One of the most difficult thing about buying groceries online, especially produce, is not knowing exactly what you’re buying. Walmart hopes to solve that pain point.
In a recent patent filing, consumers will be able to view real images of their groceries — rather than stock images — before purchasing online, According to a report by CB Insights.
The system is called the “Fresh Online Experience” (FOE). The customer orders an item based on a stock photo, then a store associate scans the exact item in Walmart’s inventory and sends it to the customer. The customer would receive a notification to approve or reject the scan of the “first actual fresh item” within a fixed amount of time. If the scan of the first apple is rejected, the communications module will notify the store associate to scan an “additional actual fresh item” for approval.
Customers would be allowed a fixed number of attempts to approve the scan of additional fresh items (so that the associate doesn’t have to select and reselect apples in perpetuity). When the limit is reached, the customer would be presented a list of the images they’d already seen, and be prompted to pick one or remove the apple from the order.
The system then places an “edible watermark” on the item selected by the consumer before the goods are delivered.
As reported in RetailDive, a study from Nielsen last year found more than half of customers worldwide have purchased clothes, books and music online. In comparison, less than a quarter of consumers have bought packaged or fresh groceries online.
That figure is expected to rise – Nielsen predicts that in 10 years, 60% of U.S. households will buy food online.