Tag Archives: food shopping customer experience

Emerging Supermarket Trends Show More Customer-Driven Decision Making

A recent SupermarketNews article reported that supermarket prepared food departments have become more robust and that many chains have  have added more trained staff and extra amenities while decreasing the number of offerings. The data is based on the results of a new FMI study.

Some interesting discoveries from the survey include:

  • Nearly 90% of banners now employ a corporate executive chef
  • 60% of banners employ chefs in at least some of their stores
  • Supermarkets are attracting people from the business side of restaurants and food service
  • 96% of supermarket banners are offering in-store seating in at least some of their stores
  • 86% provide free Wi-Fi

I’d say these interesting new developments are geared toward providing a better shopping experience, and serve as further evidence that more and more decisions within the industry are being made with the customer in mind.



Are Supermarkets Focused on “Core” Customers?

A recent article in SupermarketNews cited a study from The CMO Club and IBM, which showed that Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) are finally shifting resources from customer acquisition to retention and loyalty.

The benefits of retention have been well documented over the years, says author Simon Uwins, former CMO of Tesco. “With customers today so easily able to share their opinions, it’s become even more essential for every brand to look after its core customers.”

This is just as true for supermarkets the article suggests, indicating that 60%-70% of turnover is typically accounted for by only 20% of customers. And the growing number of new or revamped loyalty programs does indeed suggest a renewed focus on retention.

However, looking after core customers is more than just a loyalty program. Among the questions management might ask to determine if their company or supermarket is focused on their core customers:

  1. How well do we know our core customers?
  2. How well do we understand them?
  3. Do we make them feel appreciated?

Supermarkets Health & Wellness Strategies Impact Customer Experience

A recent Supermarket News article says supermarkets need health and wellness strategies as much as their shoppers do. Natural, organic and better-for-you products have become proven winners, so the big question now is how can retailers best succeed in the face of increased competition?

Here are five key takeaways from the second annual Health & Wellness Summit sessions:

  1. Wellness products, especially natural and organic, are outperforming compared to most other supermarket segments
  2. Stores need to commit to action because retail competitors are growing their assortments of natural and organic products
  3. Supermarkets need to make informed decisions on a range of store merchandising topics to boost wellness strategies
  4. Retailers can’t do health and wellness alone. They need collaborative relationships with strong suppliers
  5. Supermarkets need to look at health and wellness holistically, as part building an exciting customer experience overall

    Read More… | Comment…

Customer Service – “It’s About Time” Says Sprouts Farmers Market

Earlier this month SupermarketNews reported an innovative approach to customer service by Sprouts Farmers Market.

In an effort to better accommodate convenience minded shoppers at dinnertime, Sprouts is investing in additional grab-and-go options ranging from sushi to rotisserie chicken, which will be made available to early-evening shoppers who might be time-challenged to put dinner on the table.

“We’ve traditionally done really well with the 12 o’clock customers with lunches and sandwiches,” Donna Egan, spokeswoman for the Phoenix-based natural foods retailer said. “But we’re working to improve the offerings around 5 o’clock or 6 o’clock.”

The article went on to explain how revamped prepared food offerings are rolling out through both store renovations and new store designs with expanded prepared foods in mind. The offering is targeted toward helping shoppers do more of their overall shopping at Sprouts while responding to consumer demand for greater convenience and on-the-go lifestyles typical of younger shoppers.

I, for one, would find this helpful… would more ready-to-serve options make dinnertime shopping easier for you?


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.


Creating a Great Customer Experience!

customerexperienceWhile a supermarket chain and an airline are very different types of businesses, they do share (as all businesses do) a need to satisfy customers and to provide customer service.

A recent LinkedIn Pulse article shared a moving customer service story, and also listed the following simple (but not necessarily easy!) examples of how to provide a “great” customer experience:

General airlines (businesses) are evaluated based on their ability to keep a schedule.

Good airlines (businesses) are evaluated based on compete their record with each others on who has the best on-time departure (delivery/response, etc.) record.

GREAT airlines (businesses) are evaluated based on their ability to create GREAT experience for their customers.

