Carol Wong-Li
Carol Wong-Li is a Senior Lifestyle and Leisure Analyst at Mintel, researching and writing reports on the Canadian lifestyle and leisure industries.

Tech integrations are popping up all over foodservice, including restaurants, bars and, more recently, grocery stores. Technological advancements are starting to make an impact on the grocery sector, with more to come in the future. Changes are already being seen with the integration of scan-and-go technology in Walmart and the opening of Amazon Go.

More self-checkouts and scan-and-go technology

While self-checkout stations are not a new innovation, having been introduced in the US in 1992, re-newed investment in these units is a trend retailers are embarking on.  In April 2018, Montreal-based grocer retailer, Metro, had self-checkout terminals in 24 stores across Ontario and announced its intention to add self-checkout options at six stores in its discount banner, Food Basics.

The presence of scan-and-go technology is also likely to see an increase across grocery retailers across Canada. Currently, Walmart Canada is testing its scan-and-go technology where shoppers scan the barcode of their items using a portable scanner available in the store. This technology was first introduced in Canada in October 2017 to 20 stores. The company had tested the same capability in the US in 120 locations in August 2017, but pulled the program in May 2018 due to “a low adoption rate.”

Amazon Go opens to the public

In December 2016, Amazon opened its Amazon Go stores which incorporated its ‘Just Walk Out’ technology in Seattle to its employees.  Customers with a smartphone, an Amazon account and the Amazon Go app, could simply walk into store and walk out again with their selected products, with all items automatically charged to customers’ Amazon accounts. This technology can detect when products are taken or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in your virtual cart.

As retailers in Canada invest in ways to compete against Amazon, consumers stand to benefit as the market will see a greater range of offerings that will make grocery shopping more convenient.

Canadian retailers offer added convenience to take on Amazon

As retailers in Canada invest in ways to compete against Amazon, consumers stand to benefit as the market will see a greater range of offerings that will make grocery shopping more convenient. Earlier this year, Loblaw announced a partnership with Metrolinx to offer its new PC Express service in five GO Transit stations in the Greater Toronto Area. The service will allow commuters to pre-order groceries online for pickup during their next day’s commute.

Metro announced that it would be updating its online grocery service in Quebec to include same-day pick up and delivery of orders placed before 1pm. The company is also planning to introduce the service in Ontario within the next year.

The presence of meal kits is increasing and retailers are paying attention

Meal kits, an all-in-one solution that includes all the ingredients needed with simple instructions is an offering that has a growing presence in the Canadian market. According to Mintel research on delivery services and meal kits, the number of companies offering meal kits is on the rise. As consumers today become increasingly pressed for time and key segments look to grocery retailers for time-saving offerings when it comes to preparing meals, this is likely an area where the market will see greater investment.