Issue 253 - Future shopping

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Basic

Vocabulary: Shopping

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Future shopping

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Future shopping

Supermarkets today are different from supermarkets 50 years ago. Some things are the same. Shoppers choose products from the shelves, then they put the products in their shopping baskets or shopping trolleys. Other things are different. Nowadays, shoppers often use electronic scales to weigh their fruit and vegetables. Also, many supermarkets now have self-checkouts, where customers pay for their shopping and put it in a shopping bag. It is not necessary for a supermarket employee to do this work.

What will a future supermarket look like? Today it is possible to do your supermarket shopping online. The supermarket can send the shopping to your home. So, why visit a supermarket? Supermarkets of the future need to give shoppers a special experience so that people continue to want to visit them. Lots of things can be automated and personalised with digital technology and artificial intelligence. There are lots of possibilities: robots putting new products on the shelves, delivery by drones to customers’ cars and personalised prices for individual shoppers when they look at a shelf of products. With more automated services, employees can provide other services. For example, they can prepare fresh food for shoppers or give a cooking class. But is it possible to make supermarkets a fun place to visit?

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Intermediate

 

Future shopping

Read the transcript and listen to the audio. Then answer the questions in the Comprehension section.

Future shopping

Today’s supermarkets are pretty different from those of 50 years ago, although not everything has changed. Shoppers still choose from a range of products on the shelves and in the freezer cabinets and place them in their shopping baskets or shopping trolleys. However, other aspects have moved on. Nowadays, shoppers usually weigh their fruit and vegetables themselves on electronic scales instead of an employee doing it using manual ones. Also, many supermarkets now have self-checkouts, where customers scan the barcodes on their goods, pay for their shopping by cash or card and then pack it themselves in their own shopping bag or one they pay extra for. It’s no longer necessary for a supermarket employee to carry out this work.

So what will a future supermarket look like? With more and more people getting used to online shopping and supermarkets expanding their home-delivery services, why would anyone want to visit a supermarket? In order to survive and continue to attract shoppers to their physical stores, supermarkets of the future need to offer customers a pleasurable shopping experience. Digital technology and artificial intelligence offer many possibilities for automation: shelf refilling by robots, delivery by drones to customers’ cars and personalised prices for individual shoppers activated by their mobile apps when they walk past a shelf of products. Automating services reduces costs and also means employees can be utilised to offer other more individual services, such as preparing fresh food in an environment similar to a market or giving a cooking demonstration. The idea is to make a trip to the supermarket an entertaining, social event. But is it really possible to make the weekly grocery shop a fun activity?

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Comprehension: Check your understanding

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Advanced

 

Future shopping

Read the transcript and listen to the audio. Then answer the questions in the Comprehension section.

Future shopping

Compared with 50 years ago, today’s supermarkets are pretty different — although not everything has changed. Shoppers still wheel their shopping trolleys or carry their shopping baskets down the aisles, selecting items from the array of shelves, chilled cabinets and freezer cabinets. However, other aspects have moved on. Nowadays, shoppers can usually weigh their fruit and vegetables themselves on electronic scales rather than having to get an employee to weigh and price up their greens manually. Also, many supermarkets now have a self-checkout section, where customers scan each item’s barcode, pay by cash or card and pack their shopping in a bag they’ve brought themselves or one they have to buy, removing the need for a supermarket employee from the entire purchase process.

So what can we expect a future supermarket to look like? With more and more consumers turning to online shopping and supermarkets expanding their home-delivery and click-and-collect services, why would anyone want to set foot inside a supermarket? In order to compete with e-commerce alternatives and lure shoppers into their brick-and-mortar stores, supermarkets of the future need to provide customers with a unique, pleasurable shopping experience. Digital technology and artificial intelligence offer many possibilities for automation. Robots could take care of stock taking, reordering and shelf refilling while boxes could be delivered by drones to customers’ cars. There’s also lots of scope for using digital price tags to display personalised offers to shoppers when they walk past a shelf of products carrying their mobile, based on their individual profiles on the supermarket’s app.

Automating services reduces overheads but could also free up employees to provide other more individual services that can convert part of the supermarket space into a more interactive environment, similar to a market, where cooking demonstrations are given or fresh food is prepared. The idea is to make a trip to the supermarket an entertaining, social event. But is it really possible to turn the generally tedious chore of the weekly grocery shop into a fun, lifestyle activity?

Now answer the questions in the Comprehension section.

Comprehension: Check your understanding

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Interview: listen to more about the topic

Think about your answers to the following questions. Then listen to somebody answering the same questions. Were your answers similar?

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