Category Archives: Customer Service

Supermarkets Among America’s Best Retailers

A recent SupermarketNews article reported several supermarkets have been recognized as being among the country’s best retailers.

Based on a survey of more than 10,000 U.S. consumers who have shopped in-person inside retail stores in the past three years, Newsweek’s 2022 America’s Best Retailers list ranks companies according to five criteria:

  • Products
  • Customer service
  • Atmosphere
  • Accessibility
  • Shop layout

In addition, the survey also asked about the likelihood of the respondent to recommend a retailer to friends and family. Overall, over 150,000 evaluations were collected on retailers in 39 categories. The top three to 10 retailers (based on category size) receiving the highest scores in each category were recognized as America’s Best Retailers for 2022.

Wegmans Food Markets, Publix Super Markets, and Harps Food Stores garnered the top ratings for supermarkets, followed by Sprouts Farmers Market and Whole Foods Market.

Top finishers in the discount supermarket chains list included Trader Joe’s, 99 Cents Only Stores, and Aldi.

Read the full article… 

7-Eleven introduces new subscription delivery program

As things continue to change and, hopefully, improve, in the retail grocery arena, 7-Eleven has taken a step forward in home delivery.

According to a recent SupermarketNews article, the convenience giant is improving its online delivery app with the introduction of 7NOW Gold Pass, a subscription program for $5.95 a month that will waive delivery fees for members.

“With the 7NOW Gold Pass subscription, there is no added fee for typically 30-minute delivery of more than 3,000 products, ranging from fresh food and drinks to household items, snacks and groceries,” the article said.

The piece went on to explain that the new service pays for itself in about three delivery orders per month.

Another example of how the customer experience is driving innovative ideas for continually improving retail grocery business practices.

Order lunch from the supermarket?

A recent SupermarketNews article announced Instacart is helping supermarkets better compete with restaurants with the rollout of Ready Meals, a new prepared meal ordering and delivery service for grocery stores.

According to the article, chains such as Publix Super Markets, Kroger and Ahold Delhaize USA’s Giant, Food Lion, Hannaford, Stop & Shop and Martin’s are offering customers the service via the Instacart app’s Ready Meals Hub, a new in-app destination for prepared foods.

Deliveries are made to homes or offices in as soon as 30 minutes, Instacart said.

Another good example of supermarkets finding innovative ways to provide a better customer experience!

Necessity & invention

As the saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

A good example involves the impact COVID has had on product sampling, a long-standing practice in supermarkets that came to a screeching halt due to concerns about safety.

“While some retailers and shoppers may be dipping back into onsite product sampling, the ongoing uncertainty about COVID-19 and the continual emergence of variants have put a proverbial crimp in plans to fully bring it back,” said Senior Editor Lynn Petrak in a recent Progressive Grocer article.

The good news is that digital product sampling platform Sampler has stepped in to bridge the gap through a newly-formed partnership with grocery wholesale distributor UNFI to send product samples right to consumers’ homes.

Users can create an account on the Sampler platform and identify preferred products, and then UNFI handles the delivery.

“UNFI sells over 275,000 unique products from thousands of national, regional and local suppliers,” explained company President Chris Testa. “Working with Sampler, we can help deliver a solution for brands wanting to generate greater trial and consumer awareness for their products.”

Another good example of improving the customer experience through innovation and resiliency!

More Supermarkets Offering COVID-19 Booster Shots

Giant Food, Publix Super Markets, H-E-B, Wegmans Food Markets, Albertsons Cos. and Big Y Foods are among the latest grocery chains to provide COVID-19 vaccine booster shots.

Pfizer COVID booster shots are administered at least six months after completion of the initial Pfizer two-dose vaccination series. Eligible patients include seniors, long-term care residents, those ages 50 to 64 with underlying medical conditions, individuals ages 18 to 49 at high risk for severe COVID-19 due to underlying medical conditions, and people ages 18 to 64 at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional settings.

Big Y Foods, a New England chain, is now providing the Pfizer COVID booster, as well as the Pfizer and Moderna third COVID vaccine doses, at all of its pharmacy and clinic locations. On Sunday, the Springfield, Mass.-based chain kicked off “Big Y’s Big Vax Week,” a series of on-site immunization clinics — including COVID and seasonal flu shots — through Oct. 2 at all 71 Big Y supermarkets in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

As part of their first-ever chainwide vaccination event, Big Y will be giving patients who receive a vaccine a coupon for $5 off $25, as well as other giveaways. In addition, Big Y said it will administer COVID booster shots at all Big Y pharmacy locations regardless of where people received their original Pfizer COVID vaccine series.

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.

Supermarkets Providing COVID Solutions

As reported in several Supermarket News articles, supermarkets are stepping-up to help customers more easily protect themselves from the pandemic.

Some specific examples of what might be considered an “extra” component of the customer experience:

  • Publix expanded COVID-19 vaccinations to over 100 pharmacies, expanding their collaboration with the state of Florida to 12 counties.
  • H-Vee expanded its coronavirus diagnostic services, and is planning to offer COVID-19 rapid antibody testing at more than 250 pharmacy locations.
  • Ralphs launched a program for administering COVID-19 vaccinations.
  • Meijer partnered with the state of Michigan and will administer COVID-19 vaccine at select stores in Wayne County to patients 65 or older.
  • Wegmans has partnered with state and local government officials to offer the COVID-19 vaccine at select pharmacy locations in New York State, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.
  • H-E-B has launched a registration portal on its website for people who are looking to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and is administering doses as supplies last.
  • Walmart will start providing inoculations in the city of Chicago as well as in Indiana along with six other states. The company has already been providing vaccinations in New Mexico and Arkansas.

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.

SpartanNash Reducing Food Waste & Enhancing Customer Service with Flashfood

An earlier post featured SpartanNash for leveraging technology to enhance their online and order pick-up processes. Today we once again focus on the company as they have launched an innovative program to reduce food waste while enhancing customer service.

According to a recent Progressive Grocer article, SpartanNash is piloting a Flashfood mobile app at five of its West Michigan Family Fare stores, allowing customers to purchase meat, produce, seafood, deli items and bakery products that are nearing their “best-by” date at up to 50% off.

As you may know, Flashfood is a Toronto-based mobile app that operates in more than 440 grocery locations throughout Canada and the US.

After downloading the Flashfood app, customers can select a participating Family Fare store, choose items, pay for them directly on the app, and then pick up their items at the store’s customer service counter, where the purchased items are stored in refrigerators.

“Customer convenience is key with the app,” said Matt Bennett, Director Retail Consumer Innovation at SpartanNash. “This app is a win-win for customers and the environment.”

Read the full article…

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!