How Digital Economics Is Shaping the Supermarket of the Future

The proliferation of mobile technology, the Internet of Things (IoT), and Big Data have had a transformative effect throughout the retail industry. Indeed, retail grocery in the past few years has been defined by these and many other digital disruptions.

In today’s digital world, customers are no longer required to peruse aisle upon aisle of product. Restocking the cupboards or getting ingredients for dinner can be done with a quick tap of the mouse or swipe at the phone screen.

The shift to online food shopping is affecting every facet of retail grocery. Food service companies, food distributors, beverage suppliers, and wholesalers must adapt to the changing consumer purchasing behavior to thrive in this new digital economy.

The future of grocery lies in enhancing online options, reinvigorating the in-store experience, and making the most of digital economics.

What is digital economics?

Before divulging into the supermarket of the future, it’s important to understand digital economics. Digital economy was first mentioned in Don Tapscott’s 1995 book, “The Digital Economy: Promise and Peril in the Age of Networked Intelligence.”

Tapscott’s book described how digital technology and the Internet would impact individuals, society, and businesses. To Tapscott, the nature of business would be fully transformed thanks to networked intelligence, interactive digital media, and the new media industry.

Since then, digital economics has proliferated in all aspects of the economic landscape. The global economy is being re-imagined through the emergence of the latest technologies including big data, Blockchain, and IoT.

The future of retail grocery

While supermarkets are not known to be innovative, smart retail grocers are embracing the transformative changes that the digital economy brings. As shoppers are becoming more tech-savvy, retail grocers are looking to other retail settings to enhance the shopping experience.

Many in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry are blurring the lines between the offline and online experience. By leveraging technology to redefine the shopping experience, many in retail grocery are adapting to meet consumer purchasing behavior and evolving desires.

The maturation of digital natives (Millennials and Generation Z) is also driving the growth of digital retailing options.

At the same time, the ability to order food online does not deter from the allure of the in-store experience. Physical stores are creating a more exciting and compelling shopping experience by becoming more closely synced with their online counterparts.

The in-store experience is also putting more of an emphasis on visual appeal, faster checkout processes, and a personalized shopping experience as defined by a consumer’s purchasing history.

The supermarket of the future

Success in the new digital economy is heavily dependent on a retailer’s ability to take a seamless approach to satisfying shoppers. The connected commerce era requires the CPG industry to intersect both the physical and virtual.

“Click-and-collect” services, the home-delivery model, and the use of big data to determine up-to-date inventory and real-time sales statistics are just some ways supermarkets can be well-suited for the connected commerce era.

More and more retailers are adopting digital technology in-store to provide consumers with convenience options. Such digital tools are empowering time-starved customers to shop in an easier and more efficient manner.

Digital technology that is increasing the willingness of shoppers to shop in-store while staying connected online includes:

  • Interactive product information (recipe inspiration, readily available nutritional information, etc.)
  • Online automatic subscriptions
  • In-store digital enablement options (mobile coupons, shopping apps, etc.)
  • Pickup services (placing orders ahead of time and picking the orders up at the consumer’s convenience)
  • Self-service checkouts
  • Hand-held store scanner

Further, the use of such tech helps improve the end user experience.

Digital technology addresses the bottleneck issue that prevails in a supermarket’s checkout. And thanks to products being individually monitored, thefts are discouraged, reducing costs associated with such behavior.

The future of Retail 4.0

The digitization of retail requires many supermarkets to transition from a multichannel approach to an omnichannel one. Taking the step towards full integration of digital means more than leveraging new digital technology.

An overall digital strategy must be considered to create an impact on the digital economy.

The use of digital channels such as social media offers supermarkets new opportunities to build their brand image and increase their brand presence. These digital channels are also useful in enabling retailers to engage with their customers in real-time.

Integrating these marketing strategies in-store improves the shopping experience. An omnichannel approach to retailing in the digital age ensures supermarkets provide consumers with a homogenous experience across all channels.


Jad Asaad is the Marketing Manager at Horeca Trade LLC with more than eight years of experience in digital, online and offline marketing. He started his career in Beirut working in a creative agency and then moved to Dubai to further expand his career. He created and implemented award-winning high-impact digital and offline marketing campaigns that consistently generated revenue streams and improved performance in targeted segments.