When you think of going shopping for groceries, you likely think of going to some type of market. There are many different concepts out there, from your Safeway/Vons, to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, or even Costco and Sam’s Club. One thing is shared from one store to the next: the product display and labeling capabilities. 

Most, if not all the product displays in stores are printed on paper, with key information like price, quantity, weight, price per ounce, etc. Occasionally, you might even see a brief description or even a review of some sort to supplement the bare minimum information. In some stores, I’ve even seen QR codes displayed so that shoppers can learn more about a particular product. In stores that have larger alcohol sections—stores like Total Wine & More, Lee’s Liquor, or BevMo—which are focused on alcoholic beverages, you might find some special setups on display, with the occasional LCD screen or animated display. 

Enter the untapped world of “smart displays” for retail stores. And I don’t mean a single LED display that highlights a particular item that’s on special. Kroger EDGE is a new technology innovation that is rolling out in stores this year by Kroger (https://www.thekrogerco.com). You may not know them by the name Kroger, but they operate Smith’s and Quik Stop, with 50 combined stores in Nevada. In California, there are over 400 food/convenience stores through the state, with recognizable brands such as Ralphs, Food 4 Less, and Quik Stop. 

Kroger’s EDGE Shelving stands for “Enhanced Display for Grocery Environments,” where its digital display presents a variety of information that can change in real time. The system allows for personalized, user-centric shopper experiences. Initially, the system has been a program to aid shoppers in locating items on their pre-selected shopping lists by having shelf zones light up so they know where they are going. From the staff perspective, store employees can re-stock products on shelves more efficiently with the EDGE displays indicating locations of items.

Currently it is piloting in just a few stores, and customers must use Kroger’s proprietary devices in order to use Kroger EDGE. Eventually, the system will be operable through iOS and Android devices. By the end of 2018, Kroger plans to say farewell to those traditional printed labels and price tags and roll out Kroger EDGE to 200 stores! Soon enough, those paper labels and price tags will be replaced with state of the art digital displays whose price tags, labels, nutritional info, advertisements, etc. can be changed quickly and efficiently. 

So, why have I chosen to write about this technology when it does not service the beverage industry specifically? After reading through the information on Kroger EDGE, when I think of the possibilities, there is so much potential for this technology to be an integral part of beverage sales and marketing. 

In the future, this technology could be taken to the next level by highlighting special products based on user’s preferences, making recommendations based on purchases. But how about for the wine lover? What about personalizing a shopper experience by suggesting a wine or other beverage that would pair well with a particular brand of pasta sauce? Beyond being a marketing tool that displays advertisements, the display could essentially provide recommendations like “digital” sommelier. Of course, it would never replace a sommelier role in a restaurant, but in a grocery store, giving a shopper a personalized experience full of recommendations based on former purchases has a great deal of potential. The possibilities are endless! 

To take a look at a video introducing Kroger EDGE, go to: https://vimeo.com/206137289.

I look forward to seeing the rollout of these “smart” displays and what the future brings.

Until next time, Cheers~!