Episode 194: Brittain Ladd
Jan 05, 2022
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You may remember Brittain Ladd from Episode 41, one of our top 20 most downloaded episodes of all time, or Episode 141 where he discussed Amazon divesting Whole Foods and predicted most of what we saw happen in the grocery industry this year. He’s also been featured in Forbes and shares his expert insight regularly on CNBC. Now, Brittain’s back with his predictions for grocery retail and how we shop as consumers in 2022!
Brittain, a former Marine turned research-obsessed rapid grocery retail consultant, started sharing his opinion in 2013, applying Game Theory to the grocery industry globally which led him to designing the Amazon Fresh stores being built today. After leaving Amazon, Brittain started his own company, working with Kroger and starting to get recognized in the media because of how accurate his predictions were.
Since Brittain is so spot on, he’s got a lot to share with us about what we can expect in grocery retail and as consumers in 2022.
The goal for most companies will be to meet demand by leveraging automation. Since grocery retailers have already invested in a physical place to sell their groceries, they’ll need to maintain the stores by either focusing on shipping and fulfillment or investing in smart carts (like the company Instacart recently acquired called Caper), which in the long term helps companies acquire better data to understand consumer behavior on a bigger scale.
Brittain likes to say “check-in is the new check out”, meaning grocery retailers have no idea who is inside their stores until a customer checks out (hopefully) using a loyalty card or credit card that accesses the customer’s name in the retailer’s system. The current model is ‘archaic’, in Brittain’s opinion, and he is urging retailers to hop on board with “walk out and go” technology.
The retailer can track someone’s purchases and know which items they are most likely to purchase, allowing them to give specific discounts and introduce new products to personalize a customer’s experience. This will generate more revenue for the store and it’s a better shopping experience overall.
Something else Brittain has been predicting since 2019 is the move to virtual reality reach. Soon, instead of going to a website or a store, consumers will shop for groceries in the comfort of their own home in grocery stores that don’t even exist because they are virtual!
“I keep saying to companies, whether you’re a farmer, small business owner or a major corporation, you need to be asking yourself, ‘what is our metaverse strategy? How do we market ourselves in the metaverse? How do we have a presence in the metaverse?” – Brittain Ladd (14:38-14:52)
Another trend we’re going to see grow is rapid grocery delivery, which has been happening in Europe and Russia where grocery companies are offering customers the ability to receive their products in 10-15 minutes. Brittain says that when we’re given the choice we’re always going to err on the side of getting things faster, so grocery retailers are going to have to make investments in technology and work with rapid grocery delivery companies or micro fulfillment centers where robotic systems are used to fulfill orders. If you live in cities like Los Angeles, you might have already seen some of the autonomous vehicles being used in bike lanes or sidewalks.
The concern for consumers with this is, of course, picking out fresh produce. Companies like Caper have smart carts that have a robotic arm extending from it and the ability to pick up even just a single blueberry at the time. The arm has a camera on it so you can watch from home and operate the arm yourself. It can even dictate how old the food is based on density or the date the food was put on the shelf, and detect things like bruises and wormholes.
Although the world and how we shop for groceries is changing rapidly, these technological changes will give us all a lot more time back in our day and improve our quality of life. Make sure to follow Brittain on Forbes or LinkedIn and listen to the full episode where he also discusses his 2022 predictions for mergers, acquisitions, inflation and more!
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