Inventory Issues Costing Supermarkets Dearly

SupermarketNews recently reported that, despite internal systems improvements, retailers continue to struggle with labor and supplier issues, costing North American supermarkets over $349 billion in total sales lossesmdue to out-of-stocks and overstocks.

Reports of consumer discontent are common, with shoppers claiming one-out-of-five items they want to buy are out-of-stock according to new research from analyst firm IHL Group the article said.

“While there have been considerable improvements in systems and processes in recent years, labor challenges and continued supply chain disruptions issues continue to frustrate both consumers and retailers,” said Greg Buzek, President of IHL Group. “In addition, challenges from theft, mistakes by employees, and spoilage cause retailer’s inventory counts to be off as much as 25%, resulting in consumers having a shopping experience where they left the stores without buying 1 in every 5 items they planned to buy.”

Ouch!

You can read the full article here.

Kroger Growing Grocery Sales With Spokes

A recent SupermarketNews article reported that Kroger is continuing to grow e-commerce through expansion and by leveraging technology.

The article said two more automated “spoke” supporting facilities have been opened as “The Kroger Co. continues to build out its e-commerce network driven by Ocado Group technology, a Canada based firm.

As you may know, the spokes serve as a last-mile cross-dock sites for online grocery delivery and help extend the reach of delivery service. The hub and spoke model refers to a distribution method in which a centralized “hub” exists. Everything either originates in the hub or is sent to the hub for distribution to consumers. From the hub, goods travel outward to smaller locations owned by the company, called spokes, for further processing and distribution.

“The continued expansion of the Kroger fulfillment network means improved access to fresh food for customers eager for the variety and value offered by Kroger that once could only be accessed through our stores,” Gabriel Arreaga, senior vice president and chief supply chain officer at Kroger, said in a statement. “This network enables Kroger to add scale, achieve reliability of experience, gain from the benefits of automation and ultimately widen our customer reach in current operating regions and new parts of the U.S.”

PBH to Connect Produce Industry With Retail Dietitians, Foodservice Leaders

According to a recent Progressive Grocer article, the  Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) will bring a number of retail dietitians and foodservice leaders to its 2022 Retail & Foodservice Immersion Event in October.

Adding a new twist to past practices, PBH will “include a group of foodservice leaders to further support the produce industry’s need to meet consumers where they are influenced to choose fruits and vegetables at the point of purchase.”

Retail and foodservice leaders will also have access to the latest produce innovations and new consumer research, along with tools to spur new fruit and vegetable consumption habits among customers.

“PBH is thrilled to be back in person supporting one of the industry’s largest trade shows, as well as connecting produce companies directly with consumers through the various points of influence – including at the point-of-sale (retail) and at the point-of-flavor (culinary and foodservice),” noted Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, president and CEO of Brentwood, Mo.-based PBH, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. “The goal of this signature PBH event is to provide retail and foodservice leaders with actionable education and intimate networking experiences that inspire them to get creative with fruits and vegetables and take back ideas and solutions that help drive produce consumption and purchases in their stores, in e-commerce and in dining establishments nationwide.”

Participating retailers are:

  • Big Y Foods
  • Coborn’s, Fresh Thyme
  • The Giant Co.,
  • Harmons Grocery Stores
  • H-E-B
  • The Kroger Co.
  • Loblaws
  • Natural Grocers
  • Rouses, ShopRite-Inserra Supermarkets Inc.
  • Stop & Shop
  • United Supermarket
  • Wegmans Food Markets
  • Weis Markets

Read the full article…

USDA Supporting SNAP Online Grocery Shopping

A recent SupermarketNews article reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is launching a $5 million competitive grant program to help expand the number of retailers that offer recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits online grocery shopping.

Retailers will need to apply to participate in the program, which will provide support with the “technology and systems necessary to enable SNAP e-commerce,” the article said.

The piece went on to explain the objective is to give SNAP participants access a larger diversity of retailers while shopping for groceries online, according to a source at the USDA. The grant is funded by the American Rescue Plan stimulus legislation, enacted last year.

The article then quoted Stacy Dean, deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services at USDA, who released a statement saying, “Online grocery shopping is a vital resource that improves access and convenience for all, including low-income families. We are excited about this grant’s potential to provide new and existing retailers with tools to redeem SNAP benefits in ways that improve customer service for SNAP participants, especially those that face barriers in traveling to a physical store.”

Read the full article…

2022 Top 50

SupermarketNews (SN) recently announced their list of top retailers, which is compiled by SN and TIGD, a leading UK-based analysis and insight organization for the food and consumer goods industry.

You can review their findings in an online gallery, which “showcases the rankings based on sales of the Top 50 food and grocery retailers and wholesalers in the U.S. and Canada, including supermarkets, mass merchandisers, dollar stores, convenience stores and drugstores.”

