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EDITORIAL Young consumers value tech over all else in the retail experience: how are retailers responding?

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More than half of millennials and Gen Z consumers say that they value technology in-stores over lower prices, there is now a scramble among retailers large and small to roll out tech solutions.

Novelty store Flying Tiger Copenhagen has become one of the first smaller retailers to roll out scan, pay and go technology, putting it up there with the big boys such as Tesco, Sainsbury and Amazon. The tech sits well with the retailers multi-product layout and adds a huge helping of convenience to what it offers. What makes it special is that you don’t see much of this in smaller retailers. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a new era for convenience stores and the like, as they make what they do more, well, convenient?

That is certainly part of the thinking behind Ocado’s Ocado Re;Imagined launch this week. It has made its pick and pack tech smaller, lighter and more efficient, created a new warehouse grid and revamped how logistics can be managed to offer much more efficient ways to fulfil grocery delivery quickly and easily.

While it is looking to improve its own operations, it is also looking to up the ante for its partners and, one suspects, is angling to start to sell its automated grocery services to smaller retailers. With more local stores turning to Uber and Deliveroo to offer sub-hour deliveries, Ocado is hoping to allow itself and its clients to compete on this granular level and to help facilitate the next generation of rapid delivery.

The key lies in making it cost effective, which is where its AI-backed logistics management tools come into play. Launched 20 years to the day that Ocado carried out its first home delivery, it is placing itself very much at the forefront of the next leap forward for this vital part of the industry.

It could also set new standards in how delivery of anything, not just groceries, are perceived and expected by consumers.

Aldi, meanwhile, is taking a different tack. In place of having its own online grocery delivery business up and running, it is using online to help educate its customers in what it calls ‘Aldinomics’. This, it seems, is the ‘science’ of shopping smart and making the most of offers and bargains. It has teamed up with Mensa no less to test how well people do it and offer them advice on how to do it better.

In other news, Pets At Home continues to reap the benefits of the lock down pet boom, seeing its omni-channel sales up for another quarter. It too is now focussing on delivery and click and collect to lead the next stage of its growth – let’s hope it has tuned into Ocado’s launch and can start to meet the level of expectation that that is set to raise among shoppers.

Elsewhere we learn that the ecommerce boom has led to a mass of returns, with serial returners costing retailers as much as £15,000 a month in lost revenues. We also finds that social media use now reaches almost 60% of the world’s population, while the UK leads the way in levels of ecommerce – 30% of total retail in 2021.

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