Category Archives: Customer Service

Customers King at Kroeger?

A recent SupermarketNews article reported that Kroger has launched a new improvement initiative to accelerate changes in assortments and better customer service.

While Kroeger has been in the news lately for considering the sale of its convenience stores, the new  “Restock Kroger” improvement initiative seems to be the bigger story. It will involve “an accelerated and more data-driven effort around pricing, personalized communications with customers, and a revamp of product assortments,” the article said.

“We will change the way people eat in the U.S.,” said Rodney McMullen, chairman and CEO. “If you are eating, we want to serve you. Unless you are eating in a white tablecloth restaurant, we want to be able to provide that meal for you.”

Read the full article… 

Groceries Delivered & Put-Away in Your Home?

According to a recent posting on techcrunch.com, Walmart has announced that it will begin testing a new service that will allow customers with August smart home devices, like the August doorbell and security cameras, to have their packages and groceries delivered inside their home instead of left on the doorstep. Grocery orders won’t just be placed inside the house like the packages, but will be put away in the fridge and freezer, when appropriate.

The retailer says it will soon start this test in the Silicon Valley area with select customers who have opted into to try the new service.

Sounds like continuous process improvement and the trend toward innovative customer service continues!

Read the full story…

The e-Trend Continues: Saving Shoppers Time & Money

A recent “10 Items or Lessarticle posted by SupermarketNews identified steps taken by major food retailers that indicate the focus on e-shopping will continue to grow in 2017.

The article states that Wal-Mart Stores plans to have around 1,100 stores offering online grocery pickup this year, and that they are continuing with initiatives built around making fulfillment more versatile and/or efficient, such as offering discounts on online orders picked up in stores, and testing the idea of having store employees deliver orders to customer’s homes on their post-work commutes.

The piece goes on to report that Amazon said it was rolling out “Instant Pickup,” a free service offering its Prime members a curated selection of “daily essentials” available for pickup in two minutes or less. The service is available at five campus locations currently with plans to add more locations soon.

Even no-frills Aldi had issued a statement indicating it was getting into e-commerce for the first time through a partnership with Instacart in three cities.

“Our partnership with Instacart is another example of Aldi expanding our commitment to customer convenience and value,” Jason Hart, CEO of Aldi, said. “We know customers are looking for new ways to save time and money.”

As these new services are being rolled-out, it strikes me that supermarket chains will need to take an innovative approach to refining their work processes to reduce waste and cost.

See related article…about becoming more innovative.

“Checkout-less” Supermarkets: What’s Old is New?

The Seattle Times recently published an interesting and entertaining  article, which referenced the announcement made late last year by Amazon.com regarding the launch of an experimental convenience store in downtown Seattle where customers could skip the checkout line.

While the concept was presented as futuristic and technologically innovative,  a French retail chain, Monoprix, took issue with that depiction.

As the video showcased within the article explains (in a clever and somewhat humorous way), “Monoprix’s “Livraison à domicile +,” is their 10-year-old service that also allows shoppers skip the checkout lines – via a different form of innovation.

What’s old is new!

Wegmans Launching E-Commerce Partnership & One Hour Delivery Options

A recent SupermarketNews article reported that Wegmans is launching an e-commerce partnership with Instacart , which will enable online shopping and delivery at Wegmans Food Markets in select cities.

According to the article, the service will be available in Northern Virginia and Maryland, and will allow customers to order from Wegmans online and have their groceries delivered to them in as little as one hour.

A Wegmans spokesperson was quoted in the article as saying “it was offering the service to meet customer demand for time.”

This perspective is common as, in an effort to respond to consumer demand and competitive pressure, numerous food retailers have been striving to provide online offerings.

We expect the trend to continue as supermarket chains find new and innovative ways of maintaining customer loyalty.

 

Online Store “Made Easy” for Supermarkets

“We make it easy to take your grocery store online,” says Indemand a San Francisco-based plug and play platform for building an on-demand store or service.

According to the company website, their platform allows anyone to set up their own on-demand store without the need for any technical expertise. Customers can customize their solution, and also take advantage of a “mobile-first” solution.

While the service is available to “any” type of business, pricing plans for supermarkets range between $149 – $299 per month, plus a start-up fee and a per transaction fee.

 

Amazon “Pick-up” Stores Free for Some

According to a recent SupermarketNews article, Amazon has released information about new “click-and-collect” sites in Seattle.

Called “AmazonFresh Pickup,” the new concept will provide a full selection of grocery and household items available for online ordering and pickup, free to its Prime members.

The prototype sites are currently open only to Amazon employees. While Amazon did not specify any time-frames or plans, the article quoted an analyst at Wolfe Research, who said he expected Amazon will open as many as 30 such outlets this year.

Service v Price in Supermarkets?

Various articles and reports are consistent: supermarket shoppers want more convenience and better service!

One SupermarketNews article reported how consumer demand for service impacted operations at Meijer and the curbside pickup option it launched in some stores in 2015. The article quotes Peter Whitsett, EVP of merchandising and marketing at Meijer, “…[data] has put a spotlight on the huge demand for convenience, and the challenge for the big retailer to wrestle it economically. As retailers we’ve done a reasonably good job of managing price for products, but what we’re learning to do is managing price for service.”

The piece goes on to explain that Meijer assumed curbside pick-up would primarily serve for fill-in trips, but the company soon realized they “were 180 degrees wrong. Customers said ‘do all my shopping for me.’”

Similarly, Euromonitor International, a world leader in strategic market research, published a white paper “The New Definition of Convenience in Retail,” which indicates that, “Thanks to time-pressed consumers, the need for convenience is paramount and retailers, in all channels, are deploying tactics to get consumers what they want as conveniently as possible.”

Of course, the convenience of online shopping and grocery delivery means different things to different people. For urbanites, many of whom opt to forgo car ownership, transportation to and from the supermarket might be the key issue. Yet for others, as noted above, time might be the driving force.

So, what does this mean for supermarkets?

First, as noted by Meijer’s Mr. Whitsett, supermarkets will need to go beyond managing price and find ways to streamline and improve the work processes for providing added services and convenience.

Secondly, online shopping is poised to become a bigger part of the overall grocery shopping equation going forward, and grocery providers must find ways to compete in this arena – against the likes of Amazon and Walmart, this will not be an easy task!

As noted in an article posted on fooddive.com, “Grocery retail value should be re-framed to emphasize non-price factors such as freshness, quality, customer service and the shopping experience. 2017 could become the year when retailers stop primarily selling products and instead start selling services, solutions, and quite possibly stellar shopping experiences.”

On-line Grocery Seen as Gaining Traction in 2017 & Will Require New Process Imrpovement

A recent SupermarketNews article predicts that on-line grocery shopping will continue to gain traction again this year.

According to the article, consumers and food retailers are becoming more comfortable with the concept of shopping for groceries via the Internet.

“The rate of acceleration of change is increasing drastically,” said Bill Bishop, chief architect of Brick Meets Click. “We sense 2017 is going to be a year of major change.”

The article went on to site research indicatiing that the number of active users of online grocery — those who have ordered groceries online at least once in the last 30 days — nearly doubled from 11% of households in 2013 to 21% of households in 2015, and he expects that proportion to have doubled again since then.

Key factors driving the growth include:

  • Increasing availability
  • Diversity of features available as new players enter the market with a range of alternatives for consumers, such as click-and-collect delivery options and a variety of product assortments
  • Online grocery might also be getting more affordable

It was also noted that an increasing number of major supermarket chains are driving the trend toward on-line shopping, and that the entire industry will need to master new protocols and work processes to optimize efficiency.

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?