In the announcement, SN noted that sales figures were based on reports from public retail companies and, in cases of privately owned companies, IGD estimates.

You can access the SN Top 50 Retailers gallery here.

Process Improvement at Kroger Stores Aimed at Better Customer Service

A recent SupermarketNews article announced that the Kroger Co. is working with Itasca Retail, an inventory tech company, to deploy a new software system for receiving deliveries.

The “Magic DSD” solution will be installed in nearly 2,800 Kroger stores enabling a direct-store delivery system that automates various receiving tasks for products such as bread, dairy, beer and soft drinks, which will be delivered directly to the stores rather than to distribution centers.

The piece went on to share a statement that this approach reduces out-of-stocks and saves labor costs, and also gives associates more time to focus on serving customers.

Read the full article…

Walmart Increasing Drone Delivery

A recent SupermarketNews article reported that Walmart plans to roll out more drone delivery options for online orders to six states, encompassing 4 million households via the service.

The piece quoted David Guggina, senior vice president of innovation and automation for Walmart U.S., who said, “Walmart aims to expand DroneUp delivery to 34 sites in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Utah and Virginia by the end of 2022.”

According to the article, once implemented the move will give Walmart the ability to deliver more 1 million packages by drone annually.

In preparation, Walmart had made trial deliveries of COVID-19 home test kits, which demonstrated that drones could provide delivery in minutes rather than hours; and while it was initially expected that consumers would use the service for receiving emergency goods, they’ve found people are using it for the convenience, like a “quick fix for a weeknight meal.”

Another example of leveraging technology to initiate change that enhances online shopping, the customer service and the customer experience.

Supermarkets Among America’s Best Retailers

A recent SupermarketNews article reported several supermarkets have been recognized as being among the country’s best retailers.

Based on a survey of more than 10,000 U.S. consumers who have shopped in-person inside retail stores in the past three years, Newsweek’s 2022 America’s Best Retailers list ranks companies according to five criteria:

  • Products
  • Customer service
  • Atmosphere
  • Accessibility
  • Shop layout

In addition, the survey also asked about the likelihood of the respondent to recommend a retailer to friends and family. Overall, over 150,000 evaluations were collected on retailers in 39 categories. The top three to 10 retailers (based on category size) receiving the highest scores in each category were recognized as America’s Best Retailers for 2022.

Wegmans Food Markets, Publix Super Markets, and Harps Food Stores garnered the top ratings for supermarkets, followed by Sprouts Farmers Market and Whole Foods Market.

Top finishers in the discount supermarket chains list included Trader Joe’s, 99 Cents Only Stores, and Aldi.

Read the full article… 

Will “Pay by Palm” Be the Next Thing?

A recent Progressive Grocer article reported that Austin Texas has become the first region outside the Seattle area where Whole Foods Market is offering Amazon One’s palm recognition service as a payment option.

In order to facilitate an easier and potentially faster check-out process, this new technology enables customers who have enrolled in the program to simply come to the checkout counter or point of sale, hover their hand over the Amazon One device for about a second or so, and the card linked to their palm will be charged for their purchase.

According to the article, “enrollment in the Amazon One service takes less than a minute, which involves linking credit/debit card info and creating palm signatures for one or both palms.”

The piece goes on to explain that a palm signature is created when a customer holds their palm over the Amazon One device, allowing the technology to evaluate multiple aspects of the palm. With no two palms alike, vision technology analyzes all aspects to select the most distinct identifiers on a palm to create a unique palm signature.”

Another example of emerging technology that can improve the grocery shopping experience.

Are Your Stores Future-Proof?

A recent Progressive Grocer article shared data indicating approximately one-third of all retailers are fearful to make any change during these inflationary times.

The piece goes on to point out this issue’s alignment with the late Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen’s “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” a book classic that has helped leaders across many industries better understand how to prepare for and manage disruptions.

The book’s research indicates that the best-managed companies often stumble during disruptions by failing to prepare themselves for future customer demand. As Christensen noted, “these companies – including iconic brands such as Xerox and Sears Roebuck – failed not because they were not well managed, but because the very management practices that have allowed them to become industry leaders also make it difficult for them to develop the disruptive technologies that ultimately steal away their markets… these companies have become hostage to their top customers.”

But retail leaders must also be aware that the pace of change and “technology disruption” might come faster than one thinks. As the article points out, it can be difficult to predict the future or the ever-increasing pace of change.

Further, as Christensen suggests and as others, including Simon Sinek, have warned, it is dangerous to project the future linearly, when in fact technology accelerates exponentially.

The article concludes that, by remaining hostage to one’s best customers today, retailers risk failing to allocate adequate resources to “future-proof” their business, while they have little understanding of how fast customer needs will change. This puts pressure on “late adopters” to react to those changes and adapt their service architecture to meet future needs.