While we may not have Food-a-Rac-a-Cycles yet, “Supermarkets of the Future” appear closer than ever before. Why? For one thing, “Grocers are struggling to lure e-commerce-loving millennials into their aisles amid what experts say is a permanent shift in shopping patterns among consumers,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “Baby boomers used to bring long grocery lists to supermarkets and club stores. Now shoppers in their 20s and 30s are visiting supermarkets less frequently than their parents, government records and survey data show. They are spreading purchases across new options, including online grocery services such as AmazonFresh, beefed-up convenience stores and stronger food offerings from omnibus retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp.”

And those always connected millennials seem to want things ever faster and more efficient.

Amazon, in a nod to this, tipped the apple cart with its “Just Walk Out” Seattle store, providing a checkout-free shopping experience incorporating computer vision and sensor fusion. Customers can use an Amazon Go app to enter the store, take what they want and leave with their Amazon account charged accordingly.

Now Amazon’s recent $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods is causing tremors within the industry, leaving some to wonder if brick-and-mortar grocery retailers will hit the checkout lane themselves one day.

That shakeup twill surely cause brands to rethink how they market to consumers. “If on-shelf diminishes as a point of engagement for the consumer, marketers will employ other mediums at other points of engagement – billboards, TV, online and social – to tout their brand’s points of difference,” says Keith Manzella, Group Creative Director at e|wmg.

But if supermarket shelves are rendered irrelevant, where does that leave the role of packaging? Good design, of course, is meant to capture your attention at shelf, to sell attributes over those of the competition…it’s the brand’s last chance to make sure you pick up that package instead of the one next to it.

Manzella notes that good package design will remain paramount. Why? “In the future, packages may be primarily seen as small thumbnails in a shopping app; therefore, brands that adopt a simplified, iconic design will be more easily recognized and stand out the most in a mobile ‘shelf’ environment.”

So even if we’ll all be ordering up groceries online one day; even if Amazon turns supermarkets into simple distribution centers helmed by Rosey the Robot; even if drones take the place of delivery people, good package design will remain a tried and true formula for having the consumer return to the same brand again and again.

As the future will no doubt see further waves of disruption across industries, at e|wmg, we know that it’s more important than ever to have marketing foresight and expertise when it comes to seizing opportunities in evolving trends and behaviors – and adapting to unseen curves in the road ahead.

That’s why we expertly integrate foresight, strategy, creativity, data, analytics and technology to deliver impactful package design and seamless omnichannel solutions that generate meaningful brand connections and maximize customer value now and in the future.

Now if somebody could just invent a Food-a-Rac-a-Cycle!