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NYC grocers adopt new technology to enhance social distancing

Two supermarkets in Manhattan are using a solution that combines indoor GPS with mobile checkout to minimize shopping time and reduce social interactions.

Westside Market (Broadway and 98th St.) and Fairway Market (240 East 86th St) have implemented SIRL’s ("Search in Real Life") technology, which navigates shoppers to within inches of their desired products. The tool has been combined with FutureProof Retail, which enables customers to scan items and checkout on their mobile phones. 

The partnership will help protect individuals and their communities by enabling customers to speed through the grocery store during these uncertain times, through a socially distanced and contactless consumer experience, according to SIRL.

SIRL uses a proprietary Bluetooth low energy technology that works on Apple and Android phones through a free-to-download app. It helps shoppers find the items they need inside the store within inches of where it is. The platform can also be used to digitally signal employee help and improve operational efficiency.

“The app offers our customers a more efficient shopping experience,” said Michael Penner, director of retail and technology at Fairway Market. “It saves them time, frustration and money -- and it keeps them coming back. It also allows our employees to be more productive and helpful. They know when and where they are needed, and it makes the experience more rewarding for everyone.”

SIRL has been active in Westside Market for around five months, and has seen a fivefold increase in search usage during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company said. 

“We are delighted by this partnership,” FutureProof Retail president Di Di Chan said. “SIRL’s state of the art navigation is easy to install and maintain for retailers, and their on-site search engine technology really enhances the in-store experience for shoppers. Combined with our mobile checkout application, we offer a complete package to make shopping faster, easier, and safer.”

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