At Impact Group we are always keeping an eye on emerging technologies related to the CPG retail space. While it is obviously difficult to know where the market is headed with so much disruption in the works, we can postulate that integrating the digital space with everyday experiences will continue to grow and challenge our ideas about what it means to “go grocery shopping”.

The field of AR/VR (augmented reality/virtual reality) is working its way into the grocery retail experience from multiple angles, as Progressive Grocer explains. Product education that can provide users with the path a product travels from farm to the shelves, while virtual interaction with a brand ambassador brings home the story of a given product. Whether customers want to spend much time learning about their bananas is to be seen, but the level of on-demand product transparency available to consumers with this technology is limitless and building trust with consumers is smart business.

Shopping lists that integrate with recipes, which recommend advertised products, can be a win-win for vendor and customer alike. What results is a shopping experience that breaks down the barriers between the physical practice of buying groceries, and the increasingly digital habits of meal planning and preparation. The most forward-thinking vendors and retailers stand to capture a wide open (and expanding) marketing territory. As pointed out on Inc., the decline of coupon usage in recent years indicates that 20th century methods for marketing CPG promotions don’t apply equally to the digital space. A hard line between digital promotions and physical paper announcements has left a large rift for a blended AR approach to fill, and capture attention from both segments.

Dent Reality is one company that has created an application to directly address the AR blend.

The next iteration, virtual grocery shopping, allows customers to browse through an “endless aisle” where product selection could theoretically be as comprehensive as everything currently manufactured on the planet. In 2018, Wal-Mart acquired a VR start-up then filed a VR patent of their own. They’ve already begun using the technology to train employees. With various models currently being tested in the marketplace, we could see a fully realized version of the application as early as this year.

As discussed in our “Grocery Tech in 2019” article, the nation’s largest retailers are embracing the shift into a growing world of digital/physical integration. This recent surge into the 21st century should benefit consumers most. New and innovative technologies continue to provide an increasing array of opportunities to tailor the grocery shopping experience to each individual customer in ways never dreamt making it an exciting time to be in the CPG industry.