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Dinner table from above

How AI can help answer the daily question: “What’s for dinner?”

A healthy, delicious meal. Isn’t that what we all would like to have every night? But somehow, grocery shopping remains a tedious and sometimes overwhelming task. Especially when you account for the varied preferences and dietary needs of those you’re feeding. You make your way to the supermarket, written list in hand, strategizing about the most efficient route through the store to ensure you don’t keep walking from one aisle to the other. After you’ve figured out the route you’re going to take, you face the challenge of picking from a wide variety of sizes, brands, and prices of the products you need. And of course you’re now struggling to remember that one item from the recipe you forgot to write down.

Fortunately, there are some technology solutions which might know what you want to eat, which route to take at the supermarket, where to find the best prices, and the name of that forgotten product before you do. Interested? Europe’s leading supermarket chains most certainly are! Artificial intelligence (AI) is the secret ingredient, minimizing hassle and allowing us to spend more time on the things that matter most, like time at the dinner table with friends and family.

Smarter, more personalized, shopping lists
Key to any successful grocery shopping trip is a good shopping list. Understanding this, Albert Heijn, The Netherlands’ largest supermarket chain and part of global conglomerate Ahold Delhaize, partnered with Microsoft to create an AI-powered solution called Predict My List.

By capturing, storing, and analyzing online and offline shopping data – such as past purchases, location and even time of year – in the cloud, Albert Heijn is using AI to predict and recommend more optimal shopping lists, alternative groceries, recipes, and more for its 10 million weekly customers.

shopping list

In Italy, another AI-powered shopping assistant is making waves on social media. Coop, Italy’s largest supermarket network developed an inbuilt Facebook chatbot called SHoppY.

Through machine learning, ShoppY is able to learn and process, in an anonymous way, the data contained on a customer shopping list in order to provide purchase recommendations, promotion notifications, find products in the store, and even alert when stores nearby are open. ShoppY can also remember your shopping history, which means it can recover a previous list and update it, or start a new one while recommending new products typically associated with the items on a shopper’s list.

We undertook a digital transformation and redesigned the grocery shopping experience that meets customer demand in a simple and intuitive way – Gabriele Tubertini, CIO Coop Italia

Searching and ‘sensing’ an empty shelf
Supermarkets around the world are also applying technology-based solutions to ensure that their shoppers not only find what they’re looking for, but that it’s always in stock. For Dutch shoppers, Albert Heijn has connected its stores and supply chain via big data, AI and machine learning to optimize stock management and replenishment decisions. And In Italy, Coop has built sensors into its shop floor to collect real-time data that helps optimize the replenishment of shelves.

What’s more, the Italian supermarket giant installed a number of interactive digital screens on the shop floor of its Milan ‘Supermarket of the Future’, which allows shoppers to effortlessly filter through it’s 1,500 product range. In the process, customers get instant access and visibility of a product’s provenance and ingredients in case any of your dinner guests are picky or have an allergy.

We’re using dimensions of data to see more details about inventory: where we need stock, how much, where it is in our digital supply chain network. This data helps us optimise our processes; getting inventory where it needs to be, more quickly and efficiently, says Mike Blay, Vice President of IT Development at Albert Heijn.

Faster check-out
In addition to making shopping easier, leading supermarkets are also working to make it faster. Wary of competition, often from players outside the food retail sector, Albert Heijn is trialing a concept called Tap To Go in four of its 1,000 stores. The new solution allows customers to walk into a store, pay for a product by tapping the shelf with their card or phone, and then go – reducing a typical shopping journey from four minutes to just 20 seconds.

Outside the grocery store, having unloaded all your purchases into the back of the car, you drive away committed to being more efficient next week. The good news is that Europe’s supermarkets are already innovating with AI and machine learning to help you by making each trip less time consuming – and making grocery shopping child’s play and not a chore.

So the next time that question of “what’s for dinner” comes up, the answer will quite literally be in the palm of your hand. All you need to do is grasp it, and let AI do the work!

For more information on how Artificial Intelligence is transforming the shopping experience click here.