Hygiene and safety will be high on the consumer priority list as they venture into 2021. COVID-19 has reset consumer behavior and expectations surrounding the in-person shopping experience and the necessary steps that it takes to ensure peace of mind. Retailers took unprecedented measures to ensure the wellbeing of their shoppers throughout 2020. But what’s next?

Contactless Innovations – The more touch points that retailers can eliminate during a shopper’s journey from the front door to checkout, the better. Hands-free smart shopping trolleys are one such innovation. These smart carts follow the shopper from aisle to aisle, automatically scanning items as they are placed into the basket. When the shopper is finished, they show their face to a camera and allow the cart to take a payment from a mobile app on their phone. The technology is currently being used in China.

Digital Assistants – How many times have you asked for help locating an item at your local grocery store? Thanks to service robots, you may never need to pull a busy retail associate away from their duties for that hard-to-find ingredient. Lowe’s recently launched its LoweBot, an autonomous retail service robot that’s sole purpose is to help customers locate items throughout the store. The LoweBot also monitors inventory. Transitioning this technology into the CPG retail space could be on the horizon.

Automated Grocery Fulfillment – Retailers are positioning themselves to compete with online giants like Amazon by improving their automated fulfillment capabilities. Kroger’s partnership with Ocado to build Customer Fulfillment Centers capable of meeting the booming ecommerce demand is one such example. “Kroger has partnered with Ocado to accelerate its ability to provide customers with anything, anytime, anywhere. The CFC model – an automated warehouse facility with digital and robotic capabilities – will be used to serve customers across the region,” stated Kroger in a September 2020, press release.