The Connected World

Exploring the Future of Grocery Through Conversational UI

Exploring the Future of Grocery Through Conversational UI

The business of getting people fed is undergoing massive disruption. Technology is driving rapid changes in consumer expectations and behavior. Technology companies are perfectly positioned to ride this wave. How can traditional, established grocery retailers keep up?

True omni-channel is happening in grocery

Consumers are increasingly expecting an on-demand, omni-channel experience from all providers of goods and services. In a study by Harvard Business Review that surveyed 46,000 customers of a major US retailer, 73% had a shopping journey that spanned across multiple channels.

Every grocery and food providing company, from startups to Walmart to Amazon, is aiming towards providing access to their service whenever, however the consumer wants. This includes everything from marketing to shopping to fulfillment.

But omni-channel is hard; for traditional grocery retailers and for consumers

There is no question that the larger, big box players have inertia and can easily have the upper hand in this battle. They have the infrastructure and the consumer-to-brand loyalty that they’ve earned over the decades. The problem is their infrastructures and business models just aren’t set up to move with the agility that technology companies can.

Not only that, but the most loyal customers of traditional grocery stores, who tend to skew older, aren’t used to using their phones to shop for groceries and are hesitant to disruptive services such as 3rd party grocery and food delivery.

Figure illustrates key players strengths and weaknesses as they try to capture the market

People have a relationship with their grocery store

Luckily not all is lost within Big Box retailers’ crusade to survive. They have one key differentiator, which new players in the market lack – the real and present people. The relationships, the familiar faces, the human-touch, it’s an event that consumers still long for.

Take Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods. It wasn’t just the infrastructure or inventory they acquired, they also obtained their network of stores and, more importantly, the relationships that communities have with them.

So how do you seamlessly combine all of these services, places and platforms into a singular, holistic brand experience?

Be human

When navigating these new waters it’s important for grocers to retain and capitalize on empathy and personability.

The positivity of the experience of going into the grocery store and being greeted with a smile needs to be integrated into the digital and omni-channel strategy.

All major grocers have existing digital touchpoints, and some even have strong beginnings of “e-grocery” services in place.

A way to tie this together (and have it connect with the values that have always made them successful) is to have the human elements persist through to the digital experience.
The most human thing we can do is have a conversation. A relationship.

Imagine having a personal assistant who's willing to assist with everything from scheduling deliveries to making sure you don't run out of your essential items to answering any question you may have related to groceries on demand.

Meet people’s needs when and where they have them

From communication on social channels, to the shopping and browsing experience, to the check out and selection of fulfillment options to the delivery and then the follow up – have a conversation with the customer.
This isn’t hard. User Interface can make this happen.
Chat with them.

Example of how chat can be prompted by the user's specific context throughout the larger brand experience.

Smoothing over the ripples from disruption

When you can’t build a massive delivery infrastructure, you have to leverage services like Instacart and transportation networks. Maintaining the conversation with your customer through this journey will make these unfamiliar touchpoints comfortable.
A headless architecture will shield the user from the ripples.

As it exists today, with 3rd party services users are required to leave the core brand experience. By providing a brand bridge between the two services quality control of the experience can be maintained.

Where things go from here

We are just scratching the service with how intelligent conversational systems can be implemented to help connect brand experiences.

By becoming the always-available, ready to help, human element in a consumer’s pursuit to discover, shop, buy and consume groceries and food, grocers can play a much deeper role in their lives than they currently do.

Maintaining a conversation about this critical part of a human’s life will open up a wide range of possibilities with predictive and anticipatory commerce experiences, access to much richer data, and the opportunity to play a key role in the industry for the next generation.


About Handsome

Handsome is a design and innovation company.

We create beautiful experiences that drive businesses to succeed in a rapidly changing world.

We’re entrepreneurs, collaborators, inventors, thinkers, and makers. We focus on creating brands, services, and products that impact users across a holistic, technology-empowered journey.

We’re independently owned and headquartered in Austin, Texas with a team comprised of strategists, designers, and technologists.

Our client partnerships include FedEx, Keller Williams, Facebook, Home Depot, and Nickelodeon.

Our team is growing. Want to create things that make an impact?

Other Journals