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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… 

Investment in Online Shopping Continues, But…

Total funds raised for grocery delivery startups have exceeded $1 billion so far this year, according to research firm CB Insights.

But while American consumers are buying groceries online, they haven’t changed their food-buying habits as quickly as they have for other types of merchandise, according to US government statistics which show that consumers still prefer to stop into the supermarket to evaluate and buy fresh food , and many more continue to make weekly shopping excursions.

In addition, buying groceries online is convenient, but it still requires the same kind of meal planning of a regular shopping trip, and, according to a recent article published on, it often means shelling out a hefty fee for delivery.

In fact, delivery costs associated with online food shopping vary quite a bit and, surprisingly, online shopping giant Amazon is among the priciest options!

It will be interesting to see if online food shopping volume will spike over the holidays, especially if overall shopping volume goes-up again this year as many are predicting.

Making the On-Line Supermarket Profitable

In a recent article posted on Tumblr the topic of making e-commerce profitable for retailers, including supermarkets, was examined.

The article references a study  from HRC Advisory about how the growth of eCommerce may be helping retailers retain or even grow sales but at the expense of margins as costs of servicing online orders decimate profits.

“I think that grocery and fast moving consumer goods retailers need to consider several key things as they move online,” said Heather Hawkins, Marketing Strategist at Center for Advancing Retail and Technology. “The food business is splintering fast – look no further than the growth of home delivered meal kits (like Blue Apron), Uber and others delivering restaurant meals to the home, and the growing presence of Amazon. First, brick & mortar retailers need to move online as a defensive measure to protect their sales volume. Second, once online is established, retailers need to focus on making it profitable.”

A key suggestion for doing just that included focusing on fulfillment efficiency.  Supermarket retailers pay considerable attention to efficient operations within their stores and they need to do the same relative to picking, staging, and delivering online orders.

Leading solutions provide dedicated picking apps for a tablet device enabling staff to pick multiple orders on one trip through the store. These solutions leverage product location to route the picker through the store on the most efficient path. And these solutions provide handheld scanners along with integration to the store’s POS system so online orders are picked and scanned in one step and then exported into the POS system for recording sales.

Read the full article...

Supermarket Summer Camp?

Here’s an example of an innovative way to engage customers. SupermarketNews recently reported that Schnucks is offering a Summer Kids Cooking Camp!

Geared for children ages 5 to 12, the camp will run from late May through early August, and participants are given the option of registering for individual or week-long morning and afternoon sessions. Themes will include Hawaiian Luaus, Intergalactic Treats and Wizard-Worthy Meals.

“Kids will discover the full food exploration experience in these classes, whether they take one or several classes or a full session,” said Kara Belhke, registered dietitian and camp developer, in a statement.

“They will not only learn how to cook by following a recipe, but will also learn how to shop for nutritious foods, work with kitchen equipment, and participate in activities all focused around making food fun.”

3 Consumer Types Impacting Supermarket Decisions

There has been a shake-up in the grocery aisles for some time now according to an article posted by, a retail brand and printing consulting firm based in Ohio.

“Big changes have occurred as to how consumers are shopping, who is shopping, and when and what they are eating,” the article explains. “This shift disrupts the traditional ways of understanding and marketing to shoppers, making it more necessary for grocery retailers to adapt their merchandising efforts as shopper’s needs evolve.”

In support of this perspective, a recent Deloitte report indicates that today’s shoppers are using as many as 5 different retail channels to purchase groceries – trying to find the precise mix of value, quality and convenience. 61% are willing to drive farther for a lower price and 75% of consumers choose which store to do their shopping based upon the store’s produce department.

The three types of consumers that are impacting supermarket leaders’ decisions are:

  1. Millennial shoppers
  2. Health-conscious shoppers
  3. Budget-conscious shoppers

Read the full article…

The Supermarket Crystal Ball?

predict1In early 2014 posted an article about emerging trends within the grocery industry, indicating it was undergoing some of the most dramatic changes since supermarkets emerged in the 1940s.

We couldn’t agree more!

Aside from the steady trend toward on-line shopping that we’ve discussed in several posts, and in addition to a shift toward digital marketing, about which we have also written, other trends contributing to these changes, according to the article were:

1. Consumers are shopping across multiple channels

2. Private label is gaining popularity

3. Shoppers prefer smaller store formats

4. Fresh produce is a main driver 

Fast-forward to year-end, and it appears the “crystal ball” was working well, as these predictive trends seem to have been quite accurate…

For example, shoppers’ demand for fresh healthy foods coupled with their desire for indulgent foods have shaped the food retail business in Chicago, according to a recent Chicago Tribune report.

Also, a piece reported that food retailers are adjusting their promotional strategies as print media continues to lose ground to digital communication channels.

The article references a report, “2015 Advertising & Promotional Practices Among U.S. Supermarket Retailers,” indicating 54 percent of respondents expect to decrease their use of printed circulars during the next three years, and that every retailer surveyed said they expect to increase the incorporation of digital coupons in their marketing mix. Likewise, 100 percent of food retailers surveyed said they expect to leverage more mobile coupons and offers, and 92 percent said they expected to ramp up their use of e-mail for customer communications. Seventy-five percent said they expect to make more use of Facebook, and 70 percent said the same of Twitter.

Along similar lines, a mid-November Wall Street Journal article reported that 85% of high-income households (over $500,000/year) were making use of Amazon Prime for grocery purchases, primarily due to the convenience and programs such as “auto refill” and “one hour delivery” which simplified the shopping experience.

As the New Year dawns, it will be interesting to see what the experts predict for 2016… and we’ll be sure to share our research with you after the 1st!

The DeMoulas Saga Continues

The DeMoulas family (Market Basket Supermarkets) saga continues on… sadly.

