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Market research company, Kantar Worldpanel, says fresh produce accounts for 60% of all groceries sold globally, but less than 5% is sold online. Could a self-driving, mobile grocery store change this?

Robomart Inc. Self-Driving Food Delivery Store
Robomart, Inc

We're witnessing a new dawn of convenience food delivery systems. Eighteen years into the 21st century, and fleets of driverless grocery vehicles and mobile stores, are on the production line, set to meet consumer demand for food to arrive when we want, where we want, at the price we want.

These autonomous produce carriers are already zipping around neighbourhoods in the US and the UK, bringing takeaways and fresh produce direct to our homes and places of work.

It won’t be long before Scotland is on the delivery route, and they could prove especially beneficial to people living in rural areas. Infinite market opportunities could be on the horizon for Scottish food and drink businesses. 

Store-to-door produce delivery 

According to research by the Financial Times and Statista, Deliveroo is Europe’s fastest growing company. This clearly shows that the demand for food and drink convenience continues. And nothing’s more convenient than home deliveries. 

The UK leads the way in terms of consumer delivery options in Europe. Ecommerce News revealed 79% of retailers offer free standard home delivery, with around 95% of retailers offering free click and collect services. 

The cash flowing into this market is only likely to increase, as consumers get on with their chores, or put their feet up, and dial d for delivery. 

Follow the money online

Market insight company, Mintel, shows online grocery retail sales rose from £9.9 billion in 2016 to £11.1 billion in 2017, a growth of 12% year-on-year. 

More than 29% of online shoppers claim to have done more of their grocery shopping on the web in the past year. The proportion of Brits doing all of their grocery shopping online has doubled in recent years, a rise from 7% in 2014, to 14 % in 2017. Around 48% of the UK did some form of grocery shopping online in 2017, compared to 43% in 2014. 

Overall the online grocery market is estimated to grow by up to £15 billion by 2020. With online deliveries thriving in the UK, the self-driving delivery vehicle market here looks set to bring opportunity for all. 

So, what does the current self-drive, mobile market look like? 

Food transport fleet of the future 

Robomart from California is an autonomous driving grocery van and mobile shop, aiming to become the most affordable on-demand delivery service globally.  

Working in a similar way to Uber, consumers can request their closest Robomart through the Robomart app, order fresh produce, and this travelling market arrives to deliver a lettuce, an orange or a banana, or two. Robomart tracks the products the customer has bought, charges and bills them. 

With supermarkets looking to license this tech, it’s no surprise that other start-ups have similar clever stuff in development. Watch out for companies such as Nuro, Robby Technologies, Thyssenkrupp Elevator, Marble, and Starship Technologies, all of whom are currently trialling driverless vehicles. 

On our doorstep

Innovation in this fast-moving tech area is happening closer to home too. CargoPod is the self-driving vehicle proposition from supermarket Ocado and Oxford-based tech company, Oxbotica. Oxbotica is developing driverless tech in the UK, and their self-driving love child with Ocado, completed its first trials in the UK in 2017.  

One CargoPod can carry up to eight grocery orders in separate compartments, weighing 128kg in total. These electric-powered vehicles use cameras, sensors and lasers to navigate through the streets. Once the vehicle is at the target location, the customer receives a message to pick up their goods. 

Business opportunities

Self-driving delivery vans and grocery stores look set to make life easier for the Scottish consumer, and potentially improve the health of the nation. It could pay dividends by offering customers the ability to choose the fresh produce they want, rather than having it picked by someone else.

Being able to supply and cover large rural areas in Scotland could benefit all communities in a sustainable way. 

Make Innovation Happen

If you’re interested in retail trends in Scotland, and other food and drink innovation developments, we can help. Our Make Innovation Happen service enlists the help of innovation connectors, who work with companies to get their ideas to market.

Looking for support to become more innovative, or working on something new or different that will add value to your business? We can help. We have expert knowledge on product development, processes and best practice training for employees. Make Innovation Happen can really be the business difference your company needs. 

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