Connecting the Customer for a Better Supermarket Shopping Experience

Dick Boer, chief executive officer of the Dutch-based retailer Ahold, set a strategy he called “reshaping retail” that contemplated using Ahold’s local brands with its global size and scale to grow behind shopper demands for convenience and value.

“Connecting the customer is the most important thing supermarkets can do,” said Boer. As evidence, according to a recent Supermarket News article the company last year began building dedicated pick-up points to aid efficient delivery and convenience for its shoppers. In 2014, Ahold will open a 300,000-square-foot semi-automated warehouse in Jersey City, N.J., that will help to bring more efficiency — and the expectation for a substantial increase in volume — to fulfilling Internet and mobile orders.

In the Northeast, Ahold has generally been picking orders using “warerooms” — auxiliary space at selected Stop & Shop stores — to fulfill Internet orders. Some Stop & Shop stores in New England have also been “completely digitized” allowing shoppers to shop, scan and pay with their mobile phones.

The article goes on to explain that Ahold’s focus on online shopping is a response to what Boer feels is a major shift in consumer behavior, brought about by the growing prominence of the Internet and mobile devices, and by changes in the food retail landscape resulting in greater competition for sales.

But the changes are not only sparking investment in Ahold’s online business and customer loyalty efforts, but also in the value proposition at physical stores, which to Boer means improved fresh departments, price reductions where necessary, and a tiered private-label strategy allowing customers to “shop with the wallet you have.”

Either way, this is a good example of the effort required to evolve and meet the emerging demands of today’s supermarket shopper.