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The grocery store could be the most visible place to see the impact of technological change on consumers, businesses, and American workers.

That is a realization of my colleague Sapna Maheshwariwho recently wrote about what pandemic-induced changes in grocery shopping are Make grocery stores more like Amazon warehouses.

We’ve talked about how a relatively small percentage of Americans have changed to skip the grocery store to order online, and how stores and their employees navigate the unknown future of groceries.

Shira: What’s new in Americans Shopping habits when shopping, and what does that mean for business?

Sapna: The biggest change is that during the pandemic, a lot more people started ordering groceries online Pick up in stores or for home deliveries. shopping online grown quicklybut it’s still not huge. People in the industry told me that it now accounts for less than 10 percent of grocery shopping.

Even this relatively small change is the biggest upheaval in the industry in years and a challenge. For every order that we pick up or have delivered in the store, someone makes a personal purchase for us. Grocery stores usually do not have a lot of financial leeway. The industry standard is about $ 5 profit on a $ 100 grocery purchase.

How do grocers try to deal with this?

The main way is try everything to make the staff in the store more efficient when putting together food orders to keep costs down. One manager told me that every second counts.

Some stores use handheld gadgets to guide employees through the store to the 20 items on the shopping list. Some food packaging has changed so that a worker doesn’t spend time weighing a pound of apples; instead, she can just grab a pre-made bag of apples.

That sounds like an Amazon warehouse or other e-commerce distribution center.

That’s true. Grocers find themselves in this difficult phase of not knowing how future generations will want to shop. So grocery stores try to serve dual roles as places for personal shopping and online order assembly lines, much like an Amazon warehouse.

One difference is that most people don’t see what’s going on in an e-commerce center. The changes in grocery stores and jobs are happening where we move our shopping carts. It’s such a clear example of how technology is changing our lives in one of the most ordinary places in America and for a large workforce.

Great point. And how do the branch employees feel about the changes in their jobs?

It varies. I spoke to someone who enjoyed the stimulation and physical activity of walking around a store and putting together grocery orders.

I’ve also spoken to employees who felt humbled by how much of their work was being guided by automated systems and measured by how quickly they put orders together. A worker told me about the fear of bamboo skewers. They’re often located near meat or seafood counters, which might make sense for a personal shopper looking to make kebabs. However, it is less efficient for a store clerk to find dozens of items in an hour.

Is this stress temporary for businesses and workers? If most people start shopping online rather than in person, can grocers focus on making grocery collection and delivery better for everyone involved?

I dont know. The Kroger supermarket chain made headlines for Investing in large automated warehouses with robots, which the company says will eventually do much of the work of putting food orders together. Test other companies Mini warehouses attached to shops which are only intended to put together online orders.

Most grocery stores can’t spend what Walmart or Amazon do to invest in new technology. And some of the technology designed to help grocers or store clerks perfect the process of picking and packaging online orders could be nonsense. There may not be an ideal future for shoppers, supermarkets, and grocery workers.



  • Technology and science research have united the Senate: A bill for $ 250 billion for Promote breakthroughs in new technologies Passed easily in the Senate, writes my colleague Catie Edmondson. (It’s more complicated indoors.) Americans and US politicians don’t usually love spending tax dollars to prop up private industry, but I wrote about how earlier this year Competition with China has changed many minds. There are more on “The Daily. “

  • What’s new and might be helpful in your latest phone software: My colleague Brian X. Chen goes through some of the updated features in the operating systems for iPhones and Android phones. This includes automated iPhone messages to let others know you’re too busy to text messages, and more clarity on when apps are accessing your phone’s camera or using your location.

  • They are stressed because they entertain us: My colleague Taylor Lorenz writes that the long-standing problem of burnout among people who become famous online is now reaching TikTok’s young stars. She spoke to people who knew the chore of building an audience online and were still surprised they are struggle with the demands of constantly creating new material.

You have to read this Series of tweets of a woman who wanted to help her father find a job at Costco. There is zander and return channel messaging with a Costco manager. I will not spoil the ending.


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