It could be five to 10 years before the supermarket of the future, as envisioned by designers and marketers, is common. But those experts believe it’s a matter of when, not if. Here's what you might find in the supermarket of the future. (The numbers in the illustration above correspond to the information below.)

1. Easy checkout. In-store sensors connected to a smart­phone app keep track of each item you select. The app runs a tally. It also cross-checks your list or selected recipes to tell you what you forgot. As you exit, the app charges your mobile-payment system.

2. Curbside pickup. Order from your smartphone or computer. A staffer loads your bagged order directly into your car, within your chosen time window. Or you can request home delivery.


3. Smaller spaces. Newer stores will be smaller, with more space devoted to fresh produce, as well as deli and prepared items, and less space to interior aisles of branded package goods.

4. ‘How may I help?’ Trained “concierges” wander aisles in the supermarket of the future like boutique salespeople, offering meal-prep ideas and other suggestions. As you wander, store sensors connected to your smartphone trigger recommendations, too.

5. Grab and go. Meal kits, rotisserie chickens, and other prepared foods are near the front, where you can buy them in a hurry. Or have whole meals prepared fresh to order while you shop.

6. A feast of info. Sensors in the supermarket of the future, detecting that you’ve picked up an item, launch a display showing nutritional data, possible recipes and food pairings, information on where and how the food was grown or raised, and even the farm’s labor and animal-welfare practices.

7. Dynamic spaces. Movable walls, shelves, and fixtures can be configured to create an area for cooking demonstrations and tastings by day, a casual bistro by night. Older markets, removing interior shelves permanently, fill the space with fresh-fare “grocerants.”

8. Virtual choices. Rather than encountering a dozen brands of Dijon mustard, you might find four, plus a screen you can scroll through to order one of the eight other varieties, which the store keeps in stock out of sight. The screen recognizes your smartphone and proposes new products to try. Your picks are delivered to you at checkout or directly to your home.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the July 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine. (Information for this article was provided by Tré Musco, Tesser; and David Donnan, A.T. Kearney.)