Hidden inside Expo2015, Milan’s food-themed World Fair(*), you can visit Coop’s(**) prototype of the “future supermarket”.
(*): Expo is huge, it extends over 1.1 million square meters of exhibition area
(**): Italy’s largest grocery retailer
This 2,500sq.m. supermarket fully functional prototype (designed by Italian design firm Carlo Ratti Associati) explores how advanced digital technologies can change the way people interact with products while shopping.
Actually, how will the supermarket of the future look? …since an image is worth 1.000 words, feel free to look at the following photos (by Daniela Pivato, Andy Cavallini) – I added some thoughts below…
Let me add just a couple of comments.
The store-floor reminds me of a mix between a modern art museum and a local market, with more than 1.500 products displayed on friendly, large, low shelves or tables; when I browse a product (a bottle of Italian red wine, for example – refer to photo below), contextual information timely appears on an elegant black screen suspended in front of me: price, nutritional values (energy, sugar, fats, saturated fats, salt, etc.), and even its carbon footprint.
As a matter of fact, the magical tech behind these interactive shelves uses the Kinect gesture recognition technology by Microsoft – from video-games to retail…!
Are you buying a single apple? Don’t hesitate to press a button: a couple of nice robots will diligently pick up your apple, insert it in a small, apple-sized paper bag and give it to you (again, see photo below).
Is it mind-blowing? Of course!
Is it useful/practical? I am not so sure…
My final 2 cents: I think this “future supermarket” is a valuable experiment that can teach several significant retail lessons… …some of which can be implemented in the real world not so far ahead.