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How is the Rise of E-Commerce Changing the Role of Physical Stores?

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How is the Rise of E-Commerce Changing the Role of Physical Stores?

How is the Rise of E-Commerce Changing the Role of Physical Stores?
August 21
09:03 2017

The rise of the internet has allowed retailers to directly connect with consumers from beyond the physical store revolutionising the competitive space more than ever. The world recently saw the acquisition of Amazon and Whole Foods which sent shock waves through the retail industry. This unforeseen merger has put retailers under pressure more than ever to adapt to survive, but how exactly is e-commerce changing the role of physical stores in this data-driven industry?

“Authenticity, quality, human interaction, trust and transparency are the key roles of future food retailers. E-commerce will transform the customer to point of sale through data and logistic infrastructure. But the emotional part such as social interaction, dining and story-telling of food will take pride place in a physical store,” says Fabio Ziemssen, Head of Food Innovation & FoodTech of Metro Group.

Food is personal and emotional to consumers, and this necessary adaption for the future of retail could revolutionise the physical store as it should be. But what does it look like?

“The store of the future offers many possibilities to experience products multisensorial and to immerse into a food cosmos. It will not only be the classical trade of physical goods, but also the production, processing and maturation of food the customer will experience. In addition, you will get advice on how to cook and to prepare food in physical environment,” says Ziemssen.

What e-commerce can lack is emotion, and physical stores could leverage this. But instead of separating the two, bricks and mortar have already started to blend technology with a real-life experience which is argued as the best of both ‘worlds’.

“In our stores in Friedrichshain and Antwerp for example we produce fresh herbs and microgreens direct at the point of sale. We are also working on other topics to bring food-tech in a retail environment. In the field of vertical integration, there are many possibilities to explore such as algae production, food waste re-usage,” explains Ziemssen. “The retailer needs to be the platform and the translator of food-tech technologies in the future. We know the customer’s needs and we also understand the benefits of new food technologies.”

The maintenance of relevance in a digital revolution is increasingly competitive, and as we keep moving towards the future, discussions are already being had on how important AI will become in food retail, reveals Ziemssen.

“AI becomes more important for physical stores. In this context, we talk about the ‘Internet of Food’, where we use as many as possible data capturing points to create algorithms to avoid food waste and to get an intelligent supply chain process. On top, AI is the main pillar of a blockchain approach in our food system. To improve processes for food-loss prevention, a semantic system is needed. Therefore, AI is also the basis.”

Fabio Ziemssen is sharing his insights on the panel How the Rise of E-Commerce is Changing the Role of Physical Stores at Future Food-Tech London, October 18-19 to continue the debate and discussion on what’s next for the physical store in the food industry. Joining him is an international 40+ speaker line-up with insights from ADM, DSM Venturing, Nestlé, Just Eat Ventures and Mondelēz International to name a few. Find out what the food industry will be talking about at Future FoodTech London, and view the agenda now – http://www.foodtechlondon.com/agenda/ .

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