News   Jun 14, 2024
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News   Jun 14, 2024
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Innovation/Automation in Retail

A grocer in Western Canada has made a couple of concept tweaks that I think merit being described as innovative.

One is slightly, but not overly technical. The rest are merely thoughtful concepts.

This is an article on Fresson Brothers new store.


The first thing I'll single out is that they created a 'room' (just off the produce area, no doors) that they are calling the 'Root Cellar'.

It's low-light, and has different environmental controls from the rest of the produce area, which will help lengthen the shelf life of products like onions/garlic/potatoes etc.

Smart move to reduce waste.

Here's a pic from Canadian Grocer:

1616072782196.png

Source: https://www.canadiangrocer.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/store_Freson_rr3057-0054_FLT.jpg

A second move was to create a small display of fresh fruit, which you can grab a piece of for your kid, with a donation of any coin. 100% of proceeds to charity.

1616072860470.png

From: https://www.retail-insider.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/20210306_184250-540x1200.jpg.webp

The beauty here is that it costs next to nothing, it encourages healthy eating; and it can actually reduce wastage, as much fruit, especially bananas tend to sell better when they are a bit under-ripe, because consumers recognize they'll be good for a few days at home that way.

So here, you can take the fully ripe fruit that might not sell, but is in excellent condition, have a kid eat something healthy, and collect a modest sum for charity all in one move.

They also have a an in-house smoking department (for smoking meats)

1616073034158.png

Source:

From the Retail Insider Article: all of the Alberta beef and pork products including bacon, sausage rings, jerky, and pepperoni, all of which is smoked in store with real hardwood.

This is again a win-win, because the in-house smoking is a great customer service/foody move, but can also serve to extend shelf-life.

There's few other interesting choices as well, noted in the article, particularly around the ready-eat/in-store resto services.
 
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Sobeys has decided it likes the 'vertical farm' concept of growing fresh herbs, microgreens and lettuces in store. Its been testing the concept since early last year; and has now approved a full national rollout.


From Retail-Insider:

1620039895259.png



Excerpt on the level of sophistication:

Each unit that you’ll see in the stores is a farm unto itself. The plants grow right in that module and they control all of the nutrients, the amount of water, the amount of food our plants get, and the amount of light that they get from a central farming platform.

“Just before COVID hit, I had the opportunity to go and see their office. And it’s really very special. On a screen you can see every farm that they have around the world. They know exactly the condition of that plant and what it needs and if there’s a problem they can quality control. It’s all managed through the cloud and each one of the farmers has a tablet and information is passed on to the units and the farmers through their central platform.”
 
Sobeys has decided it likes the 'vertical farm' concept of growing fresh herbs, microgreens and lettuces in store. Its been testing the concept since early last year; and has now approved a full national rollout.


From Retail-Insider:

View attachment 316918


Excerpt on the level of sophistication:

Each unit that you’ll see in the stores is a farm unto itself. The plants grow right in that module and they control all of the nutrients, the amount of water, the amount of food our plants get, and the amount of light that they get from a central farming platform.

“Just before COVID hit, I had the opportunity to go and see their office. And it’s really very special. On a screen you can see every farm that they have around the world. They know exactly the condition of that plant and what it needs and if there’s a problem they can quality control. It’s all managed through the cloud and each one of the farmers has a tablet and information is passed on to the units and the farmers through their central platform.”
There's one at the 125 The Queensway store, if anyone wants to check out the produce.

42
 
Instore grown produce continues to expand........with McEwan set to roll it out to its stores.


I think this may actually be present in some larger restos in the near future; a 250-seater can churn a lot product.
 
A bit more from Retail-insider on the Vertical-Farm in-store concept for grocery, here: https://retail-insider.com/retail-i...s-the-rise-of-the-growcer-sylvain-charlebois/

Most a re-hash things that were made public previously; but this was new:

1626159620585.png


From later in the piece...

Grabbing a living plant, or produce off a living plant is certainly real and increasingly valuable for Canadians longing for local and for freshness.

So........sounds like pick-your-own tomatoes/chillies may be tested in stores in the next few months.

****


Mushrooms, the other new product will be interesting in terms of how they are typically grown and harvested and how that will translate to retail.
 
Vertical Farming is being massively ramped up in Canada.

Sobeys is partnering with the same company that supplies its in-store grown herbs and micro-greens to grow vastly more and more varied produce with non-store vertical farms.


From the article:

1627381481884.png

The nearest facility to us will be in Hamilton, which will supply the GGH market.
 
No store is pushing self-checkouts more than Shoppers' Drug Mart. Give yourself at least five additional minutes of your in-store experience if you don't feel like bagging your own groceries.

A friend of mine remarked, on why he hates self-checkouts: "I worked my ass off for a job that doesn't require bagging groceries, only to now have to do it again."
 
But he pumps his own gas and uses an ATM, I'll bet.
No store is pushing self-checkouts more than Shoppers' Drug Mart. Give yourself at least five additional minutes of your in-store experience if you don't feel like bagging your own groceries.

A friend of mine remarked, on why he hates self-checkouts: "I worked my ass off for a job that doesn't require bagging groceries, only to now have to do it again."

Funnily, to me, I typically prefer self-checkouts, as I find them faster.

The exception to that would be if I have a large volume of produce for which there are codes for the skus, then it can take a bit to look them up, if they are among those I don't remember.

I actually get irritated when the self-checkouts are closed. They do that the No Frills on Coxwell sometimes, leaving them closed til 11am on a Saturday because they don't have anyone scheduled to oversee them.

I couldn't really get over that; that I had to wait in line, because they were too understaffed to allow self-serve......... LOL
 
No store is pushing self-checkouts more than Shoppers' Drug Mart. Give yourself at least five additional minutes of your in-store experience if you don't feel like bagging your own groceries.

A friend of mine remarked, on why he hates self-checkouts: "I worked my ass off for a job that doesn't require bagging groceries, only to now have to do it again."
I don't think it should be mandatory, but I frankly far prefer self-checkouts. I have no patience for being stuck behind someone in line who needs to pick the perfect scratch ticket from the tray. Unless you have a big shop, self-checkout is usually faster. SDM you never have big shops--it is a convenience store.
 
I personally prefer self-checkouts as well. With the rise of e-commerce stores giving you the convenience of clicking and shipping with a few simple clicks and how easy it is to have one, there is no doubt that self-checkouts will rise.

(1) Frees you time
(2) Quicker than falling in line.
(3) No more small talks with the cashier LOL
 
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I personally prefer self-checkouts as well. With the rise of e-commerce stores giving you the convenience of clicking and shipping with a few simple clicks and how easy it is to have one, there is no doubt that self-checkouts will rise.

(1) Frees you time
(2) Quicker than falling in line.
(3) No more small talks with the cashier LOL
Exactly. There is almost always at least one free self-checkout at the Manulife Centre grocery store, so I don't have to line up, endure some cashier's intrusive questions or inane chatter, or risk a fight with other patrons (like the one a friend witnessed yesterday - people have short tempers these days).

But I do shop almost every day for just me and my husband. If had a huge cart filled with stuff, I would to go a regular checkout.
 
I find people are painfully slow at self service checkouts. Sometimes it's faster just to go to a cashier. Last year at Metro, every self serve machine had to be wiped down after every use. The lady working there, took her sweet time slowly cleaning the machines. You go to machine that hasn't been cleaned, she would scream at you.
 

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