How can your business (supermarket) go about providing “great” customer experiences?


Another Chain on the Rise?

growth2Our last few posts have been about Market Basket, where employees and customers seem to have banded together to try to save the culture at Market Basket—a culture where service, low prices, and employee engagement are the norm. There is no clear outcome yet. But there are so many other stories about the supermarket industry…

According to a recent article in Retailing Today, for the fourth year in a row, Aldi’s has been recognized as the low price leader. But low prices aren’t the only story at Aldi’s. “Aldi maintained a top five ranking in the categories of good private label brands, accurate pricing and tags and sustainable environment / green policies. It also earned top-five rankings in three new Market Force categories such as courteous staff, fast checkout and nutrition/health information.”

And if you don’t have any Aldi’s near you, just wait!

According to this recent article, Aldi operates 1,300 stores in 32 states and plans to open 650 stores this year.


Market Basket Discount is Only Part of the Value Proposition

4percentAt local Market Basket stores, each employee wears the button shown in the picture.

From now until December 27, 2014, every customer receives a 4% discount on every order and every product, no exceptions.  On the sales slip when customers check out, the 4% is highlighted.

This is on top of the fact that generally, Market Basket has lower prices than its two biggest local competitors—Shaw’s and Hannaford.

Is it a marketing ploy?

Maybe…  but if it is, it sure seems successful.  The new and renovated local stores are busy with shoppers.  We asked several shoppers what they thought.  Even the most cynical shopper appreciated the lower prices, although there were a few who wondered if the prices had recently increased too.

Some shoppers also noted that they believed that Market Basket had the best and most friendly customer service. If so, then the extra 4% is only one part of their value proposition

Food Shopping Decisions: Is it Really All About Price?

Consumers may consider high prices when they “dump” their favorite supermarkets, but is it really all about price? 

In last week’s post, we commented on Consumer Reports’ naming of Wegmans as the #1 Supermarket in the USA. 

Another interesting part of that same report was a discussion on why consumers stop shopping at various supermarkets.  Last year, about 1/3 of the consumers surveyed said that they had stopped shopping at their regular grocery store…and the biggest, but not only reason, was price.  In previous years, the reasons given for ‘dumping’ super markets were poor selection or quality of items, lack of cleanliness, and long wait times at checkout in addition to price.  Some of the top supermarkets in this year’s ranking scored the highest rating on price — Trader Joe’s, Costco, Market Basket, Fareway Stores,  Stater Bros., Winco, and Aldi.

So, what truly differentiates one supermarket chain from another?  My friend Doug Hall of Innovation Engineering, has often said, “if you aren’t meaningfully unique, you better be cheap”.  Too many chains give consumers few reasons to judge them on attributes other than price.  

Still, Wal-Mart, the supermarket that most consumers think of as the lowest of ‘low prices’ also had the lowest rating of any supermarket.  Considerations that bothered Wal-Mart shoppers were out-of stocks and lack of open check-out lines.  Aldi was found to have prices 20+ % lower than Wal-Mart.. 

Supermarket Shoppers Might Be More Selective Than We Think

A recent piece in New Hampshire Business Journal (February 6, 2014) referenced a study by Catalina Marketing which conducted a year-long study of the purchasing behavior of 32 million shoppers.

The study, which was published 12/6/13, is called, ‘Engaging the Selective Shopper.”  9,968 stores participated in the study and those stores averaged 35,372 UPCs.  Some of the interesting findings:

  • Over the course of a year, shoppers purchase less than 1% of the available UPC’s in the stores where they shop.  Over the course of a year, the shoppers bought an average of 260 different items
  • The BuyerGraphicsTM of each shopper are unique and shoppers across age and income are similarly selective
  • Promotions may not be as useful as retailers think or hope.  When Catalina studied one major retailer’s promotional flyer, 67% of shoppers did not buy even 1 of the 1,172 advertised items.  They then looked at the following week’s flyer (from the same retailer) and 74% of the baskets did not contain even one of the items promoted in the flyer.