Walmart 3-D image patent lets online shoppers pick their produce
Through a special arrangement, what follows is an excerpt of an article from Retail Dive, an e-newsletter and website providing a 60-second bird’s eye view of the latest retail news and trends.
A new patent from Walmart would allow consumers to view real images of their groceries — rather than stock images — before purchasing online, CB Insights reported.
Through the system, called the “Fresh Online Experience” (FOE), a customer orders an item based on a stock photo. A store associate then scans the exact item in Walmart’s inventory with a 3-D scanner and the image is sent to the customer to accept or reject the particular item.
The system places an “edible watermark” on the item selected by the consumer before the goods are delivered.
Although e-commerce has skyrocketed in recent years, many consumers have been reluctant to buy their food and groceries online, particularly because they want to see, feel and smell produce before buying it.
A study from Nielsen last year found more than half of customers worldwide have purchased clothes, books and music online. In comparison, less than a quarter of consumers have bought packaged or fresh groceries online.
Walmart’s patent is just the latest example of the store realizing the necessity to compete with Amazon.com.
Last fall, Walmart acquired Parcel, a same-day last-mile delivery company that allowed it to compete with Amazon Prime’s two-day delivery service. It also partnered with Deliv as a way of countering Amazon Key. Both services allow deliveries directly into a customers’ home or even refrigerator.
Walmart’s patent has the potential to break down one of the biggest barriers to consumers buying fresh groceries online. This time, the supermarket giant may have beaten Amazon to the punch.
- Walmart Patent Aims to Solve the Biggest Obstacle to Online Grocery Shopping – CB Insights
- Walmart 3-D image patent lets shoppers pick their produce – Retail Dive
- System And Method For Fresh Online Experience – U.S. Patent & Trademark Office
- Walmart deal show’s its serious about same-day delivery – RetailWire
- Walmart buys same-day delivery company Parcel – Supply Chain Dive
- FMI And Nielsen Release First Set Of Findings On The Digitally Engaged Food Shopper – Nielsen
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will enabling shoppers to view actual produce before purchasing be a necessary step to instill confidence in buying such products online? Is the system explained in the patent feasible or will it have to be significantly adjusted?