The Next-Generation Supermarket

January 14th, 2024

By Natalie Dookie

Rajiv Diptee, President, The Supermarket Association of Trinidad and Tobago (SATT)

Rajiv Diptee
The Supermarket Association of Trinidad and Tobago (SATT)

The supermarket of the future – this cutting-edge concept will combine traditional brick-and-mortar stores with efficient, convenient, enjoyable shopping experiences.

Digital disruption in the supermarket

Are supermarkets harnessing digital trends to expand market share? According to Diptee, “During the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw the introduction of apps, websites, e-commerce, and curbside pickup. However, Trinidad and Tobago’s shopping culture is based around brick-and-mortar institutions; customers want to see, touch, and inspect the products. Today the appetite is not there, and some stores are discontinuing these services.” In other technological advancements, SATT expects to see the rise of the digital wallet in the next five years, although it is still being determined how this will impact unbanked customers. On the back end, many supermarkets use IT-based inventory solutions to ensure the efficacy of stock rooms and warehouses, working closely with suppliers and distributors to manage Just-in-Time product inventory.

The impact of your choices

In recent years, Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) have become the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Trinidad and Tobago. “Members of the SATT consistently implement health education programmes in collaboration with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). There has been growth in the establishment of dedicated health food aisles and health food corners.” While every member of the SATT feels a deep sense of responsibility to the environment, unfortunately, single-use plastics remain the most cost-effective solution available. “There are costs associated with going green; the packaging is more expensive. On a positive note, however, many supermarkets encourage the use of reusable shopping bags, and our members also support wider national environmental campaigns.”

Rethinking the customer experience

Modern supermarkets in Trinidad and Tobago have large car parks, wide aisles, and sizeable non-food lines. They also often study and adapt to changing consumer behaviours. “Supermarkets aim to provide improved customer experiences, including seasonal promotions and entertainment. There are increased contests, giveaways, deals and discounts, and the growing use of social media influencers in marketing. Trinidad and Tobago is one of the most competitive islands in the retail food space in Latin America and the Caribbean. Therefore, we must be prepared to take advantage of trends in a hyper-reactive environment.” The supermarket of the future will be a familiar place, Diptee reflects. “Neighbourhood supermarkets provide affordability and employment. They represent the heartbeat of the community and the largest trade volume. The soul of a supermarket is what the owners and the staff put into it. There are some well-loved institutions in this country.”