Tag Archives: customer engagement

The Shopping “Experience” at Walmart?

For some time now, retailers of all types have been using their imaginations in an effort to provide a memorable and pleasant shopping experience as they do their collective best to ward-off the allure of on-line shopping.

A good example of this was shared in a recent SupermarketNews article, which reported that Walmart has introduced “Walmart Drive-In,” a movie theater experience for families created in partnership with the Tribeca Film Festival. The “drive-ins” will make their world premiere on August 14 in the parking lots of 160 Walmart stores across the country, and will be free.

The article goes on to explain the current plan for the outdoor cinemas, which will run from August 14 through October 21 with 320 showings of popular, family-friendly movies.

Read the full article…

Great Customer Service Story at Hannaford!

My wife is still recuperating from a broken ankle, and finds it difficult to walk through the grocery store. Consequently, I’ve been doing the majority of our food shopping, equipped each trip with a list and very specific instructions!

This past week, however, we were in need of a Boston Fern for our back porch and the odds of my selecting the properly-sized and conditioned plant were not good. So off we went, first to the nearest garden center, then to one of the big box hardware-and-more stores. Neither had a suitable choice, so we switched gears and headed toward the local Hannaford Brothers supermarket.

The effort of walking through the first two stores was taking it’s toll, so my wife opted to call the supermarket to see if they even had any ferns.

Our car is equipped with Blue Tooth, and I heard the person working in the produce department answer the phone with a cheery tone. He listened carefully to my wife’s query about the right-sized Boston Fern…

“Well we have one fern left in stock,” the man said. “And I think you’ll like it! It has done well under the store lights and we keep up with watering and care.”

“Okay, sounds promising,” came the reply.

“I’d be happy to put it on hold for you… how long before you can get to the store?”

“We’re actually pulling into the parking lot right now,” my wife told him.

And then, without having any possible way of knowing about my wife’s healing ankle, he offered to bring the fern outside for us to see!

“Just drive-up,” he said enthusiastically. “I’ll be the guy standing in front of the store holding a Boston Fern!”

Without having to leave the car we were able to determine that the fern was, in fact, in good condition; and it was the right size! The Hannaford Associate then waited while I parked the car, and walked with me to the “self checkout” aisle inside, where he helped me quickly process the transaction.

It was, I thought, a great example of customer service, which will keep us coming back!


New Payment System at Wal-Mart Aims at Improving the Shopping Experience!

Wal-Mart Stores recently announced it was launching its own payment system as part of its mobile application — a solution the company said would speed checkout in stores while further connecting the retailer to its shoppers.

According to a recent Supermarket News article, the application will be available in select stores beginning this month with a nationwide roll-out expected in the first half of next year.

“This positions Walmart as the only U.S. retailer to offer a mobile payment solution that works with any device, and with any major credit card, debit card or Walmart gift card,” the company said.

Payment joins a host of additional capabilities on the app including existing features like virtual receipts, prescription renewals, store navigation, shopping lists and the Savings Catcher, which rewards shoppers the price difference of items found at a lower price at a competitor

“Walmart Pay is not about improving payment just for payment’s sake,” added Daniel Eckert, SVP of services for Walmart. “It’s about how we can use payment to create a better shopping experience for our customers in our stores.”

Sounds like another example of customer service leading the way!


Surprise: Who Favors Discount Grocery Shopping On-line?

whyonlineA recent Lempert Report video published on SupermarketNews states that high-income earners are most likely to shop at on-line discount food shopping sites such as Amazon.

The piece cites a study done at the Shullman Research Center that found 83% of households with earnings of $500,000 per year or more were regular shoppers on Amazon Choice.

Lempert goes on to share details about how Amazon is responding to this demand for “convenience” by offering enticements such as one-hour delivery and “product refill” services.

Seems like  a good example of a retailer responding to customer preferences and finding innovative process improvement opportunities that are resulting in higher-levels of customer service.

