Tag Archives: supermarket customer service

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.

DogSpot at the Supermarket?

Happy Pets?

In case you haven’t heard, a DogSpot is a “smart sidewalk sanctuary, providing your dog a safe and cozy home away from home while you briefly go somewhere they aren’t allowed… without having to take risks like tying them up or leaving them in the car. “

According to a recent SupermarketNews article, Albertsons has become the latest supermarket chain to offer DogSpot. Other chains that have been testing the concept include Kroger and Stop & Shop.

“At Albertsons, we are always looking for ways to better serve our customers,” said John Colgrove, Albertsons intermountain division president.

DogSpot houses are app-connected and available on both iPhone and Android, offering customers quick and seamless access, according to the Brooklyn-based startup. Customers may reserve a house up to 15 minutes before use through the app if they’re anticipating a trip to the store or use an available house immediately upon arrival. The houses lock to allow only the customer’s specific app account access to the house while their dog is inside, to ensure the dog’s safety while the customer shops. They’re also temperature controlled with fresh air ventilation to keep an optimal temperature inside for the dog and equipped with UVC lights that sanitize the house automatically between each new session. Customers can monitor their dog through the DogSpot app’s puppy-cam feature while they shop. Cost is approximately thirty-cents per minute.

Another example of enhancing the shopping experience with higher levels of customer service and engagement!

New Level of Customer Service Goes “Beyond” Home Delivery of Groceries

Walmart is expanding the online grocery shopping experience by going “beyond” home delivery. According to a recent SupermarketNews article, certain Walmart stores are delivering groceries not just to more homes, but also inside them.

This new service will be launching in the fall when associates will deliver groceries right to a customer’s refrigerator, or to other designated areas inside shoppers’ homes, such as garages or pantries. Various methods are incorporated into the process to ensure security and to allow customers to actually view the delivery from remote locations.

“Online grocery remains a meaningful contributor to e-commerce growth,” Walmart’s Chief Financial Officer Brett Biggs is quoted to say in the article. “Customers continue to really appreciate our grocery pickup and delivery offerings as we scale them across the U.S., …they want product faster than ever before, and Walmart is the best-positioned in the industry to deliver grocery same-day.”

Groceries Delivered & Put-Away in Your Home?

According to a recent posting on techcrunch.com, Walmart has announced that it will begin testing a new service that will allow customers with August smart home devices, like the August doorbell and security cameras, to have their packages and groceries delivered inside their home instead of left on the doorstep. Grocery orders won’t just be placed inside the house like the packages, but will be put away in the fridge and freezer, when appropriate.

The retailer says it will soon start this test in the Silicon Valley area with select customers who have opted into to try the new service.

Sounds like continuous process improvement and the trend toward innovative customer service continues!

Read the full story…

Employee Engagement Might Be the Key Differentiator for Lidl

Based on statistics published by smallbusiness.chron.com,  employee turnover averages 100 percent in the grocery industry. Cashiers, order fillers and stock clerks have the highest turnover rates, and the cost of replacing just one supermarket cashier is at least $3,637.

But more troubling than the cost, this turnover has a negative impact on the customer experience.

This perspective is consistent with information shared recently on fooddive.com, which states, “Never mind store designs, or prices, or any of the other issues potential competitors have been concerned about: While those issues are all important, so are the ways employees are treated… retaining employees helps to build a cohesive team and a solid shopping experience.

The article goes on to cite the rapid growth of German grocery chain Lidl, whose accelerated U.S. expansion is making many take notice. The grocery chain’s first 20 stores will open this summer in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

But along the lines of engaging employees, the chain has a plan to attract and retain the best talent by offering one of the most generous benefits and compensation packages in the industry. “The program is designed to ensure that Lidl U.S. employees are recognized and rewarded for their talents, feel valued for their contributions and are motivated to continue to grow their careers with us,” the article said.

Store associates will receive starting salaries of $12 per hour, plus benefits, according to a Lidl press release.  Possibly more important than the robust pay rate is the robust benefits plan, which includes medical, dental and vision insurance with flexible spending accounts, a 401(k) and retirement plan with employer contribution, life insurance, disability insurance, an employee assistance program, paid time off, time off for volunteering, commuter benefits and company sponsored social and fitness events.

Clearly Lidl leadership has a strong appreciation for its workforce and values the concept of employee engagement. If the correlation between employee engagement and customer satisfaction proves true, which we believe it will, it will be interesting to see what happens over the course of 2017, during which time Lidl plans to open 100 U.S. stores.

Supermarkets Rank in Top 1/3 of Temkin Group NPS® Survey

A recent article, published by Customer Experience Matters, shared results of a survey that included Net Promoter® Scores (NPS®) on 315 companies across 20 industries based on a study of 10,000 U.S. consumers.

Supermarkets ranked sixth out of twenty, with an average score of 39.

The Top 10 and their average scores were:

  1. Auto Dealers: 48
  2. Software: 41
  3. Investment Firms: 40
  4. Computers & Tablets: 40
  5. Appliances: 40
  6. Supermarkets: 39
  7. Insurance Carriers: 37
  8. Airlines: 37
  9. Hotels :37
  10. Retailers: 35

In case you are curious, the bottom scoring industries were health plans (24), Internet service providers (16), and TV service providers (11).

It’s nice to see that supermarkets in general are above-average when it comes to customer service and satisfaction!

A Dining Partnership at Whole Foods

mendocinofarmsA recent SupermarketNews article shared details and some great photos of a shared dining solution being presented within a Whole Foods store in California.

According to the article, Mendocino Farmsa family-owned business specializing in “an elevated dining experience,” opened its first location within a Whole Foods Market in Tustin, California. The 140-seat shared dining room within the store includes a bar with craft beer and wine, and the grocer’s typical prepared foods.

Whole Foods has been adding outside local restaurant operators to its food line up in stores across the country, the article explained.

The grocery chain’s relationship with Mendocino Farms also included a minority investment that will help the better-sandwich concept grow.

 

Supermarket Dining!

supermarketdiningWe all know that the trend toward providing a more enjoyable and diverse shopping experience has been prevalent in the supermarket world. So it comes as no surprise that food stations that resemble quick-service or fast-casual restaurants are on the rise at supermarkets, emerging as a natural extension of the traditional deli counter.

But a  SupermarketNews article reports that ten years ago Whole Foods Market, Wegmans, and the Texas chain Central Market began to experiment with bringing a high-quality dining experience into their stores.

While the full-service restaurants have been slower to catch on, some chains, such as Wegmans and Price Chopper have found success with the concept, the article said.

A more recent Boston.com article shared numerous examples of how an increasing number of supermarkets in greater Boston are winning fans with affordable, high-quality restaurants.

As new supermarkets spring up, plans invariably include kitchens run by chefs, dining facilities, and more-in-store classes, the article said, citing as an example the Whole Foods in Dedham, Massachusetts, which has a glassed-in Wellness Club. Others feature live music and poetry slams, and the Shaw’s at Boston’s Prudential Center conducts nightly wine tastings!

Supermarkets may not have yet achieved the level of customer service associated with more traditional hospitality organizations, such as Ritz Carlton, but they certainly seem to be on the right track toward greater levels of customer service and engagement.