Tag Archives: supermarket customer service

PBH to Connect Produce Industry With Retail Dietitians, Foodservice Leaders

According to a recent Progressive Grocer article, the  Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) will bring a number of retail dietitians and foodservice leaders to its 2022 Retail & Foodservice Immersion Event in October.

Adding a new twist to past practices, PBH will “include a group of foodservice leaders to further support the produce industry’s need to meet consumers where they are influenced to choose fruits and vegetables at the point of purchase.”

Retail and foodservice leaders will also have access to the latest produce innovations and new consumer research, along with tools to spur new fruit and vegetable consumption habits among customers.

“PBH is thrilled to be back in person supporting one of the industry’s largest trade shows, as well as connecting produce companies directly with consumers through the various points of influence – including at the point-of-sale (retail) and at the point-of-flavor (culinary and foodservice),” noted Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, president and CEO of Brentwood, Mo.-based PBH, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. “The goal of this signature PBH event is to provide retail and foodservice leaders with actionable education and intimate networking experiences that inspire them to get creative with fruits and vegetables and take back ideas and solutions that help drive produce consumption and purchases in their stores, in e-commerce and in dining establishments nationwide.”

Participating retailers are:

  • Big Y Foods
  • Coborn’s, Fresh Thyme
  • The Giant Co.,
  • Harmons Grocery Stores
  • H-E-B
  • The Kroger Co.
  • Loblaws
  • Natural Grocers
  • Rouses, ShopRite-Inserra Supermarkets Inc.
  • Stop & Shop
  • United Supermarket
  • Wegmans Food Markets
  • Weis Markets

Read the full article…

Supermarkets Among America’s Best Retailers

A recent SupermarketNews article reported several supermarkets have been recognized as being among the country’s best retailers.

Based on a survey of more than 10,000 U.S. consumers who have shopped in-person inside retail stores in the past three years, Newsweek’s 2022 America’s Best Retailers list ranks companies according to five criteria:

  • Products
  • Customer service
  • Atmosphere
  • Accessibility
  • Shop layout

In addition, the survey also asked about the likelihood of the respondent to recommend a retailer to friends and family. Overall, over 150,000 evaluations were collected on retailers in 39 categories. The top three to 10 retailers (based on category size) receiving the highest scores in each category were recognized as America’s Best Retailers for 2022.

Wegmans Food Markets, Publix Super Markets, and Harps Food Stores garnered the top ratings for supermarkets, followed by Sprouts Farmers Market and Whole Foods Market.

Top finishers in the discount supermarket chains list included Trader Joe’s, 99 Cents Only Stores, and Aldi.

Read the full article… 

Supermarket Employee Day!

Today is “Supermarket Employee Day!”

A recent SupermarketNews article shared an update, which indicated that following the success of last year’s inaugural Supermarket Employee Day, FMI-The Food Industry Association is once again celebrating the grocery industry and its workers today, as part of the now annual event.

FMI noted that, “The Supermarket Employee Day’s return reflects the enthusiastic response to its launch last year, including participation from nearly every level of FMI membership, from retailers and wholesalers to suppliers and state association partners.”

The piece went on to quote Leslie Sarasin, FMI President and CEO, who said, “Grocery stores are a critical part of the fabric of our communities. They are the essential pipeline in providing the food and consumer goods necessary to sustain the health and well-being of their friends, neighbors and customers. As the global pandemic persists, supermarket employees remain committed to providing the services, resources and support families need to stay nourished, safe and healthy.”

While many stores struggle to maintain staffing and service levels, it’s nice to see people being recognized for their effort and service, and nice to see store management working to maintain employee engagement levels!

Order lunch from the supermarket?

A recent SupermarketNews article announced Instacart is helping supermarkets better compete with restaurants with the rollout of Ready Meals, a new prepared meal ordering and delivery service for grocery stores.

According to the article, chains such as Publix Super Markets, Kroger and Ahold Delhaize USA’s Giant, Food Lion, Hannaford, Stop & Shop and Martin’s are offering customers the service via the Instacart app’s Ready Meals Hub, a new in-app destination for prepared foods.

Deliveries are made to homes or offices in as soon as 30 minutes, Instacart said.

Another good example of supermarkets finding innovative ways to provide a better customer experience!

Tech-Driven Improvements an Emerging Trend in Supermarkets

The mounting demand for e-commerce due to COVID-19, and the expectation that it will be necessary to continue offering many of the “new normal” services post-COVID, has resulted in a number of grocery chains making major changes to their infrastructure and improvements in their processes.

As reported by SupermarketNews, some of the process and facility enhancements include:

  • Conversion of store or shelf-space to accommodate online order fulfillment
  • Creation of automated micro-fulfillment centers (MFC’s) to support automated fulfillment for grocery delivery, sometimes referred to as “dark stores” since they have no retail space
  • Curbside pickup
  • Installation of automated pickup points, enabling customers and delivery personnel to drive up, scan a code and retrieve their orders

The expectation is that those retailers who are able to convert store space or operate MFC’s will be better able to scale their business as the demand for e-commerce continues to grow.

“For grocers to adapt and stay relevant — and for consumers to eat the cost of the last mile — grocery retailers need to embrace curbside pickup,” said Rob Wilson and Shang Saavedra in a recent report from L.E.K. Consulting.

“Given that stores are designed for optimal in-store shopping, it’s often inefficient for staff to wander through aisles to assemble orders and, when it comes to operating margins, far from sustainable. Moreover, stores have been forced to quickly create online pickup areas, leading to messy front-of-store experiences for consumers.”

Clearly the costs associated with some of the major changes such as building stand-alone MFC’s favor the larger retailers. One possible solution for smaller chains might be the use of “solution partners” to get the job done.

