Last week our CEO Marc Zirka attended a private gathering where Dr. Sylvain Charlebois (a prominent figure of Dalhousie University in Halifax, NS and a reference within the Agri-Food industry), gave a stunning presentation about the hot topics which are on the mind of the retail and food industries. Among the topics which were discussed, Dr. Charlebois covered the Smart Carts in Retail and food industry pilot project by Sobey’s. Sobey’s is one of the major players in the food retail business in Canada. ( https://corporate.sobeys.com/our-purpose/ )
This is definitely an interesting pilot which we should all observe closely, however will it be better, different, worse than Amzon Go?! Time will tell.
During the discussion, Marc raised a point that Sobey’s might see a dip in their product sales volume. This pilot might put in the hands of the consumer a real time calculator, showing the total cost of the products which are in their cart. For the cost conscious consumer, this might stop the impulsive buying habit. (I am sure that you all experienced the fact of adding to your shopping cart items that were not on your shopping list).
When the consumers are made conscious of their total spending, they might return immediately the item back to the shelf. Whereas, without the smart carts, they might reach the cashier, realize that they are overspending. They might them not even return the item (or remove it from their cart), either because they might be shy to do so, or they just succumb to their impulsive needs.
Of course, this is not yet proven to be the case, however Dr. Charlebois agreed with our CEO that this is a valid hypothesis to test.
On the other hand, Sobey’s might have now another advantage to recoup the potential loss of product sales, by having a new revenue stream from Advertising. Could this be the re-birth of proximity advertising? Either Sobey’s will be pushing their own brand products, or gaining advertising money from other brands. Could this be the way of knowing exactly what is in your cart, and then suggesting additional ingredients which will complete a certain recipe?!
The sky is the limit, however the outcome is not yet known. A great pilot is ahead and we should all keep an eye on it. Would Smart Carts help the retail and food industry?
Dr. Charlebois raised some other concerns, such as how to handle the hardware in winter? Will they keep the carts under the snow? Or will Sobey’s limit the use of the smart carts to indoor only? So what happens to the user experience after paying and leaving the premises?
Thank you Dr. Charlebois for the great insights and for keeping our minds alert.
If you want to know more about the Sobey’s project, please read this article: https://www.halifaxtoday.ca/local-news/will-sobeys-smart-carts-change-the-way-we-shop-dal-professor-weighs-in-1772959
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