The Appus team recently attended Unified Expo 2017. This event was put on by Supervalu in Long Beach, California. This year was a celebration year of this exhibition. It ushered in its 40th anniversary with a new name and under a new administration after the recent merger of Supervalu and Unified Grocers. This year, the exhibition was attended by more than 1,000 participants offering products and services as a part of the food industry and retail trade enterprises.


Unified Expo


Unified Expo 2017


The Expo first began in 1977, when Certified Grocers of California began to organize events for the purpose of uniting sellers and traders to meet the needs of stores for the products and services of food companies. This event was originally known as show-bucks.

Today the Unified Expo is a large-scale exhibition where retailers and representatives of the food industry can meet with one another, get acquainted with the new trends and innovations in this industry, and make advantageous deals. This is beneficial to both parties since the marketers get an opportunity to develop their business and increase their income while sellers can find new customers and increase their presence in new markets and sales. This is where new companies can get an opportunity to present their brands and get a good start on development.


Appus participation in Expo 2017


Appus in Unified Expo 2017


It was a big challenge for the Appus team to take part in the Expo since this show is mainly intended for retailers. However, IT technologies cover many different areas and are more than relevant for retail and supply chain industries. That's why Appus created a prototype of a new and better user experience for supermarket shoppers based on augmented reality.

The basic idea of our prototype is quite simple: a mobile app that builds a path through the supermarket based on the user’s grocery list. Using your list, the app will build a detailed plan with directions for the most optimal path through the store, allowing you to more quickly and efficiently shop for your meats, vegetables, beverages, etc. And to ensure you don’t forget anything on your list, the augmented reality will display user shelves with all your required items.

Our prototype is based on the iOS 11 augmented reality feature; and to make it work, we first have to build a 3D model of the supermarket. Every booth and shelf in the supermarket must be displayed on the map and the distance between objects must be perfectly matched and scalable. After the map is completed, the mobile device will calibrate the map in accordance with the actual store, then the user can create a grocery list. When the list is completed, the mobile app engine will build the most optimal path through the supermarket and the directions will appear on the user’s iPhone or iPad screen in real time. A pin will appear above each shelf that contains items specified in the grocery list to make sure that the user can find it.

How the prototype works: 


Another benefit of our prototype is that it can show quite detailed statistics of the most visited shelves in the store. We strongly recommend using at least two beacons for each shelf so that users’ mobile devices can be easily located. This is how it works: users walk through the whole supermarket searching for items to buy. Beacons receive signals from the users’ phones and send this data to the server. We can then build an interactive map showing which beacons get more signals from users’ phones, marking it in various colors. This feature is a good opportunity for merchandisers and supermarket marketing staff to obtain useful statistics for their products. The map of the store’s most visited shelves looks like this:


Screenshot of app prototype


In conclusion 


We are grateful to our partners for the opportunity to participate in Expo 2017 and to demonstrate our idea to such a large number of visitors. This business trip was successful.

Our prototype was seen as a good idea for the future of the supermarket experience and many visitors really liked it. Of course, we still have a lot of work to do, as shoppers may find it inconvenient to keep their phone in their hand while grocery shopping. We also have some more ideas regarding supermarket 3D model builder updates to make online changes on the map possible with just a few clicks. For example, new shelves may be added, or existing ones may be changed. The Appus team is proud of this product and we will definitely provide an update on an existing prototype with iOS 11 release.