DogSpot at the Supermarket?

Happy Pets?

In case you haven’t heard, a DogSpot is a “smart sidewalk sanctuary, providing your dog a safe and cozy home away from home while you briefly go somewhere they aren’t allowed… without having to take risks like tying them up or leaving them in the car. “

According to a recent SupermarketNews article, Albertsons has become the latest supermarket chain to offer DogSpot. Other chains that have been testing the concept include Kroger and Stop & Shop.

“At Albertsons, we are always looking for ways to better serve our customers,” said John Colgrove, Albertsons intermountain division president.

DogSpot houses are app-connected and available on both iPhone and Android, offering customers quick and seamless access, according to the Brooklyn-based startup. Customers may reserve a house up to 15 minutes before use through the app if they’re anticipating a trip to the store or use an available house immediately upon arrival. The houses lock to allow only the customer’s specific app account access to the house while their dog is inside, to ensure the dog’s safety while the customer shops. They’re also temperature controlled with fresh air ventilation to keep an optimal temperature inside for the dog and equipped with UVC lights that sanitize the house automatically between each new session. Customers can monitor their dog through the DogSpot app’s puppy-cam feature while they shop. Cost is approximately thirty-cents per minute.

Another example of enhancing the shopping experience with higher levels of customer service and engagement!

Surprise Ranking for Top 3 Retailers in the U.S.!

We all know that Walmart and Amazon are “the” major retailers in America and, as noted in a recent msn.com article, they were rated first and second, respectively, in Kantar Consulting’s ranking of the top 50 U.S. retailers of 2018.

What was surprising, though, was the identity of the third-place winner. America’s third-biggest retailer is a grocery store!

Possibly you’ve already surmised that the third-place finisher on the list of top retailers in the country is Kroger! As the article states, lots of folks say that shopping at Kroger is a pleasure! The chain consists of just over four thousand stores in 42 states, and its headquarters are in Cincinnati. It is a low-priced grocery store that’s most popular in mid-western, mid-Atlantic, and southeastern states.

But of all things, Kroger is known most for its high level of customer service. It’s nice to see an organization that is customer-focused also be among the top in their trade!

Added Focus on Customer Preferences at Giant

Giant Food Stores, a chain that operates in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia under the Giant and Martin’s banners, has been taking a more personalized approach to improving its loyalty program.

According to a recent SupermarketNews article, they have been testing an enhanced program that focuses on providing a more personalized customer experience, more paths to rewards, and a more engaging digital experience.

The article goes on to quote Giant President Nick Bertram as saying, ““We have been trying a lot of different things to connect closer to customers… we’ve partnered with our sister company PDL [Peapod Digital Labs] to try to get more digitally savvy… it was time to start changing and get ready for the way families are shopping now.”

Sounds like a good example of decision-making based on customer service and the overall shopping experience, which one would think should lead to greater levels of customer engagement and loyalty.

Innovation at H-E-B!

A recent SupermarketNews article reported that H-E-B has opened a state-of-the-art technology center in East Austin, Texas, that will serve as a “hub of innovation” for its digital team and Favor delivery service.

The article quoted Jag Bath, chief digital officer of H-E-B and CEO of Favor, who said, “The center will play an essential role in keeping both Favor and H-E-B as digital leaders.”

As we have previously shared, innovation and technology have become driving forces in the food industry. As summarized in an article posted on bouncepad.com, grocery shopping as we know it is shifting. Retailers are leveraging technology to target issues consumers have struggled with for years, now offering online shopping and home-delivery along with related offerings geared toward providing more convenience for busy shoppers.

In-store experiences have also begun to mold to the modern consumer, using integrated technology solutions and secure touch-points like tablet enclosures, which help supermarkets with cross-sell services, offer personalized deals, guide shoppers around the store and increase sales.

Click here for a slide show featuring H-E-B’s new technology center.

Raley’s Innovative Approach to Managing Shrink

Raley’s, a West Coast supermarket chain, has implemented Date Check Pro from Pinpoint Software Inc. to better manage shrink.

In a recent SupermarketNews article it was reported that Raley’s adopted the system after determining that a technology-based solution supporting inventory management would aid ongoing efforts to provide customers with the freshest and highest-quality products. Previously the chain took a more operational approach to flag out-of-code items by bolstering team member training and auditing processes to best manage disposal of expiring products.

