TÜV SÜD: How will consumers shop for food in the future?
Munich - The Internet is making its way onto consumers’ tables. Online information and shopping are also conquering the food industry, with self-checkouts, delivery services and online direct marketers all slated to become more significant in future. TÜV SÜD accompanies some of these new technical solutions by providing assessment services in the fields of online shopping and food safety. The company therefore carried out a consumer survey to analyse realistic future shopping scenarios.
As TÜV SÜD‘s current consumer survey on future grocery shopping revealed, over one-third (39 %) of consumers think that supermarkets in particular will confront them with digital innovations such as automatic scanning and payment of groceries. 32 % of consumers consider it possible that the Internet will also offer realistic marketing opportunities for butchers, farmers and other food producers. Roughly one-quarter (26%) of respondents believe that we will buy our groceries online from our computers at home in the future. Almost 20 % of the people surveyed are convinced that the Internet of Things (IoT) will make our domestic fridges smarter; this one-fifth of consumers regard self-stocking groceries and IoT-connected refrigerators as feasible scenarios of the future. However, online shopping while travelling (e.g. at train stations and airports) and online services by local neighbourhood grocery stores are each only considered realistic by just under 10 per cent of respondents.
The survey shows that many consumers are aware of the changes in grocery shopping and are already using the new opportunities today. However, technical innovations benefit not only them but all other consumers too, given that digital data exchange has been part of food production, processing and logistics for some time now.
Some of the modern technical possibilities are already available today. Food packaging, for example, uses codes to store data on origin, production and delivery. Via smartphone, fish packaging can provide retailers and consumers with information about the origin of the fish and whether the cold chain has been broken during transport. Chips on fruit crates deliver reliable information such as the name of the fruit producer as well as details on transport, freshness and origin for retailers. Smart shelves in supermarkets automatically request restocking or indicate which food products need to be cleared out - for example, because the best-before date has expired. It will be up to customers to decide whether these innovations will catch on or ultimately remain short-term or isolated gimmicks.
And even though digital innovations are sweeping the food industry from production to trade, not all consumers are actually convinced by the prospect of shopping in the world of the Internet. After all, according to TÜV SÜD’s consumer survey, 47 % of respondents expect that there will still be no changes in their shopping for groceries in the future, and consumer psychologists predict that visual, olfactory and emotional stimuli will continue to play a major role in food shopping in future.