Category Archives: Customer service and loyalty

Can Digital Resources Solve Grocery’s Inventory v. Profitability Dilemma?

“The biggest challenges that grocery retailers face is excess inventory and profitability,” says Randy Evins, Senior Principal for Food, Drug & Convenience at SAP.

In a recent SupermarketNews article,  Evins explains that grocers face the dilemma of keeping their margins low by spending less while still delivering quality products. More labor requires higher costs, but without the additional attention to fresh foods, products will not be up to standards.

The solution: Grocery retailers should leverage digital resources and process improvement to more easily monitor, plan and execute their efforts.

“It’s critical that grocery free themselves from the constraints of doing everything manually.” Elvin says.

“Automation of simple tasks can help ensure manpower is used in more critical roles rather than routine monitoring and conditions management.”

The article goes on to present ways in which digital information can help supermarket management better-understand what products are most popular and what are consistently undersold, as well as which processes are the best candidates for streamlining. They would then be able to better manage some of the more challenging yet vital areas of the business, such as the fresh foods and perishable sections, which typically comprise up to 50 percent of sales and more than 60 percent of profits.

In addition to leveraging technology to improve operational efficiency, Elvins also stresses the importance of using data to better-understand customer preferences, and to drive the customer experience (CX).

“Stores must differentiate from online by taking advantage of consumer senses, drawing consumers into the store, and using experiences to convert the sale,” he writes.

In-store events like wine tastings, and providing local product representatives and vendors throughout the store to offer expert opinions, are often popular offerings that aren’t possible online, thus creating greater brand-and-store loyalty as well as a competitive edge over online retailers.

Trends Continue to Add Fuel to the Shopping Experience Fire!

In a recent article posted by Pan Oston, a customized retail fixture and display manufacturer, the following five supermarket trends were identified for 2017, adding more fuel to the “shopping experience” fire:

  1. Retailers Should Treat Their Stores Like a Home: Unique retail experiences are still very important to customers and reward retailers who provide them.
  2. Convenience Will Be Key: Push button product, services, payment and delivery will be come more and more prevalent.
  3. Brick-and-Mortar Stores Will Become More Integrated
  4. Niche Retailers Will Rise
  5. Brick And Mortar Drives Customer Experience: Driving the customer experience, brick-and-mortar stores will remain relevant in 2017.

Read the full article…

3 Trends Impacting Supermarkets

In a recent article published by ECRM, a support organization that provides business solutions to retailers by integrating process, vision and technology, three key trends were identified as having a significant impact on the grocery retail field:

“The U.S. food retailing business has never been more competitive, the article said. “A number of trends are putting pressure on food retailers of all stripes…”

The article went on to suggest that the food retail business is evolving and “the customer is king!” Data from a study done by Packaged Facts was also shared, identifying three key trends as “shaping” the food and beverage retail market:

  • The incursion of e-commerce onto the food retailing landscape
  • The evolution and expansion of contactless payment options
  • The rise of the smaller store formats

Read the full article…

“Quick” Customer Experience Analysis

As you most likely know, “Omnichannel” refers to a type of retail that integrates the different methods of shopping available to consumers (i.e., online, in-store, phone…).

While some say the concept is just a fancier way of describing cross-channel sales, others profess that “Omnichannel” goes further to encompass the continuity of the shopping or customer experience (CX).

To further illustrate this perspective, Todd Leach
VP, Client Insights at Service Management Group (SMG), an organization that focuses on customer and employee experience, writes that Omnichannel is changing consumer expectations and, in one of his blog posts, suggests that “speed” is high on the expectation list.

“Above all else, speed means seamless,” Leach says. “…and the idea of seamless is the root of an Omnichannel experience. Customer information must be available across multiple touch points throughout the customer journey to help make interactions with your brand both efficient and effective. Remembering a customer’s most-purchased items makes checkout a breeze…  a push notification lets them open your app when they come near a store… one-click check-out saves customers from having to give the same information over and over again. These small details make a huge difference in a smooth and efficient customer experience—and that translates to a favorable brand perception and a boost in customer loyalty.”

It seems the online and in-store experiences are merging to better serve customers. The question is, will this ongoing evolution and the associated impact on the customer experience also drive customer loyalty?

 

Should Supermarkets Partner for Fast Track to Online Sales?

In an effort to more easily ramp-up online shopping , some supermarkets have opted to partner with third-party service-providers like Instacart, Postmates and Google Express.

This option can make sense, especially when you consider the various processes involved and the time it might take to create and fine-tune them.

This perspective was expressed in a recent Retail Dive article,  which stated, “With deep knowledge of consumer analytics and logistics, these providers can quickly get products into the hands of customers — sometimes, in as little as one hour.”

