping habits whilst also helping retailers to safeguard themselves against future cases of irregular consumer behaviour. Retail tech offers an all-encompassing solution; in Ubamarket’s case in the form of a simple app; which can put consumers in control, doing away with the need for time-consuming queues, unhygienic checkouts, and confusion about where products are and whether they are in stock. By building lists off-site and checking stock before entering the store, retail technology can help reduce necessary queues before consumers travel to the outlet. It remains to be seen how the sector will fare beyond Coronavirus, but retail technology is sure to play a significant role.”