See the video…

Good Examples & Comments About Supermarket Customer Service

customergoodAs grocery shoppers, we all have our opinions about what constitutes good customer service, and many of us have stories to tell about our good and not-so-good experiences.

customerbadHere are a few comments and examples that we researched from various web sites and blogs:

“People are quicker to share negative feedback than positive feedback. ”

“I was shopping at a Trucchi’s Supermarket during a torrential downpour and one of the associates was standing there dripping wet. Turns out that an elderly couple had “lost” their car. (They were adamant that it had been stolen.) While they remained dry, he had searched for their vehicle, located it and then drove it to the door to pick them up. When they both began getting into the back seat, he had to tell them that he wasn’t able to drive them home.”

“Good customer service starts with the employees. It is so important that employees are friendly as well as professional and knowledgeable. I’m amazed by stores or companies that have staff that look bored and disinterested. It’s such a poor reflection on the business.”

“I don’t really have any stories about good customer service because I’m already expecting that it should be that way in the beginning. Bad customer service are the experiences that are hard to forget in my opinion, there’s nothing more frustrating than having that kind of experience.”

“An 89-year-old grandfather got snowed-in a couple years ago and didn’t have much in the house for meals. His daughter called several markets in the area to see if any of them had grocery delivery services, but the only one that said they did was Trader Joe’s. They don’t, actually, but were willing to help out this WWII vet. As the man’s daughter placed an order, the Trader Joe’s representative on the phone recommended other items that would be good for her dad’s low-sodium diet. An up-sell, you may be asking? Nope. They didn’t charge her a dime for the delivery or the groceries.”

Shopping Experience at Trader Joe’s: People Make the Difference

In an interesting article published at forbes.com, David DiSalvo, author of “Brain Changer: How Harnessing Your Brain’s Power to Adapt Can Change Your Life” and the best-selling “What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite” writes, “Walking into a Trader Joe’s, my demeanor is noticeably different than when I’m shopping anywhere else.”

DiSalvo goes on to explain this phenomenon, suggesting it’s a combination of things that brings it about, including:

  • A respectable selection of sensibly priced offerings and an emphasis on freshness.
  • Average store size – they’re smaller than typical grocery stores, purposefully staying on the medium to small side at every location, which helps keep things cozy.
  • Strategic use of vibrant color and texture in displays, signage and décor.
  • The people who work there…
    1. Trader Joe’s hires people who are unabashedly engaged in what they do, and the difference they bring to their work changes customers’ psychological experience. There are emotional contagions in the air and customers catch an infectious psychosocial buzz.
    2. The environment in a TJ’s isn’t strictly commercial. It’s a community and employees interact like friends working together at jobs they genuinely enjoy. The company fosters an environment where collaboration is crucial… employees aren’t working independent retail jobs but rather working on interlocking pieces of a project, and that project is to make customers happy.
    3. Trader Joe’s employees are out there in the best sense of the term — you engage them, they engage back. There’s nothing robotic or scripted, and customers react well to authenticity.

“What this all amounts to is a shopping experience that changes my mind about shopping experiences.” DiSalvo explains.

“Trader Joe’s proves that even when you get the other elements of the experience right, people still matter most.”

Engaging Customers

A number of industry experts agree, supermarkets must become more innovative in their efforts to continually improve customer service and marketing.

For example, in a recent Supermarket News article, author Margaux Drake, a living well expert for a large supermarket chain and a WOTV 4 Women’s (ABC) Healthy Eats crew member, suggests taking care of customers while they travel by offering tips along with a dedicated display of healthy food and drink options that will pass through security and fit into carry-ons.

“With a bit of extra planning,” Drake explains, “your store can offer a more environmentally conscious journey too, so Mother Nature will be smiling as well.”

Among her top tips:

  1. Reusable stainless containers: They are durable, easy to clean and will last forever. When your customer arrives at their destination, they can give them a scrub and use them to store good-for-you snacks for the hotel room, beach or a day of sightseeing.
  2. Berries and wedges of kiwi offer bite size portions of low sugar deliciousness without the mess. The seeds and skin of the kiwi fruit are edible, eating the skin will only increase vitamin and fiber intake.
  3. Nuts… what could be easier to pack than raw nuts? No prep required, and the bit of fat in nuts will help ward off hunger as well.