Date Check Pro provides real-time updates and proactive notifications on close-dated inventory, establishing more consistency and accountability versus traditional rotation and spot-checking methods, in which out-of-date items can be missed by human error, according to Raley’s. In turn, the grocery chain said it’s able to ensure that it’s offering shoppers the freshest products and recoup savings on what would have been expired shrink

New Level of Customer Service Goes “Beyond” Home Delivery of Groceries

Walmart is expanding the online grocery shopping experience by going “beyond” home delivery. According to a recent SupermarketNews article, certain Walmart stores are delivering groceries not just to more homes, but also inside them.

This new service will be launching in the fall when associates will deliver groceries right to a customer’s refrigerator, or to other designated areas inside shoppers’ homes, such as garages or pantries. Various methods are incorporated into the process to ensure security and to allow customers to actually view the delivery from remote locations.

“Online grocery remains a meaningful contributor to e-commerce growth,” Walmart’s Chief Financial Officer Brett Biggs is quoted to say in the article. “Customers continue to really appreciate our grocery pickup and delivery offerings as we scale them across the U.S., …they want product faster than ever before, and Walmart is the best-positioned in the industry to deliver grocery same-day.”

Unique Customer Service at Stew Leonard’s

While their approach to customer service and providing an enjoyable shopping experience may be anything but traditional, Stew Leonard’s has a tried-and-true motto: “The customer is always right!”

As reported in a recent SupermarketNews article, there are aisles filled with animatronic singing poultry and vegetables, stuffed creatures that flip, and a selfie station where customers can pose for pictures with Clover the cow in a replica of Stew’s milk truck.

Yesterday & Today
For those who have been customers over the years, these “extras” are common place. Ever since the first Stew Leonard’s opened in 1969 they’ve been tabbed as “the Disneyland of Dairy Stores.” Today the grocery still relishes the country-fair atmosphere.

But the zaniness has not compromised how vital customer service and product scouting are to the growing company. (There are now six Stew Leonard’s locations now in New York and Connecticut, with a seventh planned for New Jersey in the fall).

“Customers rule when it comes to choosing what products the stores sell,” says Stew Leonard, Jr., the president and CEO who took the business over from his dad in the 1990s. “You’ve got to listen to the customers really and hear what they have to say.”

Read the full article…

3 Strategies for Attracting “Moms” to the Supermarket

As Mother’s Day Approaches, a study showed that most moms prefer to shop at the supermarket versus online.

According to research recently completed by Valassis Communications, Inc., a Livonia, Michigan-based company that provides media and marketing services, when it comes to food purchases, 52% of moms do most or all of their shopping in-store, compared to 27% of dads. But when it comes to health and beauty care items (HBC), only 36% of moms opt for brick-and-mortar, compared to 24% of dads. Equally as revealing, the study showed that over half of moms want better solutions to save more time (53%) and money (58%).

A recent SupermarketNews article reported these findings, and also suggested three key strategies supermarket chains might consider in order to continue attracting “moms” to their brick-and-mortar locations:

  1. Provide a mix of savings and convenience. Over one in three moms are increasingly shopping via brick-and-mortar that offer the added convenience of delivery and pickup options. Just over half (51%) always or very often search online for coupons they can use during their shopping trips.
  2. Appeal to the evolving omni-channel shopper. As the digital and physical environments continue to blend, approximately one in five moms orders groceries online for delivery or in-store pickup. And as technology continues to integrate with the path to purchase, over one in four moms now use a smartphone app to scan barcodes as they shop, according to Valassis.
  3. Offer unique experiences. More than a third of moms (36%) have increased their shopping at stores that offer prepared foods/meals versus last year. The same percentage say they are doing more shopping at stores that focus on organic, natural and fresh products compared to last year.

E-Commerce Challenges for Supermarkets

A recent Wall Street Journal article reported that E-commerce is transforming the grocery business, “bringing-about the need to overhaul operations and invest heavily in technology and talent to keep customers from straying to Amazon.com Inc. ”

“Not since Walmart Inc. first pushed into groceries in the late 1980s have traditional chains faced so many challenges,” the article states.

As an example, Kroger, a long-term, consistently successful chain, stayed focused on store sales long after competitors were investing in online-ordering technology and delivery services. But, according to the article, company leadership has recognized they are behind and have crafted a plan for more rapid transition to keep up with consumer preferences.

The article goes on to note that few American retailers have managed the online transition smoothly, citing early struggles experienced by Target and Walmart before improving their e-commerce operations, and the demise of Sears Holdings Corporation and Toys “R” Us in 2018.

This perspective is consistent with that of our previous post, noting that, while still in growth mode, the on-line grocery shopping experience requires improvement. It will be interesting to see how Kroger and other traditional chains address the emerging demand for online shopping while still satisfying the more traditional demand for low prices as well as a “unique” in-store shopping experience.