Jan 12, 2019 - Economy & Business

The store of the future is a supermarket

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

With their high volume foot traffic, grocery stores are ideal labs to test bold ideas meant to save brick and mortar retail.

China's Alibaba is leading the way. In its Hema supermarkets shoppers can choose groceries in store, then get them delivered, or they can order online, then drive over to pick up.

  • In the U.S., Kroger has partnered with Microsoft to roll out grocery stores with LED shelves that reflect sale prices in real time and sensors that track which shelves need to be restocked.
  • Grocery logistics is a new business. The Kroger-Microsoft prototype also allows the stores to accept and quickly fulfill online orders. The partners plan to monetize by selling the tech to other retailers.

Be smart: The dystopian human-less grocery store of the future isn't coming soon — it's just too creepy.

"There will definitely be skepticism around it. It feels a little like big brother. Are they going to be monitoring me in the store?," says Barbara Denham, a senior economist at Reis, a commercial real estate analytics firm owned by Moody's.

Special report: The future of retail

Go deeper

Starbucks, Apple shutter stores in China amid coronavirus crisis

Photo: An Apple employee wears a protective mask in an Apple Store showroom on Feb. 1 in Beijing, China. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Starbucks, Apple and McDonalds are among the American companies temporarily shuttering stores throughout China as the coronavirus affects thousands within the country.

The state of play: Apple announced Saturday that it is closing all 42 retail stores in China, as well as corporate offices and contact centers through Feb. 9, the Financial Times reports. The company said it hopes to reopen stores "as soon as possible."

Go deeperArrowFeb 1, 2020 - Health

New York City fights the cashless future

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

In yet another blow to the cashless revolution, New York City lawmakers passed legislation banning stores from going cash-free this past week.

What's happening: Several stores — including Amazon Go, Sweetgreen and Shake Shack — are leading an effort to do away with cash. But cities are fighting back, saying that stores that don't accept cash discriminate against millions of Americans, mostly the poor, elderly and immigrants, who don't use credit cards. New York follows Philadelphia, San Francisco, New Jersey and Massachusetts in banning cashless stores.

Go deeperArrowJan 25, 2020

Retailers are guzzling data just like tech giants

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Much of the debate around data privacy has centered on the tech giants that are collecting consumer data, but retailers are formidable data guzzlers, too.

Why it matters: The places we shop track us in stores and online and use those troves of data to get us to spend more money. "I think it would be wise if everyone stopped thinking of retailers as retailers and started thinking of them as tech companies," Amy Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute, tells Axios.