All posts by pdonehue

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.

Retail Grocery Predictions

A recent article published by Progressive Grocer predicts some big changes will take place within the retail food industry this year.

“We believe we’re in for the biggest shift in retail history, revolving around the dramatic change to digital mindsets,” the article said.

“The most important things in retail will become even more important. The things that have always been important to retailers — convenience, value and personalization — will continue to matter. In fact, they’ll matter more than ever. However, the ways that retailers deliver on those three core ideas is ripe for innovation.”

Their predictions for 2022 include:

  • The hybrid in-store and online model will continue to explode because it delivers convenience for shoppers.
  • Bundling will need to be redefined to offer even larger value to customers.
  • Personalized white-glove service will have to expand beyond the in-store experience.
  • As digital transformation accelerates, measuring results is going to become increasingly important.

Read the full article…

The Evolution of Online Grocery Shopping

A recent SupermarketNews article shared insights into how the dynamics of the online grocery market have changed.

Not only are more shoppers using online grocery options than before COVID, but they are also split in which “type” of online platform they prefer.

This nuance bodes well for how conventional grocers can strengthen their online grocery services to improve performance, because it turns out they aren’t really competing with the mass merchandisers who are far more developed in executing their respective online strategies and who operate on a much larger scale.

“We know from Brick Meets Click’s monthly e-shopper research that today’s shoppers choose to place online grocery orders with mass merchandisers for very different reasons than when they choose to place online orders with conventional grocers,” the article said. “In this context, mass rivals are not conventional grocers’ most meaningful competitor.”

A few additional data points from their research that conventional retailers should consider include:

  • In 2019, stores that had operated an online grocery service for a longer period of time reported higher weekly sales. This correlation no longer exists. COVID has changed the circumstances that drive adoption and usage.
  • The impact of a store’s service area population has also shifted. In 2019, stores in the largest markets generated the highest level of weekly sales; today, stores in mid-sized markets reported the strongest sales. In high-population areas, there is simply more competition for online grocery spending than there used to be. This makes it harder to grow without expanding in other ways.
  • Offering customers a choice between pickup and delivery instead of just one option continues to have a significant impact on sales.

Supermarket Employee Day!

Today is “Supermarket Employee Day!”

A recent SupermarketNews article shared an update, which indicated that following the success of last year’s inaugural Supermarket Employee Day, FMI-The Food Industry Association is once again celebrating the grocery industry and its workers today, as part of the now annual event.

FMI noted that, “The Supermarket Employee Day’s return reflects the enthusiastic response to its launch last year, including participation from nearly every level of FMI membership, from retailers and wholesalers to suppliers and state association partners.”

The piece went on to quote Leslie Sarasin, FMI President and CEO, who said, “Grocery stores are a critical part of the fabric of our communities. They are the essential pipeline in providing the food and consumer goods necessary to sustain the health and well-being of their friends, neighbors and customers. As the global pandemic persists, supermarket employees remain committed to providing the services, resources and support families need to stay nourished, safe and healthy.”

While many stores struggle to maintain staffing and service levels, it’s nice to see people being recognized for their effort and service, and nice to see store management working to maintain employee engagement levels!

Top 5 In Customer Loyalty

A recent SupermarketNews article shared the results of consumer intelligence and marketing specialist InMarket’s Consumer Loyalty Report.

In the grocery sector the average score was 1.93. However, the top five finishers faired quite a bit better. The top 5 chains were:

  1. H-E-B’s with a score of 4.63
  2. Market Basket with a score of 3.9
  3. Kroger at 3.8
  4. King Soopers at 3.77
  5. Fry’s at 3.76

“Grocery stores like H-E-B and Kroger were subject to heavy inflation and supply chain issues, with grocery and food prices increasing by 6.4% year over year by November 2021,” InMarket explained.

“However, these chains all scored well-above average total consumer loyalty… as consumers again chose to shop with brands they knew would offer them the right price.”

7-Eleven introduces new subscription delivery program

As things continue to change and, hopefully, improve, in the retail grocery arena, 7-Eleven has taken a step forward in home delivery.

According to a recent SupermarketNews article, the convenience giant is improving its online delivery app with the introduction of 7NOW Gold Pass, a subscription program for $5.95 a month that will waive delivery fees for members.

“With the 7NOW Gold Pass subscription, there is no added fee for typically 30-minute delivery of more than 3,000 products, ranging from fresh food and drinks to household items, snacks and groceries,” the article said.

The piece went on to explain that the new service pays for itself in about three delivery orders per month.

Another example of how the customer experience is driving innovative ideas for continually improving retail grocery business practices.