16. Supermarkets: The future

Technology is continuing to change the way that supermarkets operate.

The trend is towards combining online shopping over the internet with physically picking up the goods. Some organsiations call this 'click and collect'.

The way it works is that you spend time setting up your order online then once you are finished this order is sent to the local store where a picker puts these items in a trolley that is waiting for you to collect.

Another popular trend is home delivery. This is an especially valuable service in rural areas where the nearest main store might be an hour's drive away. Home delivery is often cheaper than the cost of petrol to drive to the store. The way it works it that you do your shopping online and place the order along with an agreed time slot for delivery. This information is stored in a database then sent over the company network to the nearest 'fulfillment' store. A computer works out the most efficient sequence in which to pick these items to minimise the time taken. Pickers then walk around the store, placing items into a box for delivery.

A computer then assigns these boxes in the most efficient way to each delivery lorry.

You will often see a supermarket lorry driving around your local area making deliveries, and it is only possible because of the development of high speed networks, powerful databases and complex programming.


Challenge see if you can find out one extra fact on this topic that we haven't already told you

Click on this link: Future of supermarket technology