According to a recent SupermarketNews article, Giant Eagle, a Pittsburgh-based food and drug chain, has formed an arrangement with Amazon’s Alexa virtual personal assistant to help keep pharmacy patients up to date on their medications. They are the first pharmacy retailer to offer the new medication management capability with Alexa.
The process appears to be straightforward, the article explains. “Under a collaboration with Amazon and medication management specialist Omnicell, Giant Eagle pharmacies now allow patients to set medication reminders and request prescription drug refills through Alexa. Users simply speak to an Amazon Echo device by saying ‘Alexa, manage my medication’ or “’lexa, refill my prescriptions,”’and the request is met using the patient’s prescription information at their designated Giant Eagle pharmacy.”
Aside from the associated convenience, the program’s objectives include helping people avoid non-adherence to prescription dosage plans (a major issue for some resulting in negative health care outcomes) and to simplify the refilling process.
“Integrating with Amazon Alexa makes it possible for patients to manage their medications by simply using voice, providing greater independence for older adults and the ultimate convenient, frictionless patient experience for everyone,” said Danny Sanchez, Vice President and General Manager of population health solutions at Omnicell.
Another example of how innovation and process improvement can enable grocery chains to enhance customer service and improve the supermarket shopping experience.
A recent SupermarketNews article shared an impressive slideshow about PCC Community Markets’ “new and improved” store in Seattle.
As you may know, PCC is one of Seattle’s original grocers and the largest community-owned food market in the United States. The retailer reopened its West Seattle store in Seattle unveiling a new 24,000-square-foot store that is nearly twice the size of the previous space.
With a focus on the shopping experience, the new store features many new offerings, including an expanded produce department, an outdoor patio, café, taqueria, pizzeria, and self-serve grain bowls.
This location is also is the first grocery store in the world to pursue Living Building Challenge (LBC) Petal Certification — the world’s most rigorous green building standard.
Wakefern Food Corporation, a Keasbey, N.J.-based grocery retail cooperative, is planning a 50-store test of a computer vision system that automatically identifies when product stock runs outs on shelves.
As reported in a SupermarketNews article, once out-of-stocks are flagged, the system helps store associates prioritize them as they occur and recoup the most lost sales as possible per labor hour to make the most customers happy. The system keeps track of both lost sales per hour (LSH) and frustrated shoppers per hour (FSH). The company said this information enables them to track an “out-of-stock hours” metric that makes it easier for them to rack on-shelf availability of products from store to store.
“Focal Systems’ out-of-stock detection through computer vision and artificial intelligence has enabled us to automatically identify shelf gaps,” Wakefern Chief Information Officer Cheryl Williams said. “This early success has encouraged our members to opt into a 50-store pilot expansion this autumn.”
Focal noted that its platform allows store associates to spend more time serving customers because it eliminates the need to manually scan for out-of-stock items.
“Customer expectations are high, and retailers want to deliver on those expectations,” stated Focal CEO Francois Chaubard. “Focal Systems provides the real-time data retailers need to run their stores efficiently…”
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!
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 SupermarketNewsarticle, 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.
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, 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
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.”
According to a recent SupermarketNewsarticle, supermarket salaries grew in 2018 in an effort to secure a more diverse mix of skills and experience to meet the demands of an “omnichannel” business model. “Omnicahannel” is defined as as a multi-channel sales approach that provides the customer with an integrated customer experience. The customer can be shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, or by telephone, or in a bricks and mortar store and the experience would be seamless.
“Compared with last year, you see the pretty steady increases that you normally see. But the biggest thing goes beyond the numbers, and that’s the new positions being created,” said Jose Tamez, managing general partner at Austin-Michael. “That’s more of an indication of what’s trending — be it a digital role at a senior level, an omnichannel role or customer experience types of roles. Those particular roles have been in retail for some time but in other segments, such as department stores or fashion. Now they are making their way into grocery.”
According to research done by HubSpot, organizations that currently providing the “best” omnichannel experience to customers include:
Bank of America
Stories and information about supermarket customer service and loyalty