Events or actions that had a significant impact on the retail food business this past year, as published by SupermarketNews:
- Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods Market
- German discounter Lidl entering the U.S. market
- The granularity of data and the speed with which it can be converted into insights and action
- The new position of Chief Digital Officer, reflecting the desire to find new ways to enhance the customer experience in the modern shopping environment
- The proposed mega-merger between CVS and health insurance provider Aetna
- Private label growth — a marked boom in store brands
- Plant-based alternatives to dairy: 58% of adults now drink non-dairy milk
- The hyperactive hurricane season disrupted retail operation in the gulf-and-south regions, and also demonstrated how adept food retailers have become at responding to natural disasters
- Blockchain technology, which is designed to provide real-time, public information on food products as they travel through the supply chain from producer to store
Channel 3, which is a new platform where retailers and brands encourage customers to visit stores more frequently and spend more when they’re there. Read the story
In a recent article published by the International Speaker’s Bureau, author Michael Berghdahl referenced Sam Walton’s retail success, noting that Walton intuitively knew that retail marketing is all about the “4-P’s,” which are having the right products, price, placement, and promotion.
However, the article goes on to say that Sam Walton knew the “4 P’s” were not enough; that he was not satisfied to simply apply traditional methods, but rather always out to do more… to try new ideas.
“You might say he [Sam Walton] embraced change like a welcomed friend,” Berghahl wrote. “Never complacent, he sought ways to improve every aspect of the Walmart success formula each and every day.”
As part of this approach to continuous improvement, Walton figured out the key to creating a sustainable competitive advantage in the retail marketplace was by adding a “5th P” to his success formula: PEOPLE. Success required fully-engaged people working together as a high performing team, and serving his customers.
This perspective is consistent with the latest research on the critical importance and value of an engaged workforce.
But beware! Traditional efforts to engage employees have not been fruitful!! These unsuccessful attempts have been haphazard at best, and have largely focused on trying to make employees happy. Unfortunately, research and experience has proved that happy workers are not necessarily more productive workers.
Clearly a more strategic approach to engagement is needed, yet few retailers or organizations of any type have a formalized engagement strategy.
If you would like to create such a strategy, here are ten behaviors you might initiate, which are based on research and experience that shows productive employees tend to be engaged employees, not the other-way-around.
In a recent video report, Phil Lempert, “Supermarket Guru,” referenced a United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization statement indicating one-third of food gets spoiled or wasted.
That translates to approximately $1 trillion per year, or double the dollar volume of the grocery industry as a whole!
As you are most likely aware, to reduce food waste we have to control environmental conditions including temperature, moisture levels, and UV exposure all across the supply chain including on shoppers homes.
The Spoon reports that a group of researchers led by Giovanni Salvatore at ETH Zurich have developed a biocompatible microsensor that can be directly applied to food and is safe to eat. The sensor is made from a combination of edible materials such as magnesium and a compostable polymer made with corn and food starch.
But there is a problem – making them is currently very expensive, compared to pennies or even fractions of pennies for traditional RFID tags.
However, Salvatore predicts that these biodegradable sensors will be part of our everyday lives within 5 to 10 years.
While Kroeger has been in the news lately for considering the sale of its convenience stores, the new “Restock Kroger” improvement initiative seems to be the bigger story. It will involve “an accelerated and more data-driven effort around pricing, personalized communications with customers, and a revamp of product assortments,” the article said.
“We will change the way people eat in the U.S.,” said Rodney McMullen, chairman and CEO. “If you are eating, we want to serve you. Unless you are eating in a white tablecloth restaurant, we want to be able to provide that meal for you.”
Read the full article…
According to a recent posting on techcrunch.com, Walmart has announced that it will begin testing a new service that will allow customers with August smart home devices, like the August doorbell and security cameras, to have their packages and groceries delivered inside their home instead of left on the doorstep. Grocery orders won’t just be placed inside the house like the packages, but will be put away in the fridge and freezer, when appropriate.
The retailer says it will soon start this test in the Silicon Valley area with select customers who have opted into to try the new service.
Sounds like continuous process improvement and the trend toward innovative customer service continues!
Read the full story…
A recent video and report by Phil Lempert, founder of supermarketguru.com, shared information about “Tally,” a robot that will be working the aisles at Schnucks looking for items that are out of stock and checking on prices.
The robot is being tested at a store in the Richmond Heights area of St. Louis, the article says. A second will be tested at another store in the Kirkwood area. The tests are expected to last about six weeks.
Tally weighs about 30 pounds and stands at 38 inches tall and has sensors to avoid bumping into things like shoppers and carts. It scans the shelves and notifies the store personnel when quantities are running low.
A new component of the digital trend?
A recent “10 Items or Less” article posted by SupermarketNews identified steps taken by major food retailers that indicate the focus on e-shopping will continue to grow in 2017.
The article states that Wal-Mart Stores plans to have around 1,100 stores offering online grocery pickup this year, and that they are continuing with initiatives built around making fulfillment more versatile and/or efficient, such as offering discounts on online orders picked up in stores, and testing the idea of having store employees deliver orders to customer’s homes on their post-work commutes.
The piece goes on to report that Amazon said it was rolling out “Instant Pickup,” a free service offering its Prime members a curated selection of “daily essentials” available for pickup in two minutes or less. The service is available at five campus locations currently with plans to add more locations soon.
Even no-frills Aldi had issued a statement indicating it was getting into e-commerce for the first time through a partnership with Instacart in three cities.
“Our partnership with Instacart is another example of Aldi expanding our commitment to customer convenience and value,” Jason Hart, CEO of Aldi, said. “We know customers are looking for new ways to save time and money.”
As these new services are being rolled-out, it strikes me that supermarket chains will need to take an innovative approach to refining their work processes to reduce waste and cost.
See related article…about becoming more innovative.
A recent SupermarketNews article shared some interesting insights into how grocery shoppers are making decisions with respect to making healthier choices.
The primary factors influencing these “at the shelf” decisions include:
- Concerns about impact on personal health/well-being
- Desire to know exactly what ingredients go into their food
- Environmental impacts
- Do not want to support suppliers that use of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s)
While the study also showed an increasing number of shoppers relying on online-only retailers, (a trend led by Millennials), they’re selecting a narrow range of products online, such as household cleaning products, and continue to buy fresh bakery and produce items in-store.
The Seattle Times recently published an interesting and entertaining article, which referenced the announcement made late last year by Amazon.com regarding the launch of an experimental convenience store in downtown Seattle where customers could skip the checkout line.
While the concept was presented as futuristic and technologically innovative, a French retail chain, Monoprix, took issue with that depiction.
As the video showcased within the article explains (in a clever and somewhat humorous way), “Monoprix’s “Livraison à domicile +,” is their 10-year-old service that also allows shoppers skip the checkout lines – via a different form of innovation.
What’s old is new!