Technology solutions to support UK Supermarkets through a pandemic


With UK supermarkets taking lead in success during the COVID-19 crisis, many food retailers heavily relied on technology to drive efficient processes responding to the digital shift in consumer shopping habits.

According to British supermarket Waitrose & Partners, one in four of the UK consumers shifted to online shopping for groceries at least once a week ‘post pandemic’, doubling the amount seen in 2019. 

Industry Challenges

Workload for many UK supermarket workers grew at its peak due to high demands in productivity within the  distribution and logistics industry as COVID began. Vast requirements were in order to ensure essential daily tools and equipment such as keys for forklifts, assets for hand scanners were promptly available to complete a day’s work with as little delay as possible, meeting the needs of physical and online customers.

E-commerce had been on a steady rise for years, but what had been a gradual climb in demand has been replaced with an abrupt surge, with the rapid growth attributed to COVID-19. At the same time, bucking the general downward trend in physical store visits, supermarkets across the UK have been one of the few areas positively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supermarket Opportunities

By the end of August 2020, more than £1bn investment transactions involving such stores were completed. Sales had been surging at the fastest pace since records began, rising 14.3% in the 12 weeks to 17 May 2020 (and by 17% in the four weeks leading up to mid-May.)

Britain’s seven biggest supermarkets hired at a rapid rate with at least 136,0003 new staff starting since the pandemic began, and the recruitment drive appears set to continue.  All set against the recession and record number of job losses and redundancies, this was welcome news to an ailing economy.

The growing popularity of large stores was in contrast to the situation a couple of years ago, when the rise of discounters in a difficult economic climate, coupled with Brexit uncertainty, was pressing UK retailers and reducing their profitability. However, the use of body-worn cameras has also brought fresh criticism with increasing fears of feeling monitored or adding to the creation of a Big Brother state.

Long queues at supermarkets during COVID

The seismic shift in direction brought by Coronavirus encouraged the ‘weekly shop’ habit, reversing a previous trend towards smaller but more frequent visits to stores. This played to the strength of traditional supermarkets with large car parks, wide ranges and plenty of space for social distancing.


With all this in mind, how can supermarkets continue to meet the needs of the consumer who themselves are establishing the ‘new normal’?

  In our new white paper, we explore;

  • The drivers of the current situation
  • The recent pre-lockdown build up
  • The lockdown experience and
  • The post-pandemic environment