Henderson Engineers recently attended the 2022 Energy & Store Development Conference hosted by the Food Industry Association (FMI). Jen Jewers Bowlin, client sector practice director, Dennis Hagler, refrigeration technical director, Andrew Knight, client sector operations director, Conner Meadows, refrigeration technical manager, Chad Vande Velde, grocery practice manager, and Tony Welter, client sector executive, returned from the event with several key takeaways.
Big Data is Key for Future Stores
The cost of data storage and collection has become very inexpensive, making productive use of this “big data” key to the development of future stores. This will be especially beneficial when it comes to planning through predictive maintenance of equipment and predictive analytics around shopper behavior.
Big data can also aid in improved warehousing distribution, smart retail using AI to improve the customer experience, and machine learning to improve overall efficiencies. Additionally, autonomous equipment can be used leading to more creative work.
Stores of the Future
It is estimated that by 2030, more than $10 trillion will be invested in green technologies paving the way for the store of the future. These stores will be data driven, feature product transparency, require a smaller footprint by utilizing smaller shopping spaces, and be green business focused.
Material costs are decreasing, and labor costs are continuing to rise while supply is improving but still being outpaced by demand. The bottlenecks in the supply chain we’ve seen since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic are slowly beginning to improve. A common theme at ESD was the economic uncertainty over the next 12-18 months. Among these concerns are a plateau of high-priced machinery and ongoing inflation.
Changing Buyer Habits
It was noted that 63% of shoppers have changed their buying habits because of inflation. 34% of shoppers shop exclusively in-store while 16% are mostly reliant on online shopping. Nearly half of all shoppers shop both online and in-store.
Hot topics related to refrigeration included the EPA’s final decision on sector-based refrigerant controls set to be announced on October 7, 2023. Additionally, regulator uncertainty has slowed the adoption of A3 and A2L refrigerants. UL, ASHRAE, EPA and model codes hurdles have either been cleared or have an end in sight while state, local and municipal building codes remain the biggest obstacle.
The lack of qualified technicians continues to be an industry-wide problem. This issue has been intensified due to the introduction of new green technologies. To combat this concern, some stores have opened their own in-house training programs.
Henderson Knows Retail
Our history is rooted in retail and it remains a focus today with multiple clients on the Top 100 retailers list. Our Retail Sector experts work on all sizes and types of projects from programmatic, nationwide retail and restaurant chains to specialty retail stores, luxury brand flagships, and new car showrooms. Through sustainable engineering solutions, we help our clients lessen their environmental impact. We understand what motivates and moves consumers inside a store and how to incorporate technology to create unique, omnichannel brand experiences that result in customer sales.
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