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Displaying the future

High-tech solutions are hitting the grocery store. And we're not talking about self-serve checkouts

It’s not just phones and cars loaded with cool technologies these days. From tunnel checkout scanners to mobile payment apps, stores are getting pretty high tech, too. After all, technology can create a more convenient and enjoyable shopping experience, make the store and staff more efficient and help you collect valuable data.

So, what’s next for in-store tech? I’ve looked around and found five solutions that may end up in your store in the not-too-distant future.

LCD COOLER DISPLAYS

Innovative solutions are hitting the market to make the most of display space. Since coolers account for a significant share of in-store space, one solution that stands out is the ThruVu from MRI, based in Alpharetta, Ga.

The cooler’s entire front door is replaced with a transparent digital LCD display that allows for clear viewing of products through the door, while also displaying HD video content. So far, the company has placed 1,000 of the coolers for Anheuser-Busch’s Bud and Bud Light in U.S. convenience stores, sports stadiums and liquor stores.

A growing number of retailers are adding doors to chillers to save costs and to broaden the range of products that can sit behind them, including dairy and meats. In the future, LCD doors could be used to promote creative meal solutions and cooking demos.

DIGITAL SHELVES

Many retailers struggle for creative ways to draw shopper interest to the centre store. A solution may be New Cloverleaf’s digital shelf. The New York–based company has developed a camera-equipped, LED colour video display shelf edge system that can display product information, prices and promotional content. The content can change based on how close a customer is to the fixture. Plus, the system has a rear-facing camera to track stock levels, enabling alerts to be sent to retailers and suppliers when stock levels are low.

INTERACTIVE SCREENS

Digital displays have moved beyond menu boards and in-store TV networks to touchscreen displays. New York’s Perch provides an excellent example: Shoppers can interact with products through a projection system that allows them to learn more about the items they touch. This is particularly useful in added-value or complex categories, where additional product information may be needed to make the sale.

SHOPPER TRACKING

Online retailers have long been able to collect reams of data on how their customers shop. New technology is letting stores do the same by anonymously tracking their movements via Wi-Fi, video cameras and sensors.

For example, French chain Carrefour has installed a Philips-connected lighting system at a hypermarket in Lille, France. LED fixtures send a unique code that can be detected by a smartphone camera, enabling location detection. Once located, a user can receive relevant information, while the retailer can better understand where shoppers spend their time.

IN-STORE LOCKERS

Apex in Ohio has developed a locker for the storage and management of in-store handheld devices, such as scanners and data terminals. Employees use PIN codes and ID badges to check-out and check-in devices. The result: better inventory control and in-store accountability.

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