“Smart” Supermarkets!

According to an article published on LInkedIn, Wal-Mart recently opened its first “smart store” supermarket in Xin’an Wu Road, Bao’an District, Shenzhen.

We first read about the “smart supermarket” concept in a piece published by AgThentic, a sustainability and innovation consulting firm focusing on the food industry. In a 2016 article, they referenced the increasing popularity of online grocery shopping and click-and-collect services, and predicted the model was set to change how consumers “will do their weekly shop.”

The article went on to say, “Incorporating predictive technologies into the online shopping experience will allow consumers to access discounts on their favorite brands or re-order the same essential items each week without having to individually add them to a cart. These features have huge implications for convenience… By using data collected from your previous purchases, retailers can understand what you buy and how often you buy it, and send you friendly reminders when you’re running low. Say goodbye to the days of getting halfway home and realizing you forgot to buy toothpaste.”

In addition to helping consumers shop with ease, these same practices are also beneficial to supermarkets as they look to manage inventory and reduce food waste. “Consumers expect to see an overstocked display of cosmetically attractive produce,” the article said.  “To compensate, supermarkets throw out up to 40% of food before it even reaches store shelves.”

AgThentic predicted  retailers of the future will use consumer data to understand how to market and sell ‘unattractive’ or ‘imperfect’ produce, citing examples in Australia that are already doing so.

Read the full article…

Buy a Car at Walmart?

Continuing a trend of expanding its product offerings, Walmart has progressed from standard “retail” products to food to pharmacy and, now, to cars!

A recent SupermarketNews article reported that Walmart has expanded their CarSaver program with car-buying kiosks in 250 stores.

As you may know, CarSaver is a digital automotive marketplace based in Miami, Florida. The program leverages CarSaver’s network of certified dealerships, banks and insurance companies to support its car ­shopping and buying assistance to Walmart customers.

According to the article, every vehicle bought through a CarSaver kiosk at participating Walmart stores also comes with a lifetime warranty.

The article went on to quote Daniel Eckert, senior vice president of Walmart Services and Digital Acceleration, “We’re constantly looking for innovative services that help us save busy families money and time. CarSaver’s unique platform helps our customers understand the true cost of ownership, while also helping them save money with buying, financing, leasing and insuring a new or used vehicle.”

According to a report in Adweek, CarSaver uses its car dealer network to provide a better customer experience, including upfront pricing.

Read the full article…

6 Food Trends for 2018

According to a recent article by fooddive.com, some of last year’s food trends such as healthy ingredients, complex flavor profiles and environmentally sustainable offerings will once again shape the food industry this year.

Their “top 6” predictions with respect to consumer demand this year are:

  1. Botanicals: Plants and flowers are springing up in food and beverage items as more consumers become interested in their potential healing properties.
  2. Transparency: Shoppers will continue to grow more interested in where their food comes from and how it was handled along the supply chain.
  3. Ethnic cuisine: Spicy flavors do well in the U.S., and many shoppers are exploring beyond basic hot sauces as food makers highlight more authentic, ethnic flavors.
  4. Science-based foods: A few futuristic products are already in stores and restaurants, and more will soon be on the way as companies work to develop and scale up state-of-the-art foods to meet the public’s growing appetite for these innovations.
  5. Sustainability: This trend has moved beyond merely producing food in an environmentally conscious ways and selling it in recyclable packaging.
  6. Indulgence foods: Comfort foods containing butter, lard and other fats and oils will be back in style.

Read the full article…

Kroger in the News Again: New Technology You Might Love!

According to a recent Business Insider article, Kroger is once again taking a bold step forward in trying to enhance the customer shopping experience by “rolling out a new technology to nearly 200 stores,that could change grocery shopping as we know it.”

This new development, which is called Kroger Edge, will be installed on store shelves in place of paper price tags, and will digitally display pricing and nutritional information, and even show video ads and coupons for various products.

The technology will enable the chain to instantly change prices and activate promotions across its stores, thus freeing up employees who would otherwise change prices by hand.

In the future, the technology will communicate with customers’ smartphones to help them complete their shopping lists.

Kroger Opens Culinary Innovation Center – Improving CX!

A recent SupermarketNews article reported that The Kroger Co. opened a Culinary Innovation Center, which includes a commercial kitchen with multiple cooking stations, spaces and capabilities, along with technology that allows video streaming of educational sessions to Kroger associates across the country.

The renovations to the two-story brick building in downtown Cincinnati totaled $2.5 million, the article said.

“Kroger’s new Culinary Innovation Center is an exciting state-of-the-art test kitchen and education center,” said Daniel Hammer, vice president of culinary development and new business at Kroger.

“As we focus on redefining the customer experience and developing talent through food inspiration and uplift, as outlined in Restock Kroger, this R&D lab will allow us to accelerate product development for Our Brands, produce new recipes for Prep + Pared Meal Kits, explore new restaurant concepts, host food tastings and focus groups, and increase our associates’ culinary knowledge.”

Read the full article…

On-line Food Retail Continues to Gain Momentum

A recent SupermarketNews article reported that Target will begin offering same-day delivery to customers in three metro areas—Boston, Miami and Minneapolis—starting Feb. 1.

The move comes following the retailer’s December acquisition of Shipt, the article said.

The article went on to say that online retail is picking up speed at an even faster rate than previously thought, and that both Food Marketing Institute and Nielsen data suggest 70% of consumers will shop for groceries online by 2024.

The trend toward on-line shopping is a strong one for sure, but supermarkets by-and-large have significantly improved the level of customer service and the in-store shopping experience.

The question is, how can they combine the two “experiences” to build stronger levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty?

Read the full article…

What trends will shape grocery retail in 2018?

From immersive retail experiences to demand for hyper-local sourcing, here are their predictions for the top five trends that will shape grocery retailing in 2018:

HTTPS://WWW.FOODNAVIGATOR.COM/ARTICLE/2017/12/18/WHAT-TRENDS-WILL-SHAPE-GROCERY-RETAIL-IN-2018 

Top 10 2017 Industry Disruptors

Events or actions that had a significant impact on the retail food business this past year, as published by SupermarketNews:

  1. Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods Market
  2. German discounter Lidl entering the U.S. market
  3. The granularity of data and the speed with which it can be converted into insights and action
  4. The new position of Chief Digital Officer, reflecting the desire to find new ways to enhance the customer experience in the modern shopping environment
  5. The proposed mega-merger between CVS and health insurance provider Aetna
  6. Private label growth — a marked boom in store brands
  7. Plant-based alternatives to dairy: 58% of adults now drink non-dairy milk
  8. 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
  9. 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

Sam Walton & the 5th “P”

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.

Read more… 

Food Waste!

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.