A recent SupermarketNews article reported that Walmart will be investing in automation and related process improvements to drive costs down in the future.
According to the piece, “robotic warehouses, in which goods are moved by unmanned wheeled carts, will not only reduce the need for workers in the warehouses themselves, but also in the stores where the goods are received.”
In explanation, in-store efficiencies will be enhanced because products will be delivered to the stores on pallets that have been organized according to each store’s layout so that employees can stock shelves more efficiently directly from a pallet, rather than carting boxes of individual products back and forth from a back room.
“It’s a different process, eliminating a lot of hours that we invest in in the back rooms of our stores,” Doug McMillon, president and CEO said.
“Over the coming years, combining those kinds of robotics with inventory optimization technologies and predictive sales analytics will drive costs out of the system.”
A recent Progressive Grocer article reported that Austin Texas has become the first region outside the Seattle area where Whole Foods Market is offering Amazon One’s palm recognition service as a payment option.
In order to facilitate an easier and potentially faster check-out process, this new technology enables customers who have enrolled in the program to simply come to the checkout counter or point of sale, hover their hand over the Amazon One device for about a second or so, and the card linked to their palm will be charged for their purchase.
According to the article, “enrollment in the Amazon One service takes less than a minute, which involves linking credit/debit card info and creating palm signatures for one or both palms.”
The piece goes on to explain that a palm signature is created when a customer holds their palm over the Amazon One device, allowing the technology to evaluate multiple aspects of the palm. With no two palms alike, vision technology analyzes all aspects to select the most distinct identifiers on a palm to create a unique palm signature.”
Another example of emerging technology that can improve the grocery shopping experience.
In a recent Progressive Grocer article, Diana Medina, Director of eCommerce Solutions at Inmar Intelligence, shared some good insights and best practices for today’s supermarkets’ marketing strategies.
The article noted that in a traditional single-channel model it was simple to evaluate a grocer’s marketing efforts. “An ad ran, sales increased and you knew it worked,” she explained.
But today, that attribution becomes a more complex because grocers are using multiple channels to reach customers and prospective customers, and they must”…know what’s working and what’s not, and they need to know it quickly, so they can react and optimize in real time.”
Medina goes on to identify five important factors for optimizing attribution efforts:
- Attribution Isn’t Just for Digital Channels. Digital’s direct impact on grocery sales is easier to measure than more traditional marketing — like the weekly circular — but a comprehensive attribution plan needs to encompass all of the marketing channels you’re using to reach shoppers.
- Data Automation Is Essential for Measurement. Data is the lifeblood of sales attribution for any grocer. But for data to become a truly effective tool, it needs to be easily accessed and analyzed to create actionable, optimizable insights.
- Technology Should Drive Your Media Mix. The days of using one marketing message for all grocery shoppers are well behind us. Thanks to technology and data, you can now predict how an individual shopper might respond to one offer, while another will respond to an entirely different message. That means you can create relevant stories and experiences that engage shoppers when, where and how they prefer to shop, throughout their unique shopper journey.
- Predictive Models Actually Work. Predictive, or lookalike modeling, is all about understanding and anticipating shopper needs. The more comprehensive data you have on shopper behavior, across all channels, the easier it is to stay ahead of the competition.
- Test, Learn, Test Again! Small failures are almost a certainty when there are so many moving parts, data points, shifting customers needs, media options, marketing objectives and channels. The trick isn’t to avoid failure, it’s to learn and respond to it — quickly!
Read the full article…
A recent progressivegrocer article referred to 2020 as “a year of feverish activity for training and development” in supermarkets due to new job functions and tasks brought on by a public-health crisis.
However, the piece went on to suggest that an even greater need for employee training will emerge this year, because “the pandemic accelerated technology’s impact on innovation and created all manner of new and elevated shopper expectations that front-line employees must satisfy.”
The article referenced a study by The Center for the Future Work, which included data on the extent to which algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) are permeating businesses of all types (73%).
“What we once thought of as the future of work has now become the ‘now of work,’” the article said, and suggested more training around analytical skills will be needed going forward.
However, despite the wide-spread use of AI in supermarkets, the human touch still drives the customer experience. “Humans will continue to add value and be valuable by upskilling — having skills and capabilities that cannot be supplied by even the smartest of machines,” the report noted.
Our previous few posts have focused on technology in supermarkets, used both by the stores themselves and the shoppers.
Along the same trend, as reported in a recent SupermarketNews article, Walmart will literally launch a “technology-driven” pilot in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2021.
The new plan involves a partnership with self-driving car company Cruise to operate an entire fleet of all-electric delivery vehicles powered with 100% renewable energy. The project will support the retail giant’s initiative to reach zero emissions by 2040.
As part of the pilot, customers can place an order from their local store and have it delivered, contact-free, via one of Cruise’s all-electric self-driving cars.
“Technology that has the potential to not only save customers time and money but also is helpful to the planet is technology we want to learn more about,” said Tom Ward, senior vice president of customer product, Walmart U.S.
“This year, we’ve had our foot on the accelerator expanding our pickup and delivery services, so customers can get the items they need quickly and safely,” he continued.
So, the trend continues…