Category Archives: customer experience

Customer Experience Programming Provided by Progressive Grocer

Making customer retention a first priority and finding ways to let customers know they are cared for were among the key focus areas to be addressed in a Customer Experience program offered by Progressive Grocer.

“As those who keep you in business explore a rapidly expanding landscape of options beyond your stores, customers need to know you care about keeping their business over time… [you must] become the most trusted partner to meet each customer’s needs, keep them safe, and ensure they know you’re listening and learning from their experiences,” they said in a statement.

The piece went on to pose some thought-provoking questions regarding customer trust and loyalty, and about finding opportunities to gain their feedback to ensure needs are being met.

“Customers have more options than ever to obtain what they need and want,” PG said.

“Retailers who don’t specialize in grocery or have never offered grocery items are expanding across the market to capture larger segments of your customers’ budgets. The intensely competitive nature of grocery requires constant communication with customers and attention to these imperatives: an omni-channel approach to customer feedback, prioritizing safety and building customer trust, and knowing exactly what your customers want.”

Leveraging Technology at Whole Foods

A recent SupermarketNews article reported that Whole Foods Market will be implementing the checkout-free Just Walk Out payment technology that Amazon introduced in its Amazon Go convenience stores in two new stores slated to open next year in Washington, D.C. and Sherman Oaks, Calif.

As the name implies, Just Walk Out allows customers to avoid the checkout line by using overhead computer-vision cameras, weight sensors and deep-learning technology to detect merchandise that shoppers take from or return to shelves and track items selected in a virtual cart. Customers will be prompted when entering the store to select Just Walk Out shopping or use the traditional checkout or self-checkout lanes.

Another example of how supermarkets are leveraging technology to continually improve the in-store shopping experience!

Leveraging Technology to Improve Processes at Walmart

A recent SupermarketNews article said that Walmart plans to roll out warehouse automation that will improve speed and efficiency at regional distribution centers.

The plan involves activating robotics technology in 25 of Walmart’s 42 distribution centers, which will include a fleet of fully autonomous robots and proprietary software to improve throughput while boosting warehouse capacity,

“This move will fundamentally alter how products get to stores,” said Joe Metzger, executive vice president of supply chain operations at Walmart U.S.

“Right now, product arrives at one of our regional distribution centers and is either cross-docked or warehoused until we need it. The products are moved or stored manually… This system uses a complex algorithm to store cases like puzzle pieces using high-speed mobile bots, operating with a precision that speeds the intake process and increases the accuracy of freight being stored for future orders. By using dense modular storage, it also expands building capacity. And by using high-speed palletizing robotics to organize and optimize freight, it creates custom store- and aisle-ready pallets, which take the guesswork out of unloading trucks.”

Another good example of improving processes to drive the customer experience while keeping costs down!

What Supermarkets Can Learn from C-Stores

Several of our posts have focused on the importance of innovation and the customer experience, and how retailers must make continuous improvement in these areas a priority. Along those lines, a recent SupermarketNews article shared some interesting insights on the significant success the country’s 153,000+ convenience stores (c-stores) have experienced due to making ongoing improvements via “digital transformation.”

The piece quoted Scott Langdoc, a strategist specializing in the grocery chain, drug, and convenience/fuel retailing segments at Amazon Web Services, who said, “By focusing digital transformation efforts on supporting emerging customer journeys, optimizing product and service offerings, and prioritizing efficiency of retail operations, c-store retailers are working with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to double down on innovation while recovering revenue and attracting new customers.”

The article went on to explain the different product fulfillment expectations at c-stores, which include fuel fill-up, basic snack and beverage purchases, buying prepared foods like pizza or sandwiches, a quick errand for a household necessity or a combination of those scenarios.

Langdoc also noted that, more frequently, customers expect a personalized experience regardless of how or where they engage in the c-store.

Examples given included:

  • While a customer pumps fuel, they order a slice of pizza at the dispenser via a voice-activated order system and use their mobile phone to pay for both the pizza and their fuel.
  • A shopper buys a fountain drink in a store and gets a personalized discount to buy fuel as an incentive because the customer hasn’t purchased fuel at that station in the last month.
  • A customer grabs the items they want to buy at an Amazon Go store and walks out without having to stand in line to pay at a traditional cash register.

The Bottom Line
While recognizing that fuel remains the top selling c-store product category, the article concluded by suggesting, “in-store product sales and an extensive prepared food menu represent the largest overall sales growth categories, and on average, they are the biggest contributor to overall gross profit.”

Therefore, retailers should focus on capturing the broadest spectrum of transaction details possible and applying the analytics and machine learning to generate hyper-accurate predictions of future demand.

“This transaction detail can help optimize category plans, profitable private label assortments, high-selling menu offerings, and better in-store stock availability,” the article said.

Read the full article…

Canada’s Virtual Food Festival: Another Example of Innovation

In an enormous effort to keep stakeholders at all levels informed and engaged, and another good example of innovative solutions during the pandemic, Canada is running a virtual “Flavors Food Festival.”

