5 most innovative supermarket technologies around right now

Supermarket shopping can be a stressful ordeal for consumers, especially in the the midst of a global pandemic where we’ve seen complications including social distancing regulations, panic buying and supply chain chaos.

But technology is streamlining the experience more than ever before, from the opening up of Amazon Fresh stores across London to mobile apps and handheld technologies’ rapid expansion over the past 18-months.

Charged has taken a look at some of the leading tech in supermarkets right now.

5 – Sainsbury’s SmartShop

Leading UK grocer Sainsbury’s debuted its SmartShop last year aiming to take the pressure off checkout queues by enabling shoppers to bag items immediately as they scan. To pay all they have to do is take their scanner to a till point and scan a barcode before completing payment as usual without having to bag all the products at the till point.

SmartShop is available in “most” of Sainsbury’s 770 stores following a rapid roll out of the tech last year in the height of the pandemic.

Smartshop stores have a terminal of handsets which can be used as scanners to shop with. If consumers own an Apple or Android device they are able to download the app effectively turning their device into a mobile scanner.

Shoppers need Nectar authentication to use one of the handsets and are still able to earn coupons using the service.

4 – Two-way QR Codes

According to Juniper by 2022 the number of coupons redeemed by QR codes will surge to 5.3 billion. QR Codes are nothing new, however two-way QR codes, patented by ContactPigeon, give retailers a lot more versatility when collecting user behaviour data at the same time.

A two-way QR code works by returning information relevant and specific to the scanner. For example a consumer may scan the code and receive personalised product recommendations based on the last interaction they had with the brand.

This gives the shopping experience more of a personal feel for the consumer and helps strengthen consumer-brand relations.

Juniper predicts that over 1 billion mobile devices will access coupons through QR codes by next year after changes by Apple to include QR code reading functionalities to its camera application has led to a spike in usage.

3 – Amazon “Just Walk Out” technology 

Amazon recently opened its fifth Amazon Fresh store in London’s borough of Camden which utilises its flagship “just walk out” technology.

This allows shoppers to sign in via their Amazon account when entering the store, select their items then simply walk out, paying for items automatically via their accounts when they exit.

The 2500sq ft store uses “computer vision, deep learning algorithms and sensor fusion” to automatically detect any items a customer puts in their shopping basket or returns to the shelf.

The tech giant also launched the new state-of-the-art palm-scanning technology at its Amazon Fresh stores in the US, enabling customers to pay, present loyalty cards and enter locations with their hands.

The system, coined Amazon One, a new palm scanning system which uses “custom-built algorithms and hardware” to create a user’s unique palm signature which offers consumers exceptional levels of security.

Customers can sign up for Amazon One in less than a minute, and use it to gain entry to two Amazon Go stores in Seattle by hovering their hand above the device for “about a second”.


Amazon has officially opened its doors to another London-based Amazon Fresh store in Chalk Farm, Camden, amid its latest push to disrupt the UK grocery market.

2 – Tablet Kiosks

While supermarkets are under pressure to meet omnichannel needs, many are finding ways of combining offline and online experiences to bridge the gap.

Waitrose shoppers are able to learn more about the quality of its drink selection on desk mounted tablets and iPad kiosks produced by Bouncepad.

A Brazilian supermarket in São Paulo has made use of tablets installed onto shopping carts. “Recipe Carts” are run by Hellman’s and use NFC readers to demonstrate to shoppers how ingredients nearby to the trolley can be mixed to create new meals.

Hellman’s saw mayonnaise sales increase by over 70 per cent with the launch of the campaign. Tablets and iPads are useful in creating holistic experiences for shoppers and providing a more omnichannel experience.

1 – Co-op Italy’s “ultramodern” supermarket

Co-op, which is Italy’s largest grocer, has created what it calls the “Supermarket of the Future” using cutting edge cloud and mobile technology to provide shoppers with a more futuristic shopping trip.

The supermarket uses informative screens and can provide shoppers with answers to customer queries while they are browsing.

The shop’s smart screens allow for suppliers to provide promotional content in front of customers’ eyes. According to Microsoft, “This exchange of data and information opens new possibilities for retailers to gather insights on shoppers’ demographics and preferences, improve customer service and response time, and enable sales, service, and marketing professionals to be as productive as possible.”

The layout of the supermarket itself has well designed shelves, organised displays and elegant digital screens which according to Microsoft, provide “plenty of space for interactions between customers.”

The tech is also able to locate stock beneath the shop floor and through collecting data from various different sensors, they are able to optimise the replenishment of shelves and as well as produce new assortments.


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