An Inside Look at 6 Intriguing Startups From GroceryShop 2019

Launched in 2018, the annual GroceryShop conference is rapidly becoming a “go-to” event in the grocery and CPG industry. Attendees include leaders from top brands, founders from innovative startups, and just about everyone in-between. It is a great place to stay abreast of the latest trends and emerging technologies in the grocery world. 

This year the conference took place at the dazzling Venetian resort in Las Vegas during mid-September, and it did not disappoint. There is a lot that could be said about the event, but one of the key highlights was listening to pitches from a number of startup founders.

GroceryShop 2019 Group

While many of the startup concepts seemed to have merit, six presentations in particular caught our attention as ideas worth keeping an eye on. But are these just passing gimmicks or will they scale to become industry game changers? I’ll let you decide. Here is a brief description of each:

1) Tastry

Combining chemistry with machine learning and AI, Tastry claims to be able to help consumers identify wines they will love based on a short survey they can take on an in-store kiosk. It is a bold claim, but what retailers are really excited about is the potential 5x to 10x boost in annual ROI Tastry is promising to deliver stores. 

Tastry Kiosk Image

There must be something to it, because Tastry is ramping up to 1,200 locations by 2020. And wine is only the beginning. They are already working on plans to apply their technology to beer, coffee, perfume, and a host of other “sensory” products.

2) Shoppermotion

With Shoppermotion’s proprietary indoor mapping technology, retailers can visualize actual consumer behavior from thousands of actual shopping trips. Sensors capture every shopper’s journey throughout the store, then their proprietary technology analyzes the data to provide heatmaps, reports, and actionable insights. 

Store Heatmap

While the idea of having your every move scrutinized as you pick out the perfect bunch of bananas may sound a little creepy, this technology can help retailers identify blind spots and correlations, match staffing schedules to demand, and generally optimize shopping experiences.

3) Babylon Micro-Farms

When it comes to fruit and vegetables, nothing beats the flavor and quality of something that has just been picked. At least that is what Babylon Micro-Farms is counting on. The company provides smart modular indoor farming systems that could ultimately allow retailers to grow their own fresh produce on location. 

Micro-Farm

With just over 50 locations in Virginia, they have a long way to go. But their vision of delivering fresh produce year round via smart farms that are managed remotely is certainly compelling. Apparently their produce has a 50% better shelf life than shipped varieties. And their slick app makes it easy for stores to manage the entire process from their mobile devices.

4) Shipt

Don’t have time to go to the store, but still need a fresh supply of your favorite groceries? No problem, Shipt has an army of professional shoppers ready to help. Just use their app to browse your favorite stores and place an order. It will be delivered to your front door in as little as an hour. 

Professional Shipt Shopper Image

Shipt isn’t the only company offering this type of service, but their focus on partners, people, and getting meat and produce orders just right is giving them an advantage in the space. They already have over 100,000 Shipt shoppers just waiting for you to place an order.

5) Cargo

Cargo is on a mission to turn every Uber car into a vending machine on wheels. Riders can interact with an in-car kiosk to easily order and pay for products (like candy and drinks), that the driver then provides. 

It may sound like a gimmick, but Cargo already has 20,000 drivers signed-up and is partnering with Uber. Drivers make a commission off of each sale and really have nothing to lose. So who knows, next time you need a Monster Energy to get through the afternoon, you may just need to take an Uber ride around the block.

6) Ocado

As the leading online grocery retailer in the UK, Ocado isn’t exactly a startup. But what is new is their collaboration with Kroger – the largest grocery chain in the USA. Why is this noteable? Because Ocado is known for their unique model of delivering groceries directly from warehouses to online shoppers and has been doing very well in the UK. 

Ocado Delivery Image

Kroger is hoping to capture some of this magic and is relying on Ocado’s proprietary technology to build several automated fulfillment centers in the USA. In fact, the first facility is currently under construction in Texas. Watch out Shipt – robots are headed your way.

Conclusion

Startups are never sure bets. Ideas that seem like winners often fail, while others that seem unlikely sometimes succeed. But one thing is clear from all of these pitches. Technology and data are revolutionizing the grocery and CPG industry and that trend is here to stay.

GroceryShop 2019 is a wrap, but 2020 is just around the corner. If you are looking for a fantastic opportunity to meet top players in the industry, and learn about what is coming next, then you should consider adding it to your calendar. I’d recommend it.

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Bruce is the founder and CEO of RW3 Technologies. Having spent more than 35 years in the consumer goods and grocer space Bruce has experienced the industry disruption first hand and understands how artificial intelligence, POS data, and mobile technology can transform a good organization into a great one.

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