Category Archives: Grocery shopping trends

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…”

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.

3 Strategies for Attracting “Moms” to the Supermarket

As Mother’s Day Approaches, a study showed that most moms prefer to shop at the supermarket versus online.

According to research recently completed by Valassis Communications, Inc., a Livonia, Michigan-based company that provides media and marketing services, when it comes to food purchases, 52% of moms do most or all of their shopping in-store, compared to 27% of dads. But when it comes to health and beauty care items (HBC), only 36% of moms opt for brick-and-mortar, compared to 24% of dads. Equally as revealing, the study showed that over half of moms want better solutions to save more time (53%) and money (58%).

A recent SupermarketNews article reported these findings, and also suggested three key strategies supermarket chains might consider in order to continue attracting “moms” to their brick-and-mortar locations:

  1. Provide a mix of savings and convenience. Over one in three moms are increasingly shopping via brick-and-mortar that offer the added convenience of delivery and pickup options. Just over half (51%) always or very often search online for coupons they can use during their shopping trips.
  2. Appeal to the evolving omni-channel shopper. As the digital and physical environments continue to blend, approximately one in five moms orders groceries online for delivery or in-store pickup. And as technology continues to integrate with the path to purchase, over one in four moms now use a smartphone app to scan barcodes as they shop, according to Valassis.
  3. Offer unique experiences. More than a third of moms (36%) have increased their shopping at stores that offer prepared foods/meals versus last year. The same percentage say they are doing more shopping at stores that focus on organic, natural and fresh products compared to last year.

E-Commerce Challenges for Supermarkets

A recent Wall Street Journal article reported that E-commerce is transforming the grocery business, “bringing-about the need to overhaul operations and invest heavily in technology and talent to keep customers from straying to Amazon.com Inc. ”

“Not since Walmart Inc. first pushed into groceries in the late 1980s have traditional chains faced so many challenges,” the article states.

As an example, Kroger, a long-term, consistently successful chain, stayed focused on store sales long after competitors were investing in online-ordering technology and delivery services. But, according to the article, company leadership has recognized they are behind and have crafted a plan for more rapid transition to keep up with consumer preferences.

The article goes on to note that few American retailers have managed the online transition smoothly, citing early struggles experienced by Target and Walmart before improving their e-commerce operations, and the demise of Sears Holdings Corporation and Toys “R” Us in 2018.

This perspective is consistent with that of our previous post, noting that, while still in growth mode, the on-line grocery shopping experience requires improvement. It will be interesting to see how Kroger and other traditional chains address the emerging demand for online shopping while still satisfying the more traditional demand for low prices as well as a “unique” in-store shopping experience.

Kroger Predicts Food Trends for 2019

While New Year predictions are typically made closer to year-end, The Kroger Company recently shared their insights as reported in a Food Business News article.

They first named eating styles as a trend, citing the various diets and lifestyles consumers are adopting in pursuit of improved health and wellness.

“More consumers are purchasing better-for-you products and subscribing to different eating styles, from vegetarian to flexitarian to keto and paleo,” Kroger said in the article.

Gut-healthy foods is another trend expected to explode in the new year, the article said. Kroger expects to see the development of organic kombucha in flavors such as blueberry ginger and raspberry hibiscus, organic apple cider vinegar, Greek yogurt and probiotic low-fat milk, noting that  consumers are seeking foods that support self-care and healthy immune systems.

Consumer demand for low sugar and natural sweeteners also is forecast to drive product development next year, and the article cited research that indicated nearly half of consumers say they want to eat less sugar.

Plant-based foods will continue to gain traction in 2019 as well, Kroger says, as more consumers opt to reduce meat and dairy intake.

 

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…

Amazon Leader in Online Grocery Shopping

A recent SupermarketNews article states that Amazon has maintained a dominant position in online grocery retail.

The piece referenced a Brick Meets Click’s May 2018 consumer survey, which found that Amazon captured 30% of U.S. online grocery spending.

The data also showed supermarkets can still grow their online market share, noting that shoppers still visit brick-and-mortar locations more frequently than they place online orders.

The study polled 4,855 adults who do grocery shopping for the household.

Read the full article…