Inspired by a recent blog by Emma O’Doherty about a Checkout Magazine competition that ran in 1975, we imagine what supermarkets will look like in one hundred years - from smell expressors and hover trollies to soothing blue lights and cloned meat.
My supermarket in 2115 is in The Matrix! I hate the time wasted grocery shopping, but love the randomness of new product discovery that comes with browsing. So I’ll stay in one place, but at a click of my fingers (wearing some snazzy piece of tech) the aisle I’m in changes, so I can happily browse without walking past miles of irrelevant product. My favourite purchases will be illuminated on shelves, with competitive products projecting comparisons (price, nutrition, user reviews etc.) enabling me to make informed decisions. Make it so!
In the olden times, a band that my Grandfather told me about were called The Clash. They played old instruments that you only see in museums these days. They sang a song about being “lost in a supermarket”. This always made laugh as no one ever gets lost these days, you can’t even hide if you want to. Someone will always find you. It’s comforting that everywhere we go, there’s a watchful eye over us.
As I walk around the store with my Mum, the first thing I notice is some products seem to be highlighted in a soothing blue light. I once asked her why this happened. She told me that Tyrell’s use facial tracking and could tell what caught her eye. So the next time she came in those particular products would gently glow as a reminder that she might like to buy it. Sometimes she lets me sit on top of one of the cleaning units as it slowly patrols each aisle for breakages and spills. I like to help her, she lets me use the scan gun to scan the items that will be waiting for us when we arrive home. The scan gun tells the picking department what we want and then the items are packed and ready for delivery. Some times she lets me watch the drones as the buzz off into the sky ready to drop our purchases home.
By the year 2115, shopping in a supermarket will be considered a luxury experience reserved for very special occasions.
This is because the people of the future will get their daily nourishment through downloadable food patches that can be printed from a smartphone and stuck directly onto their skin, making the arduous task of chewing almost redundant.
So in an effort to attract customers, supermarkets will offer a high-end shopping experience selling only high-price gourmet items and services. Rich, colourful carpets will line every aisle, and eager supermarket staff will help people plan their ‘retro’ cooked meal.
“You’re actually cooking something? What a throwback!” people will say.
Computers and screens will advance to incorporate taste and smell expressors. When you click on a product online or see one on TV, you will be able to smell and taste it before you buy it.
Supermarkets will become more like collection points, not selling products but acting more as warehouses where the products are stored and collected from. People won’t work there and robots will control hover trollies that gather products for you. You will pick up the food that you’ve ordered in advance, or it will be delivered to temperature-controlled kiosks placed around cities.
Fruit will become a delicacy, because it will be so rare reserved for special occasions. Cloned meat will be the norm, and it will become rare to find actual organic meat.
For me, the supermarket of the future will be completely eco-friendly, minimal experience for consumers, giving as much information as possible about where produce comes from and their carbon footprint. For future generations preservation will be key, supermarkets will shift their focus to reflect changing needs and priorities. Therefore supermarkets will have very little packaging, if any, and choice will be narrowed to ensure a more local focus. As opposed to retail giants growing in size, I see more local independent retailers taking over in the future.
Who’s to say there will be supermarkets in 100 years, especially with everyone living their lives more on the internet and phones. Perhaps supermarkets will regress and there will be no middle man. Online shopping apps will be on a whole new level, scanning anything and everything you see in press, menus and TV for it to be delivered to your door. Organic, fresh and healthy produce will be ordered from your mobile and come straight to our door from the farms and factories.
My home in 2115 is installed with a shopping portal as standard. Through this 'shop-port' machine, I can connect with any supermarket port of my choice. Products are teleported directly to my 'shop-port'. As time and distance is no longer an issue, this means I can get products direct from their source, like ripe avocadoes from Guatemala, juicy mangoes from Nigeria and goats cheese from France. This system also has another advantage – it cuts out the whole packing and unpacking bit of the weekly food shop which is surely the worst bit!
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