Category Archives: Customer service and loyalty

4 Ideas for Supermarkets in the New Normal

The pandemic has changed the way people shop and what they care about most, says strategy-business.com. And most likely for the long term.

So, as a result, retailers’ strategies must also change.

“Whether the trip they’re looking to win is inside a store, curbside, or at a customer’s front door, emerging from the crisis on a strong footing will require retailers to plan around this new normal. Those that are best at sensing demand and responding quickly with engaging and brand-defining experiences will “win the trip” and see the highest return on their investments in those experiences, or return on experience (ROX),” the article said.

The piece goes on to suggest that retailers have likely seen growth in demand for certain categories, including food and beverage, personal care and wellness, home improvement, and pet care, as most of life’s activity has shifted to the home. Consequently, extra care (and inventory) in those categories will be necessary. Supermarkets also have an opportunity to “compete for trips — real and virtual — and reinforce their brand leadership by offering shopper resources, such as recipe ideas and educational content, in these categories.”

The authors suggest these four key ways that retailers can compete in the new marketplace:

  1. Improve and personalize targeting.
  2. Reinforce consumers’ category interests.
  3. Invest in targeted subscriber acquisition.
  4. Reimagine loyalty programs.

Read the full article…

Giant Eagle Pharmacy Customers: Just Ask Alexa!

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.

DogSpot at the Supermarket?

Happy Pets?

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!

Added Focus on Customer Preferences at Giant

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 SupermarketNews article, 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.

Innovation at H-E-B!

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.

Schnucks Leverages Tech to Improve the Shopping Experience

A recent SupermarketNews article reported that St. Louis-based Schnucks has responded to customer feedback to help shoppers save time and more easily identify foods that are aligned with their dietary preferences.

The article quotes Schnucks Vice President of Marketing Ted Schnuck, “We heard our customers saying that they’re time-starved and also hungry for more health and wellness information. These new Schnucks Rewards features will make customers’ experiences in our stores more convenient and take the guesswork out of nutritional planning by placing wellness information right at their fingertips.”

The app shopping list organizes customers’ lists according to the layout of their designated Schnucks store and also makes it easier to identify pricing information. In addition, the wellness guide enables customers to see nutritional information and labels (i.e., heart smart or gluten-free, etc.), and indicates which products have been approved by various USDA programs.

Read the full article…

Publix Adds Telehealth Stations to Florida Stores

A recent SupermarketNews article reported that Publix Super Markets Inc. plans to open three telehealth stations inside Publix stores in St. Johns County and a Publix Pharmacy at Flagler Hospital in St. Augustine Florida.

According to the article, the telehealth stations will be housed in a private room where patients can speak directly with a doctor via video-conferencing. The physician will be able to direct patients to use on-site diagnostic tools such as stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs and high-definition cameras, and to make a diagnosis or write any necessary prescriptions. Publix Pharmacy support staff also will be on hand to assist patients.

The chain has partnered with Flagler Health+, a Florida-based health network, to provide these and related retail pharmacy and primary care services.

Read the full article…

Best Supermarkets in 2019?

A recent article published by msn.com rated America’s “best” supermarkets.

With more than 66,000 supermarkets and other grocery stores in the U.S according to the U.S. Census, competition between chains has never been more fierce, the article said.

For the purposes of this list, supermarkets were defined as brick-and-mortar grocers, grocery stores, membership-only warehouse clubs, and nationwide department store retailers that have supermarkets within their retail locations. In addition, only those supermarkets with outposts in multiple states and more than five locations total were considered.

Judgments were made according to the following criteria:

Stock: A wide range of brands and offerings, including organic, locally sourced, artisanal, local favorites, international foods, and private label.

Services/Departments: Departments, including butcher, deli, bakery, and pharmacy.

Innovation: Delivery options, mobile apps, and staying on top of the latest trends.

Customer Service: Efficient checkout and self-checkout, easy returns/exchanges, loyalty programs, and personal touches like baggers who take groceries to the car.

Appearance and cleanliness: Brightly lit displays, tidy shelves, clutter-free aisles, and scuff-free floors.

Contribution to the community: Creating local jobs, working with local farmers and suppliers, and helping the less fortunate.

The top ten selections on msn’s list were:

  • Publix
  • Wegmans
  • Aldi
  • Likl
  • Trader Joes
  • Whole Foods
  • Harris Teeter (branch of Kroger)
  • Costco
  • Super Target
  • Kroger
  • Kroger Engaging People & Eliminating Process Waste

    Kroger engages with its customers and associates to create better, emotionally uplifting experiences with its brands, an article published by their technology partner Pivotal states.

    As you may know, the Kroger Company operates a personalized online ordering and in-store pickup system, a data analytics business, pharmacies, and convenience stores. They also believe in building strong local ties and brand loyalty with customers through delivering a consistently better customer experience, and through being involved in improving both their work processes and their communities. For example, the company is on a mission to end hunger in its communities; they are also on an ongoing mission to eliminate waste across its company by 2025—and leveraging technology, Pivotal says, is a big part of the plan.

    It’s not surprising that a customer base becomes more engaged and loyal when their shopping experience is consistently positive; and it’s not surprising that a workforce becomes more engaged and provides better service when they have an active voice in improving their work processes and, as are a result, are part of a more productive and successful team.

    Sounds like a great “recipe” for success… and is also well-aligned with our concept of “engagement around the work.”

    Walmart Setting the Pace for Online Grocery?

    Our previous post indicated that Amazon was the clear leader in online grocery shopping. However, a recent SupermarketNews article said that “Walmart’s heavy investment in e-commerce is paying off, and the retail giant could top Amazon in online grocery market share by the end of this year.”

    The data was based on a Deutsche Bank Securities report, which said Walmart  had been shifting focus and growth strategies in the direction of e-commerce, and that the chain has plans to bring online grocery delivery to 100 metropolitan areas — covering 40% of U.S. households — by the end of 2018 through its own services and third-party providers.

    Read the full article…