We just seen another unicorn reaching for the skies and traditional business expanding into new tech. The home appliances Whirlpool Corporation acquired Yummly – the picture recipe search engine with over 20 million users. The app, all based on yummy food pictures, gives you ideas about individuals preferences and dietary requirements. Once you made up your mind about what to munch, it delivers all the ingredients and food equipment to your doorstep.
So, as offline businesses increasingly expand into high-tech startups, would it be fare to say that food corporations are more dependent on new tech than ever before? Here are some reasons for why that may be the case:
1. Food Porn
Let’s face it – food porn is a part of life! Our social feeds are full with picture of avocado on sourdough toast with a soft-focus filters. There’s even a series on FYI dedicated to Food Porn featuring the best pics of our munchies and looks for the ultimate #foodgasm. We see food as a vital part of our identity, so we simply can’t stop ourselves from sharing pictures of our dish. This is why this type of advertising could never vanish. It’s more effective than any supermarket campaign and something adverts can never cut through.
2. Visual Search Engines
Visual search is definitely up there on the current tech trends. Ultimately, we’ll be able to get all the info by looking at things terminator-2-style. We might not be quite there yet, visual recognition is getting more real for each passing day. Remember though, a picture is 2000 words, so when it comes to search, it’s works on a different level! We can now use mobile phone cameras to detect what you take pictures of, recommend us recipes and how to make the best of it.
This is an unfair battle for an offline businesses. A customer browsing the supermarket isles would never give out as much info as someone using a mobile phone. This info is worth gold for retailers. Data from you and your friends available through social networks helps making that life-changing-decision about the birthday cake. There’s no need to read the small print… or even know what your friend like. Your phone has all the information about allergies, cuisine, dietary requirements you and your friends will ever need.
Simple, but controversial. Most retailers now track your movement in the shop using your mobile phone. You may feel it’s intrusive but unfortunately for all the narcissists out there; it’s not about you as an individual. It’s used for the big picture and gives shops that vital info about peak hours and movement. While this tech is a great advantage for the supermarket, it’s even better for new tech apps. While you cruise down the isles, it can recommend you the best dishes you can make with those vegetables you just walked past or even get it all delivered to your place. No more queues or bags -wherever you go.
If you live in a city, you probably know that weekly shopping culture is disappearing. We’re shopping little but often. 40% of the supermarket sales are after 5 pm, as people grab dinner on the way home. This is again something that new tech companies can do better than supermarkets. They are able to be more flexible, use big data to stock products and get groceries from various sources. By co-operating with new tech apps, supermarkets access to new ways of shopping and adopt to the modern consumer.
6. Instant access
Some new food apps allow you to get all the ingredients and the cooking equipment with a click of a button. Most of them, would even be able to do that in an hour; same amount of time as it takes to get a take-away. The app can remember the shopping list and even tell you how much of each ingredient you use. Thought high tech, the supermarket can ping you every time you pass your favourite nuts and recommend amazing dishes based on the current offer.
7. Kitchens of the Future
Kitchen of the future is the dreams for all of us who sees ourselves as “creative cooks”. They do all the boring stuff for us. At home, smart counters measure the amount, heats your pan, sets timers, most importantly; washes all those dishes. At the shop, it can give you cooking tips for tonight as it knows how much time you normally spend in the kitchen and the type of food you normally cook. It can even take things like weather into account and recommend salad you will enjoy on this particular sunny morning.
No need to remember that you’ve run out of milk, the tech will do it for you. It can tell you what you need, how often and where to buy it based on where you are. As you browse through recipes, it scans your fridge and lets you know whether it’s enough for that sauce you’ve got in mind. You’ll never come home and find out that that milk pack on the bottom shelf is actually empty.
We need to know where the food is coming from and the condition the product had been grown/raised in. Of course, that information is already available on the back of the pack (though it certainly doesn’t tell you the whole story). Of course, if you decide to investigate everything every time you go shopping, you’d end up spending hours just reading and evaluating. This becomes a lot easier through new tech. It can show you info about everything you put in your moth.
We touch or phones over 2500 times a day. Even if you only get 5 hours sleep at night, it’s 130 times an hour. That’s 70 times each time we visit the shop. Whether we check the next food recipe or not, it’s still a distraction from the supermarket’s point of view. As a result, shop is the place where we grab and go, while the phone is where we really browse the isles.
Offline, online, or on the move: sharing is caring. In the end of the day, food porn is visual. And, incredibly popular too! There are 300 million food porn pictures on Instagram, compared to 57 million travel photos and 69 million sunsets. Dishes are popular. Very popular and though you don’t find food in the supermarket, it’s definitely where you get what you need.
New tech and traditional supermarket can exist in symbiosis. It’s not in competition with traditional food, but rather a way of doing what we have been doing so well since the birth of our species… though now it’s got a filter on!