Category Archives: Uncategorized

All Politics (and Shopping) is Local!

Retailers must “readjust their strategies and find unique ways to lock in customers as business works its way back to equilibrium” suggests a recent SupermarketNews article.

While many parts of the country are moving faster toward recovery from the pandemic, many others are not. This variation will complicate larger chains as they attempt to modify programs, inventory, and policies going forward. Plus there are unanswered questions regarding the ‘pandemic-era’ behaviors that will stick versus those that won’t.

Three specific areas that are likely to complicate ‘business as usual’ for supermarkets are:

Supply Chain Fragility
COVID-19 has brought about severe backlog in the supply chain, affecting retailers and consumers alike. In addition, the container ship that blocked the Suez Canal for six days in March further caused delays. And while the pandemic has also created ripple effects industrywide, these challenges have been especially felt by independent retailers, many of which have struggled to keep essential goods stocked.

Reimagining the Retail Calendar
While certain pre-pandemic consumer habits are reverting to ‘the way it used to be’ other habits established in 2020 will remain even as the seasons change. As consumer behaviors have changed, traditional seasonal demand is likely to be affected, and retailers will need to reimagine inventory and promotional strategies.

Prioritize Local Customers
Just as the saying “all politics are local” might apply to an election strategy, catering to the unique needs of local or regional customers will be a must for all retailers, who must rethink how they will go about creating a unique experience that will lock in their customers. Inventory must look different from store to store, and a knowledge of local consumer preferences must drive the overall approach to inventory / assortment management. Catering to specific needs or preferences is likely to become more important in the quest for customer loyalty as well – i.e., are people in the neighborhood cooking at home for themselves or are they now entertaining?

Read the full article…

Supermarkets Leveraging Technology & Innovation to Make Continuous Improvements

Recent Progressive Grocer articles have highlighted a variety of examples of how supermarket chains are leveraging technology and innovation to make ongoing improvements in operations and the customer experience.

For example, Save Mart Cos., based in Modesto, Calif., is investing in robots that automatically audit store shelves to ensure that products are stocked and in the right location. The initiative involves a partnership with Simbe Robotics of San Francisco. The robots, named “Tally,” will first be deployed in seven stores. They are able to scan up to 30,000 products a day, helping retailers “reduce out-of-stocks by up to 30% and redirecting store staff to personally interact with shoppers.”

flex postAnother example of innovative thinking in response to shifting consumer shopping habits involves new products designed to improve curbside pick-up, which many industry leaders believe is here to stay. FlexPost® helps retailers manage traffic and keep people safe during curbside pickup trips. These flexible signposts and bollard systems can claim to reduce parking lot repair and maintenance costs, and also minimize the impact of minor collisions with customer vehicles.

Finally, in honor of Earth Day a number of organizations have come out with announcements this week about their sustainability efforts, ranging from waste reduction to regenerative farming to net zero energy use.

Among those we found most interesting are:

  • Four Stop & Shop stores in Massachusetts are piloting a Flashfood mobile app that shares sales pricing on perishables that are close to their best-by date. Stop & Shop has a goal of reducing food waste by 50% by 2030.
  • Given concerns about package waste associated with home delivery services, HelloFresh reported this week that it is teaming up with Pratt Industries to switch to cardboard packaging made of 100% post-consumer recycled content for its HelloFresh and EveryPlate meal kits. The company estimated that the move will help reduce GHG emissions by 6,800 tons and save more than 115,000 trees a year.
  • C&S Wholesale Grocers outlined several areas in which the company is preserving the environment, working to eliminate waste and reducing its carbon footprint. Among those sustainability steps, the C&S reports that it is improving fuel efficiencies in its fleets, including piloting trailer reefers on zero emission technology and tractor fleets on non-fossil fueled power in key markets.

Interesting Updates from Winsight Live!

You may be familiar with Winsight Grocery Business as a source of “information and inspiration” for supermarket industry leaders.

Among other things, they track and report on the trends they believe industry leaders should be aware of in order to be prepared for emerging changes and developments affecting their stores.

One of their tools is “Winsight Live,” a video production featuring insights and relevant updates from various industry experts. For example, in the most recent installment you can hear about:

  • The status of supermarket “technology wars”
  • An update on Kroeger’s robust restocking/pick-up-and-delivery plans
  • Consumer concerns

You can watch the video here.

Interesting 2019 Center Store Trends… And One Not So Surprising

2019 Center Store Trends

A recent SupermarketNews article shared some interesting data on center store trends this past year, along with a supporting slide show.

International foods and private wine labels had a solid impact on inventory and merchandising decisions, as did offering health and beauty products containing cannabidiol.

“Health & wellness, “clean” products and authentic flavors were the drivers behind sales growth in center store in 2019,” the article said.

Not surprisingly was the biggest challenge faced by retailers: fighting off online retail.

View slide show…

Best Supermarkets in 2019?

A recent article published by msn.com rated America’s “best” supermarkets.

With more than 66,000 supermarkets and other grocery stores in the U.S according to the U.S. Census, competition between chains has never been more fierce, the article said.