Either way, and as noted in a recent SupermarketNews article, all indicators say that online grocery shopping and curbside pickup are here to stay.

Supermarkets Providing COVID Solutions

As reported in several Supermarket News articles, supermarkets are stepping-up to help customers more easily protect themselves from the pandemic.

Some specific examples of what might be considered an “extra” component of the customer experience:

  • Publix expanded COVID-19 vaccinations to over 100 pharmacies, expanding their collaboration with the state of Florida to 12 counties.
  • H-Vee expanded its coronavirus diagnostic services, and is planning to offer COVID-19 rapid antibody testing at more than 250 pharmacy locations.
  • Ralphs launched a program for administering COVID-19 vaccinations.
  • Meijer partnered with the state of Michigan and will administer COVID-19 vaccine at select stores in Wayne County to patients 65 or older.
  • Wegmans has partnered with state and local government officials to offer the COVID-19 vaccine at select pharmacy locations in New York State, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.
  • H-E-B has launched a registration portal on its website for people who are looking to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and is administering doses as supplies last.
  • Walmart will start providing inoculations in the city of Chicago as well as in Indiana along with six other states. The company has already been providing vaccinations in New Mexico and Arkansas.

DoorDash Now Offering On-demand Grocery Delivery

According to a recent article published by Restaurant News, “last-mile” food delivery provider DoorDash is now offering on-demand grocery delivery arena, led by the launch of its new DashPass service.

DashPass enables customers to place orders with participating grocery retailers at DoorDash.com or via the DoorDash mobile app and have their groceries delivered directly to their homes by DoorDash.

Defined as the movement of goods from a transportation hub to the final delivery destination, the focus of “last mile delivery” is to deliver items to the end user as fast as possible.

DashPass delivery service is provided via a $9.99 monthly subscription, for which members receive unlimited free deliveries and reduced service fees for orders of at least $12. Customers also can order groceries via DoorDash on a per-order basis for a $3.99 standard delivery fee (depending on the service area), with no minimum order amount.

In a separate article published by SupermarketNews, it was reported that DoorDash, which recently became publicly-traded, built its reputation as the country’s top food delivery provider by strategically going after suburban markets.

As consumers continue to exhibit an increasing demand for convenience as well as quality and choice, retailers and their strategic partners continue to respond with innovative solutions such as this.

Kroger’s Innovative Step-up

Spring-boarding from our previous post on emerging innovations within the supermarket industry, Kroger has exemplified such behavior by launching new new drive-thru test sites for coronavirus.

According to a recent SupermarketNews article, the chain will be offering free drive-thru testing for COVID-19 at 50 locations in more than 12 states by the end of May, and expects to have conducted up to 100,000 tests by that time.

So far, Kroger’s healthcare arm, said it has performed almost 8,000 tests in 30 locations.

The article goes on to quote Rodney McMullen, Kroger Chairman and CEO, as saying, “As part of Kroger’s commitment to help America reopen safely, we are proud to help expand access to COVID-19 testing as a partner in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Public-Private Testing Partnership.”

Not only is the drive-thru aspect of Kroger’s testing model innovative, but so too is their methodology. Their sites use anterior nares or mid-turbinate nasal swab tests, which are designed to increase safety. The tests are completed in just a few minutes using self-administered test kits, and results are expected within about 48 hours.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Bill Taylor, co-founder of Fast Company and the author of Simply Brilliant: How Great Organizations Do Ordinary Things in Extraordinary Ways shared some great examples of how bad times have brought out the best in people and organizations.

Possibly this free testing being offered by Kroger will be remembered as such in the future?

SpartanNash Reducing Food Waste & Enhancing Customer Service with Flashfood

An earlier post featured SpartanNash for leveraging technology to enhance their online and order pick-up processes. Today we once again focus on the company as they have launched an innovative program to reduce food waste while enhancing customer service.

According to a recent Progressive Grocer article, SpartanNash is piloting a Flashfood mobile app at five of its West Michigan Family Fare stores, allowing customers to purchase meat, produce, seafood, deli items and bakery products that are nearing their “best-by” date at up to 50% off.

As you may know, Flashfood is a Toronto-based mobile app that operates in more than 440 grocery locations throughout Canada and the US.

After downloading the Flashfood app, customers can select a participating Family Fare store, choose items, pay for them directly on the app, and then pick up their items at the store’s customer service counter, where the purchased items are stored in refrigerators.

“Customer convenience is key with the app,” said Matt Bennett, Director Retail Consumer Innovation at SpartanNash. “This app is a win-win for customers and the environment.”

Read the full article…

Tech Driving Customer Experience at SpartanNash

SpartanNash is leveraging GPS location technology to improve curbside service in its Fast Lane online grocery pickup program. According to a recent SupermarketNews article, a number of the chain’s locations are now using Radius Networks’ location-based FlyBuy Pickup service with ShopperKit’s in-store grocery fulfillment software to bring out Fast Lane orders to customers as soon as they arrive at the store.

Referenced as a “click-and-collect platform,” the process begins when a customer places a Fast Lane curbside order. The order is fulfilled and the customer is notified when their groceries are ready for pickup. The customer can then share their location via mobile apps or a web browser to let their Fast Lane personal shopper know they’re heading to the store. That allows customers’ orders to be prepared and delivered to their vehicles the moment they pull into the pickup area.

“This new technology will completely change our customers’ experience with Fast Lane,” said Brian Holt, vice president of marketing for SpartanNash.

“Fast Lane already provides exceptional customer service, with overall satisfaction scores 30 points higher than the national average, as well as some of the nation’s leading fulfillment rates. And our new GPS location technology will only improve the ease and speed of the Fast Lane experience.”

This is another good example of how today’s supermarkets are leveraging technology and continuous process improvement to drive customer service and the shopping experience.