Last week, the dysfunction between the two scions of the DeMoulas family, Arthur S. DeMoulas and Arthur T. DeMoulas, once again was played out publicly as Arthur S. DeMoulas had the board votes to remove the CEO, his cousin, Arthur T. DeMoulas.  Two other senior executives were removed at the same time.  Others have since resigned.

“Arthur T.” is beloved by the employees of Market Basket and there is concern as to how the employees and customers will react to his removal.  The customer service offered at Market Basket stores has been recognized as being among the best in the northeast.  Employees felt well taken care of with generous retirement plans and a workplace with a ‘family feel’.  Now, we wonder what the morale is like.

Beginning earlier this year and as noted in an earlier post, readers may recall that Market Basket offered a 4% discount on almost all products that was to be carried until the middle of December.  Arthur T. was quoted at the time that the customers needed the money more than he did.

Now, we are left to wonder what the next story line will be.  With the family history of the last 40 years, the next chapter will probably be in the public for all to see.  What effect, if any, do you think the change will have on employee service and customers?

Are Frozen Food Sales Heating Up?

frozenWhen you do your grocery shopping, are there aisles that you totally avoid? Maybe it’s pet supplies; maybe it’s the bread aisle… or if you are a millennial, maybe its the frozen food aisle?

In a recent Supermarket News report, “Firing Up Frozen: Re-energizing a Key Aisle of the Retail Food Store”, Raymond Jones, managing director of Dechert-Hampe & Co., said, “To many Millennial shoppers, anything not fresh is anathema, except for ice cream.  They view frozen foods as their parents’ or grandparents’ thing.”


And yet, frozen foods are a $ 50 Billion+ market and it’s not all grandmothers who are doing this shopping!

We have written previously about Trader Joe’s and its appeal to a wide range of shoppers.  The last time we were at Trader Joe’s, the store was full of frozen food cases… and people of all ages were buying those products!

As the Frozen Food Roundtable suggests, “Frozen is how fresh stays fresh.”

So… there appears to be a significant opportunity for both manufacturers and supermarkets to increase sales in the frozen aisles.  Do you see opportunities and activities in the stores you shop at… to really merchandise frozen foods?

Are Supermarkets Ready to Compete with Amazon?

Costco, WalMart, Target, Sam’s Club, Walgreen’s, Rite Aid, CVS…all of these companies have impacted and continue to impact the food retailing world. 

And then, there is Amazon…
“Amazon is the push that will make everyone change. Food retailers can’t dismiss it. They can’t say it’s too expensive, it’s too this, it’s too that,” says Deborah Weinswig, an analyst covering retailing at Citi Research

Whether you like Amazon or not, it has changed…and is continuing to change the world.  Think about all of the data that supermarkets collect, and then think about Amazon and what it has learned from all of that data and how it uses that data to help itself and its customers!  They are a fierce competitor.  Just ask IBM, who lost out on a $600MM contract with the CIA for cloud computing.  

Amazon is setting its sights on the food market…they are opening distribution centers with a variety of pick-up and delivery options.  They might be coming to your area. 

Are you ready to compete with them?

Top Ten Supermarket Shopping Experiences!

We polled a number of people this month, asking each to answer the following two questions:

  • What was the best customer service or shopping experience you’ve had this past year while you were shopping for groceries in a supermarket?

  • What was the worst customer service or shopping experience….

This week, the “Top 10 Best Supermarket Shopping Experiences” in no particular order:

  1. When I am looking around and can’t find something and I obviously look like I am trying to find something, a store associate notices and asks, “Is there something I can help you find?” Or when I ask a store associate for help finding an item, I like it when they take the time to walk with me or lead me to the area where the item is “supposed to be” located.

  2. When the Arnold bread man was stocking bread, and was in my way and I had to ask him to pass me a loaf of bread, he was polite, said no problem and thanked me for buying Arnold bread.

  3. When the store is responsive…they see lines developing…(not just long lines, but anticipating the lines), call associated from other parts of the store and open new lines….

  4. When the store associate calls someone out when they have lots more items than the 12 or less that they are supposed to have in the quick line…..they did it politely and the customer had not just 12 or 14 items, but 20+, so it was obvious that they were taking advantage…

  5. Free samples, either at the Deli so I can make the best buying decision or when they offer general samples… everyone is trying items….and then they tell you exactly where to find them in the store!

  6. When the cart gatherers in the parking lot stop and help me load my car!

  7. When I called the store to tell them that I had some bad produce, they told me just to stop in at the customer service counter next time I was in the store and bring my receipt and they would credit me….as opposed to the store that wanted me to bring back the rotten strawberries….like I was going to hold on to them and keep them until I went back to the store!

  8. When I was buying a cake and needed it decorated with Happy Birthday X, there was no one available to do the writing…..I asked the person if I could do it and they said sure, and loaded up the icing gun so I could do the writing and buy the cake right then.

  9. When I was shopping for avocados and they were all very, very hard… I asked the Produce Manager if they had additional stock. He said, “No, everything is out on display.” My expression must have given away my frustration – I was planning to make guacamole dip that evening… – so he asked me if I could wait just a minute. He went into the stock room and returned with avocados that had been identified as being “potentially over-ripe” and were, consequently, not put out for sale. They looked ideal to me – and the store only charged me half price!

  10. Last year I was sick during the holidays and was late getting to the store. It was the Wednesday before Christmas and I needed a twenty-plus pound frozen turkey. But the store only had small ones left… and it was after 8pm so there was no one working behind the meat counter! I asked a store clerk, who said everything was out… he suggested I buy two smaller turkeys, but I really didn’t want to do that. I then found the store manager. She was super!!  Not only did she stop to look in the stock room, but she found a 22 pounder! It was fresh, not frozen, but it made my Christmas!

Have you got a good story to add?