Grocery revolution

Finally… the home straight! env23’s research report for new CIWM President, Margaret Bates, is due for publication shortly. But what’s it all about?

The short version: we’re on the cusp of a revolution.

The technology available to consumers – householders – is mind-boggling, compared to just a few years ago. The ability to communicate, research, shop, complain and work from almost anywhere, any time, is revolutionising how and what we consume. But we are just scratching the surface.

As we reach tipping points in consumer attitudes, behaviours and cultures, the way retailers and brands service and compete for customers will change; the question is, how will this impact on resource efficiency, will it create circular economy opportunities and how much ‘stuff’ will be left in our bins?

UK consumers are more likely to shop on a mobile device than other nations around the world, making the UK one of the largest online markets globally. And it’s not an age thing, as 55+ year olds are just as likely to shop online as anyone.

The fastest growing channel, the way we shop, is online, with more and more shoppers who have already made the jump increasing the proportion of purchases they make online. The switch is supported by competition in the ‘last mile’ delivery market, and by new entrants shedding the traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ high-street store approach.

Companies such as Amazon and Uber are taking their first tentative steps, but the direction of travel is clear.

The wide adoption of online grocery shopping, combined with uberisation, smart technology in the home and much smarter use of sales data, has the potential to, as one commentator put it, become the ‘Just Eat At Home’ solution that brings just-in-time meals and ingredients direct to your kitchen, minimising consumer packaging and food waste in the home, utilising refillable and returnable packaging.

This takes the current highly-evolved system, and totally revolutionises it.

There is a hunger for innovation, and brands, retailers, local government and the resource management sector will need to work together to deliver this lower waste vision of the future, through an extended producer responsibility programme that research shows the public will support, allied to continuing innovation in food retail, home delivery and recycling service delivery.

People and technology are driving this change; retailers and brands are running to catch up. Combined, there are profound implications for local authorities and resource management companies.

More soon…