Category Archives: Grocery shopping trends

Albertsons Named SupermarketNews Retailer of the Year!

In a recently posted announcement, SupermarketNews has named Albertsons Cos., the nation’s second-largest supermarket operator, as its Retailer of the Year for 2020.

“The past year has seen Albertsons successfully go public, spur growth and innovation in strategic areas such as e-commerce and private brands, and refresh its store base, among other initiatives,” the article stated.

The piece went on to identify key results of the chain’s efforts, which included improved customer loyalty and market share gains.

Read the full article…

Reinventing Grocery?

An interesting e-book, “Reinventing Grocery: The Timeline to the New Normal,” was recently released by co-creators Agilence and Date Check Pro.

With no sales or marketing messages, the publications shares straightforward content about several key issues affecting the supermarket business, such as:

  • How former “slow moving” categories may be worth further investment
  • The role Associates play in future customer acquisition & retention initiatives
  • Why cleanliness & safety protocols will arise as a key driver to new sales
  • Why a familiar industry adjacent to the grocery industry may emerge as a direct competitor
  • The DNA of the New Shopper

More information about downloading the e-book

Voice of the Customer

Supermarket shoppers appear to be optimistic about things “returning to normal” according to a recent study by Acosta Research, thought the results vary a bit based on certain demographics. They also believe that some of the new in-store behaviors being put in place, such as hand sanitizing and mask wearing, may become permanent.

According to the study, 51% of shoppers polled expect life to return to normal in less than six months, while 29% believe it will take more than a year to return to pre-coronavirus behavior and daily life.

Summarized in a SupermarketNews article, the study also indicated that many of the current safety protocols have become second nature to shoppers, and that Millenials and Southerners are the most optimistic about a return to pre-Covid life.

43% of those surveyed believed their state was “reopening” at an appropriate rate, while 39% said steps toward reopening were being taken too soon. Only 13% said their state’s reopening plans were moving too slowly.

A bit closer to the aisles, 68% of shoppers reported using a hand sanitizer before or after shopping, and the same percentage reported wearing a mask while shopping. The study found mask usage has doubled since early April (most popular among shoppers in the Northeast) and nearly half of shoppers (49%) reported shopping during off-peak hours to avoid crowds. The use of self-checkout has risen as well with 34% of shoppers choosing to do so.

Not surprisingly, shoppers are over-buying select items depending upon expectations of supply shortages. The current (as of mid-May) item of concern is meat, as opposed to the paper products buying frenzies during the first quarter. Of those who are “stocking up,” 34% said they were doing so because they are “eating at home more often” and 31% said the reason was fear of shortages or an attempt to reduce the frequency of shopping trips. 35% noted higher prices,

Innovative Improvements Continue to Emerge in Supermarkets

PREPARING FOR THE “NEW NORMAL”

Today’s Wall Street Journal reported that Koninklijke Ahold Delhaize NV is accelerating development of a robotic cleaning arm to help workers clean stores and process orders more effectively due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All the researchers said this Covid situation is so urgent, we see a direct application for our work right now because there’s scarcity of people who can work in stores,” said Bart Voorn, Director of Data, AI, and Robotics.

Of course the grocery giant is only one of many organizations taking innovative steps to initiate improvements in how the operate.

The article quoted Paul Daugherty, Accenture PLC’s group chief executive for technology, as saying, “Hyper automation is coming. We have now only automated 15 to 20 percent of what we can do.”

As noted in previous posts, necessity is, indeed, the “mother of invention” in supermarket chains across the globe; and combining technology with tried-and-true process improvement methodology is the likely path toward preparing for the “new normal” in food shopping.

Kroger’s Innovative Step-up

Spring-boarding from our previous post on emerging innovations within the supermarket industry, Kroger has exemplified such behavior by launching new new drive-thru test sites for coronavirus.

According to a recent SupermarketNews article, the chain will be offering free drive-thru testing for COVID-19 at 50 locations in more than 12 states by the end of May, and expects to have conducted up to 100,000 tests by that time.

So far, Kroger’s healthcare arm, said it has performed almost 8,000 tests in 30 locations.

The article goes on to quote Rodney McMullen, Kroger Chairman and CEO, as saying, “As part of Kroger’s commitment to help America reopen safely, we are proud to help expand access to COVID-19 testing as a partner in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Public-Private Testing Partnership.”

Not only is the drive-thru aspect of Kroger’s testing model innovative, but so too is their methodology. Their sites use anterior nares or mid-turbinate nasal swab tests, which are designed to increase safety. The tests are completed in just a few minutes using self-administered test kits, and results are expected within about 48 hours.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Bill Taylor, co-founder of Fast Company and the author of Simply Brilliant: How Great Organizations Do Ordinary Things in Extraordinary Ways shared some great examples of how bad times have brought out the best in people and organizations.

Possibly this free testing being offered by Kroger will be remembered as such in the future?

Order for Pick-up Best Practices

A recent SupermarketNews article referenced the fact that the gross majority of people in the US own a smartphone and that this has led to a “NOW” economy where almost everything consumers want is available at their fingertips or on-demand. “These expectations provide a great opportunity for grocery brands to grow revenue if they can provide the pickup experience that customers are looking for,” the article said.

The piece went on to cite data from Rakuten Intelligence indicating that “Order for Pickup” has grown 2.5x faster than delivery over the last 3 years and that over 60% of consumers having tried curbside pickup or “click and collect.”

To capture those valuable and loyal mobile-first customers, grocers must be prepared to offer the right products as well as a top notch experience.

In fact, the article referenced a study by PWC highlighting that 73% of customers point to experience as a critical factor in their purchasing decision.