The four day event, scheduled for March 22-25, will feature direct connections with Canadian food, beverage, and ingredient companies. Attendees will include supermarket, specialty retail, c-store, food service, food distribution, food manufacturing, and alcohol importers, distributors, and retailers looking to find new products from innovative brands.

Educational breakout sessions will also be offered.

Surprisingly, there is no cost to join in the fun!

More information…

Supermarkets Dealing with Accelerated Training Demand

A recent progressivegrocer article referred to 2020 as “a year of feverish activity for training and development” in supermarkets due to new job functions and tasks brought on by a public-health crisis.

However, the piece went on to suggest that an even greater need for employee training will emerge this year, because “the pandemic accelerated technology’s impact on innovation and created all manner of new and elevated shopper expectations that front-line employees must satisfy.”

The article referenced a study by The Center for the Future Work, which included data on the extent to which algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) are permeating businesses of all types (73%).

“What we once thought of as the future of work has now become the ‘now of work,’” the article said, and suggested more training around analytical skills will be needed going forward.

However, despite the wide-spread use of AI in supermarkets, the human touch still drives the customer experience. “Humans will continue to add value and be valuable by upskilling — having skills and capabilities that cannot be supplied by even the smartest of machines,” the report noted.

Walmart’s Innovative Delivery Plan

“Helicopter, nylon, radar, jet engine, canned beer, sunscreen—all these inventions are the legacy of the Great Depression of the 1930s,” wrote Alex Petrunenko, Product Evangelist at Creato. “We might not know all the innovations of the coming years brought by the COVID-19 crisis, but we know for sure there will be more companies leveraging low-code technology across different industries.”

A good example of innovative improvements such as those listed above was reported in a recent SupermarketNews article, which announced that Walmart plans to pilot an Internet-of-Things (IoT) “smart box” from startup HomeValet for home delivery of perishable foods.

According to the article, the “smart box” test will begin this spring in Bentonville, Ark. Participating customers will be able to receive deliveries from their local Walmart store in a temperature-controlled box located outside their home. Three temperature zones inside the box will allow for storage of frozen, refrigerated and pantry items.

The “smart box” can interact with the courier’s mobile device to provide access and complete “hands-free” fulfillment of the order.

“This gives customers the ability to receive secure, contactless deliveries with peace of mind, knowing their grocery items will stay fresh,” explained Tom Ward, Senior VP of Customer Product at Walmart U.S.

DoorDash Now Offering On-demand Grocery Delivery

According to a recent article published by Restaurant News, “last-mile” food delivery provider DoorDash is now offering on-demand grocery delivery arena, led by the launch of its new DashPass service.

DashPass enables customers to place orders with participating grocery retailers at DoorDash.com or via the DoorDash mobile app and have their groceries delivered directly to their homes by DoorDash.

Defined as the movement of goods from a transportation hub to the final delivery destination, the focus of “last mile delivery” is to deliver items to the end user as fast as possible.

DashPass delivery service is provided via a $9.99 monthly subscription, for which members receive unlimited free deliveries and reduced service fees for orders of at least $12. Customers also can order groceries via DoorDash on a per-order basis for a $3.99 standard delivery fee (depending on the service area), with no minimum order amount.

In a separate article published by SupermarketNews, it was reported that DoorDash, which recently became publicly-traded, built its reputation as the country’s top food delivery provider by strategically going after suburban markets.

As consumers continue to exhibit an increasing demand for convenience as well as quality and choice, retailers and their strategic partners continue to respond with innovative solutions such as this.

More Technology for Food Shoppers

Our previous few posts have focused on technology in supermarkets, used both by the stores themselves and the shoppers.

Along the same trend, as reported in a recent SupermarketNews article, Walmart will literally launch a “technology-driven” pilot in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2021.

The new plan involves a partnership with self-driving car company Cruise to operate an entire fleet of all-electric delivery vehicles powered with 100% renewable energy. The project will support the retail giant’s initiative to reach zero emissions by 2040.

As part of the pilot, customers can place an order from their local store and have it delivered, contact-free, via one of Cruise’s all-electric self-driving cars.

“Technology that has the potential to not only save customers time and money but also is helpful to the planet is technology we want to learn more about,” said Tom Ward, senior vice president of customer product, Walmart U.S.

“This year, we’ve had our foot on the accelerator expanding our pickup and delivery services, so customers can get the items they need quickly and safely,” he continued.

So, the trend continues…

Is Your Supermarket “Digitally Mature?”

A recent study by digital insights firm Incisiv named BJ’s Wholesale Club, Publix, Brookshire Grocery, Target and Costco Wholesale among the nation’s most “digitally mature” grocery retailers, according to a recent SupermarketNews article.

Incisiv defined digitally mature grocery retailers as those that “invest in their front-end shopping platform as well as back-end integration, fulfillment, customer service and operational excellence to deliver an optimal, end-to-end customer experience.”

As technology continues to march forward at an increasingly rapid pace, it will be interesting to see if the process enhancements also enhance customer engagement.