Similarly, Supermarket Guru in a recent discussion Phil Lempert suggests retailers must find more creative ways to engage shoppers. His top three suggestions:

  1. Sample foods
  2. Cooking demonstrations
  3. Wine tasting

Maybe you have some creative ideas on how supermarkets might leverage creative thinking and innovation to engage their customers?


Innovative Customer Engagement at Whole Foods

spaAccording to a recent article in Boston Magazine, a brand new “Milk + Honey” spa is about to open in, of all places, a Whole Foods supermarket!

“Milk + Honey” is an Austin-based spa (Austin is also home to Whole Foods’ global headquarters) that focuses on healing, wellness, and relaxation through natural and organic products. Complete with manicures, pedicures, facials, waxing, hot shaves for the fellas, a shoe shine station, and good-for-you products, the spa will also boast a 110-space parking lot, a coffee bar, a smoothie and juice bar, and 50,000 sq. ft. filled with nutritious and healthy foods.

“This is our first spa in our region,” says Heather McCready, public relations manager for Whole Foods’ North Atlantic Region. “When the idea came up, we met with a number of spas and our core values aligned really well with Milk + Honey.”

This innovative approach to engaging customers and elevating the customer experience is impressive, for sure! It is also aligned with other data shared by the Natural Products Insider predicting the global market for food and drinks offering functional health benefits will continue to increase in size, with 26% growth forecast for 2015.


Customer Centricity in 2014: Good Isn’t Good Enough!

A recent article on cmswire.com, A Look Back: Still Searching for Optimal Customer Experience, posed some interesting questions for consumers and also shared some straightforward ideas on how organizations (including supermarkets) might improve the customer experience for their patrons.

Consider that 40 percent of the brands in Forrester’s 2014 Customer Experience Index (CXi) earned scores in the “good” category. But “for many, those scores are actually anything but good because those brands compete in industries where good is the norm. To really stand out, they need to be great,” noted Megan Burns, Forrester vice president and principal analyst serving CX professionals.

As Forrester sees it, companies have to do three things to optimize customer experience and build loyalty:

  1. Make customers feel valued
  2. Resolve customers’ issues or problems quickly
  3. Talk to customers in plain language

Sound simple? Maybe… But the article goes on to quote Leandro Perez, director of product marketing at Tibco, who wrote “While these drivers may seem obvious at first blush, it’s nonetheless amazing how many companies don’t effectively execute them. Ever. In fact, when was the last time a company you patronized did all three of these things during your interaction with them? Can you remember back that far? Frankly, a lot of companies can’t get past the first driver without failing spectacularly.”

What do you think?


Supermarkets Engaging Their Communities…

Recent research indicates that in addition to engaging employees and customers, many successful organizations have taken the concept a step further as they attempt to engage their communities.

Two supermarket chains that are doing exactly that are Delhaize America and Hannaford.

Delhaize America has committed to donating — and in some cases packaging and distributing — 500,000 meals to area food banks by the close of 2020 under its Food Lion Feeds program.  The program is geared to help families or individuals in the community who either struggle with hunger or may become food insecure, which has been defined as “they might have food for the first part of the week but as they enter the second part they may struggle with putting food on the table…”

Food Lion has also partnered with Electrolux and Crisis Ministries in the Charlotte, NC area to help give needy families the perfect holiday fest: a $50 Food Lion gift card, a new oven range and a slow cooker.

In a similar effort toward engaging their community in Albany, NY, Hannaford has opened a community wellness center that offers group exercise, weight management programs and personal training. The 5,277-square-foot “Healthy Living Center,” located inside a Hannaford supermarket, is the result of a partnership between the Hannaford, the Capital District YMCA and health insurer CDPHP.

Along with fitness, the center offers programs that address specific health needs, such as Pedaling for Parkinson’s and diabetes prevention.

These represent two excellent examples of community engagement, which seems even more relevant during this time of year.

Possibly one of your local supermarkets has become involved in a similar community engagement effort?