The following 5 best practices were then identified as critical to a successful Order for Pickup program:

  1. Focus on logistics and infrastructure. Clear signage, dedicated parking and pickup areas will reduce wait times and positively impact the customer experience.
  2. Leverage data to personalize the experience. The lower the wait time and the more personalized the experience becomes, the higher the customer perception of the overall shopping experience.
  3. Optimize technology to alert employees when customers arrive to pickup their orders.
  4. Provide dedicated employee training so they can provide high-levels of service.
  5. Promote your program to drive awareness and usage.

Pros & Cons of a 2020 Grocery Trend: Delivery

A recent article published by datecheckpro.com cited a Coresignt study indicating that “36.8% of internet-using adults polled bought groceries online in the previous 12 months, up from 23.1% in their 2018 study. That equates to approximately 93 million online grocery purchases using U.S. Census data.”

Interestingly, according to SupermaketNews, the majority of these purchases came from Walmart and Target, followed by Kroger. Walmart and Kroger have more than doubled their online grocery shopper numbers over the past 12 months, their report said. This alone translates to adding about 20 million and 6 million online customers, respectively. In addition, and as we all know, Amazon has become active in selling groceries. So, all things considered, it’s a fair assumption that online grocery shopping and home delivery are here to stay.

It’s also fair to say that, before long, consumers will demand online shopping and delivery from smaller independent stores as well.

For retailers, there are pros and cons to offering this service.

According to the article, top reasons in favor of offering online ordering and home delivery are:

  • It satisfies consumer demand for convenience.
  • It enables a retailer to get on the bandwagon of what is clearly a trending service in the industry.
  • Since the transactions are all digital, retailers get more insight into customer shopping habits and preferences – good data!

On the negative side:

  • Delivery is not easily accessible for all grocers, especially smaller stores in more rural America. Bigger chains like Walmart, Target, and Kroger have success with their grocery delivery services because they have the financial, operational and people resources to handle the complicated logistics.
  • The first “con” leads to the fact that smaller grocers will likely need to outsource the delivery portion of the equation, thus losing a good deal of the control associated with that piece.
  • Costly initial investment

Read the full article…

The BYOD Trend in Supermarkets: Pros & Cons

Pros & Cons of Emerging Trends

According to a recent article published by datecheckpro.com, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), a technology-driven trend, is permeating the retail space with its promise to simplify operations, boost grocery stores’ bottom line, and bring in more millennial employees.

The article cited a survey by MarketsandMarkets that said BYOD policy adoption in North America increased from 36% in 2017 to 50% by the beginning of 2018, and the trend is expected to rise again in 2020.

Simply stated, these policies allow employees to use their own devices (i.e., phones, tablets, laptops) at work to complete their job responsibilities.

Pros & Cons
Like most things, there are both pros and cons associated with BYOD. On the positive side:

  • The store can save overhead on purchasing technology
  • Convenient customer service opportunities for sales associates on the floor who use their phones to answer customer questions and to quickly research answers to questions they can’t answer themselves such as dates on store inventory
  • Saves employees time because they tend to be more familiar with the device that they’re using (instead of having to potentially learn a new operating system provided by the company). On average, workers save 81 minutes per week.
  • Increases employee engagement; by using their own devices, and 78% of workers feel BYOD supports better work-life balance.

On the negative side:

  • Risks of incorporating external devices onto the store’s network
  • Distraction if team members use their devices for personal reasons
  • Overworked networks

Supermarket “Automation”

Related to recent posts about the trend toward online grocery shopping is a recent SupermarketNews article featuring input from Brick Meets Click co-founder Bill Bishop.

The piece is part of a twice-monthly series in which industry executives, experts and other grocery players share their insights about the news, trends and issues that matter most to retailers and their business partners.

In this installment, which also includes a Podcast, Bishop lists five ways that automation will impact grocery retail, which include:

  • Supermarkets will become more productive and, in turn, more competitive
  • A more educated and/or engaged and productive workforce will be attracted to food retailing
  • Automated order selection systems will replace or reduce self-service retailing
  • Technical breakthroughs will drive significantly lower retail costs
  • Customers will see a more personalized shopping experience.

“The world around us is changing very rapidly. Consumers are using digital aggressively, and it’s changing their expectations. Of course, that’s particularly strong among younger shoppers. Beyond that, competition is putting significant pressure on margins today. This automation technology is a way to maintain profitability,” Bishop said.

“Now we see automation stepping in with the opportunity to replace large sections of the supermarket,” he later explained. “That automation is able to operate in a much smaller footprint, and there’s significantly higher productivity.”

Read the full article/listen to Podcast…

Wakefern Focusing on Process Improvement & Customer Experience

Wakefern Food Corporation, a Keasbey, N.J.-based grocery retail cooperative, is planning a 50-store test of a computer vision system that automatically identifies when product stock runs outs on shelves.

As reported in a SupermarketNews article, once out-of-stocks are flagged, the system helps store associates prioritize them as they occur and recoup the most lost sales as possible per labor hour to make the most customers happy. The system keeps track of both lost sales per hour (LSH) and frustrated shoppers per hour (FSH). The company said this information enables them to track an “out-of-stock hours” metric that makes it easier for them to rack on-shelf availability of products from store to store.

“Focal Systems’ out-of-stock detection through computer vision and artificial intelligence has enabled us to automatically identify shelf gaps,” Wakefern Chief Information Officer Cheryl Williams said. “This early success has encouraged our members to opt into a 50-store pilot expansion this autumn.”

Focal noted that its platform allows store associates to spend more time serving customers because it eliminates the need to manually scan for out-of-stock items.

“Customer expectations are high, and retailers want to deliver on those expectations,” stated Focal CEO Francois Chaubard. “Focal Systems provides the real-time data retailers need to run their stores efficiently…”