For the purposes of this list, supermarkets were defined as brick-and-mortar grocers, grocery stores, membership-only warehouse clubs, and nationwide department store retailers that have supermarkets within their retail locations. In addition, only those supermarkets with outposts in multiple states and more than five locations total were considered.

Judgments were made according to the following criteria:

Stock: A wide range of brands and offerings, including organic, locally sourced, artisanal, local favorites, international foods, and private label.

Services/Departments: Departments, including butcher, deli, bakery, and pharmacy.

Innovation: Delivery options, mobile apps, and staying on top of the latest trends.

Customer Service: Efficient checkout and self-checkout, easy returns/exchanges, loyalty programs, and personal touches like baggers who take groceries to the car.

Appearance and cleanliness: Brightly lit displays, tidy shelves, clutter-free aisles, and scuff-free floors.

Contribution to the community: Creating local jobs, working with local farmers and suppliers, and helping the less fortunate.

The top ten selections on msn’s list were:

  • Publix
  • Wegmans
  • Aldi
  • Likl
  • Trader Joes
  • Whole Foods
  • Harris Teeter (branch of Kroger)
  • Costco
  • Super Target
  • Kroger
  • Kroger Engaging People & Eliminating Process Waste

    Kroger engages with its customers and associates to create better, emotionally uplifting experiences with its brands, an article published by their technology partner Pivotal states.

    As you may know, the Kroger Company operates a personalized online ordering and in-store pickup system, a data analytics business, pharmacies, and convenience stores. They also believe in building strong local ties and brand loyalty with customers through delivering a consistently better customer experience, and through being involved in improving both their work processes and their communities. For example, the company is on a mission to end hunger in its communities; they are also on an ongoing mission to eliminate waste across its company by 2025—and leveraging technology, Pivotal says, is a big part of the plan.

    It’s not surprising that a customer base becomes more engaged and loyal when their shopping experience is consistently positive; and it’s not surprising that a workforce becomes more engaged and provides better service when they have an active voice in improving their work processes and, as are a result, are part of a more productive and successful team.

    Sounds like a great “recipe” for success… and is also well-aligned with our concept of “engagement around the work.”

    Surprising Data About Online Shopping Preferences

    Several of our posts have referenced prevailing supermarket shopping trends indicating the increasing popularity of online grocery shopping.

    However, the vast majority of Americans are not following-suit according to a new Gallup poll.

    The results of the poll were reported in a recent SupermarketNews article. Of 1,033 U.S. adults surveyed, 84% said they never order groceries online and 89% never order meal kits.

    The piece goes on to suggest that people who have ordered online do so with less frequency than one might expect, and that the likelihood of shopping online or buying meal kits is strongest with younger shoppers.

    Read the full article…

    More Curb-side Pick-up at Target

    In a recent SupermarketNews article, Target announced it has added Drive Up curbside pickup service to 200 more stores in the Midwest.

    The article went on to report that due to the expansion, more than 800 Target stores in 25 states now offer Drive Up service for online purchases of groceries, household essential items and other products, and plans are in the works to add additional locations next month.

    Another example of consumer preferences impact on supermarket and retail decision-making!

    Read the full article…

    Improving Online Grocery Shopping

    According to a recent posting and discussion on LinkedIn, supermarket chain Kroger is exploring driverless grocery delivery.

    Kroger plans to partner with an electrical start-up Nuro to test delivering groceries without drivers in a pilot program later this year. Nuro’s first vehicle is designed to move goods, not people the write-up noted.

    Certainly the trend among retailers has been to make online grocery shopping cheaper and easier. For example, Walmart recently partnered with Postmates to expand its online grocery delivery service.

    Wonder what will be next?

    Read more…

    Supermarket Priorities for 2017?

    A recent SupermarketNews article shared some interesting perspectives from Acosta Sales & Marketing, the sales and marketing powerhouse behind most of the trusted brands seen in stores every day.

    The article listed the top priorities on which supermarkets should focus next year, based on various surveys and emerging trends.

    The top five recommendations:

    1. Integrate health and wellness: Educate shoppers in-store and digitally to help them make smart food choices. Also consider how any in-store dietitians, pharmacies or other services in the wellness category can benefit customers during a single shopping trip.

    2. Prepared foods: Expect the trend of ready-to-eat meals to grow further as shoppers look for convenient, but quality, meal solutions. Retailers should provide nutritious options in this category, as well as more diverse types of meals.

    3. Digital fusion: The digital retail experience now goes beyond just coupons with the concept of the endless aisle. At-home delivery options make shopping convenient, and retailers should leverage apps so consumers can meal plan and take inventory of their kitchens.

    4. Localize: Shoppers want to feel a connection to their store and localizing your offerings and marketing messages can help them form a bond. A supermarket should be broadly appealing, yet reflective of its community.

    5. Signature departments: Select a few particular categories to zero in on and amplify those areas to differentiate your retail offerings. If you think your customers will gravitate toward a robust pet section, for example, focus on diversifying your product offerings in this space versus an aisle they’re less likely to visit.

    Read the full article…