But the article also raised a few good questions about brand loyalty and customer relationships…

Read the full article

Insight Into Shelf-side Decision Making?

A recent article published by advancingretail.org shared some interesting information about understanding shopper behavior at the shelf.

“Understanding true shopper behavior in the store has become the latest battlefield in the fast moving consumer goods industry,” the article states.

Citing studies that show an estimated 76% of purchase decisions are made in the store, the article goes on to suggest that adding even a single product to a small percentage of shopping trips could equate to significant increases in sales revenue.

Wondering if there’s a way to accomplish this?

According to the article, Shopperception, a company with locations in Delaware and Buenos Aires, offers a platform that is able to “digitize shopper behavior in much the same way marketers are able to understand shoppers’ behavior online.”

Apparently their platform uses three-dimensional sensors combined with sophisticated algorithms to generate the data.

Assuming the decision-making that will be based on the consumer preferences translated by this data is combined with high levels of customer service, could this be a win-win opportunity for shoppers and supermarkets alike?

Supermarkets Rank in Top 1/3 of Temkin Group NPS® Survey

A recent article, published by Customer Experience Matters, shared results of a survey that included Net Promoter® Scores (NPS®) on 315 companies across 20 industries based on a study of 10,000 U.S. consumers.

Supermarkets ranked sixth out of twenty, with an average score of 39.

The Top 10 and their average scores were:

  1. Auto Dealers: 48
  2. Software: 41
  3. Investment Firms: 40
  4. Computers & Tablets: 40
  5. Appliances: 40
  6. Supermarkets: 39
  7. Insurance Carriers: 37
  8. Airlines: 37
  9. Hotels :37
  10. Retailers: 35

In case you are curious, the bottom scoring industries were health plans (24), Internet service providers (16), and TV service providers (11).

It’s nice to see that supermarkets in general are above-average when it comes to customer service and satisfaction!

Hot Food Trends for 2017

Empanadas

Understanding, and often predicting what shoppers want is an ongoing challenge for retailers of all types. While food shopping involves a regular choice of basics, consumers also experience shifting interests.

In a recent Huffington Post article,  ten “hot foods predictions” for 2017 included:

  1. Jackfruit – the the largest tree-borne fruit that saw a 420 per cent rise in interest among Pinterest users, thanks in large part to the vegan and vegetarian community which discovered its use as a convincing meat substitute
  2. Buddha bowls – ypically made with quinoa, avocados, sweet potatoes and grilled vegetables
  3. Empanadas – a stuffed bread or pastry baked or fried in many countries in Spain and Latin America
  4. Clean-eating chips
  5. Octopus

 

Supermarkets of the Future – Happening Now!

Earlier this year we shared several posts about the “supermarkets of the future,” in which several predictions were made such as the emergence of more tasting stations, more interactive displays, less waiting at check-out, and food deliveries made by robots!

Since then, many of these predictions have become realities, although not necessarily all in one place – at least until now!

A “supermarket of the future” has been opened in Italy according to a recent SupermarketNews article, which incorporates many of the features listed above and more!

The largest Italian supermarket chain, Coop Italia, has opened the store near Milan.

“The 11,000-square-foot store is built around the ideals of innovation and transparency… and merging physical and digital by augmenting a traditional food market with interactive displays and smart shelves designed to make shopping more relevant and personalized,” the article said.

The fact that this “future” store is located in Europe supports a belief shared by numerous industry experts, that being that European supermarket trends are slightly ahead of those in the U.S.

Read the full article…

 

Check-Out Free Stores?

A December 5th SupermarketNews article shared insights on the latest — and potentially most disruptive — development from Amazon: Amazon Go.

This new convenience store concept will offer consumers grocery essentials, convenience items and prepared foods-to-go without requiring them to check out.

The 1,800-square-foot test store, located in Seattle, is currently open to Amazon employees using the store in a beta test. It will open to the public early in 2017, the Seattle-based retailer said.

According to the article, these new stores will use proprietary technology allowing shoppers to take items from shelves and simply walk out with them to be billed later — “…a potentially big step toward meeting shopper demand for convenience while relieving Amazon the burden of costly  fulfillment as it pursues a greater impact on food retailing.”

“Our Just Walk Out technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart,” the company said in a release. “When you’re done shopping, you can just leave the store. Shortly after, we’ll charge your Amazon account and send you a receipt.”

Amazon Go — reportedly known inside the company as “Project X” — has been the topic of considerable speculation in recent months. Recent reports said the company was eyeing the potential to add as many as 2,000 such stores in the coming decade following a test period in major markets before 2018.

Wow! We didn’t see this one coming, but it is certainly a good example of customer-driven decision-making! And as some in the industry are wondering, might this be then next big “game changer?”