Tag Archives: supermarket customer service

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.

 

Online Food Shopping Trend Continues to Grow

A recent SupermarketNews article reported that three sizable supermarket chains are enhancing their e-commerce offerings.

Albertsons is offering an introductory special in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for a program that involves a strategic partnership with Tom Thumb.  Shoppers will receive $10 off and free delivery for the first order placed online or via a Tom Thumb delivery app, with orders arriving at households within one-hour delivery windows.

Supervalu also announced that the company has been testing three e-commerce providers at its retail banners in separate markets, and that home delivery and click-and-collect options will be available by the end of the year in 25% of retail stores, which is about 50 stores.

Harris Teeter also announced plans to expand its e-commerce offerings through grocery delivery service Shipt to the Charlotte, N.C. metro area.

Charlotte customers who sign up for an annual membership with Shipt prior to the launch on Oct. 26 will receive $25 off their first order. According to the article, Shipt membership costs $99 per year for unlimited deliveries; delivery is free on all orders over $35.

It seems the trend toward online shopping is continuing to grow. While the vast majority of grocery shopping still takes place in stores, industry experts predict this pattern may change during the next decades.

Data provided by Statista indicate that this year approximately five-percent of U.S. consumers prefer shopping for groceries online. The total U.S. online grocery sales amounted to about 7 billion U.S. dollars in 2015 and are expected to rise to 18 billion U.S. dollars by 2020.

Is This the Future for Supermarkets?

robotsWhile several of our posts have discussed the emerging trend toward on-line grocery shopping options, a recent SupermarketNews article might be giving us an interesting glimpse into the future!

According to the article, self-driving robots capable of delivering groceries or restaurant meals are now being used in several European countries, and are also being tested in Washington, D.C.

Starship Technologies, an Estonian technology company established in 2014 by the co-founders of Skype, have developed the robots, which as you can see above resemble six-wheeled buggies.  Apparently these robots are capable of delivering up to 20 pounds of food, packages and goods to consumers within a short radius of their point of origin.

“They’re cost efficient, particularly for the kinds of small deliveries food retailers often find the most expensive,” said Henry Harris-Burland, Starship’s marketing and communications manager.

According to the article, the technology could cut costs to pennies per delivery, and allow for the delivery of even a single item to be profitable. Customers can place their orders on-line or through a mobile app, and a robot is dispatched to deliver in as soon as 15 minutes.

While this might all seem a bit futuristic, it strikes me as another step toward trying to cater to consumers’ demand for convenience, and toward providing a better, more customized shopping experience.

Thoughts?

Can Great Customer Service Reduce Shrink?

We all know about shrink… the loss of product inventory.

But a recent article published on datecheckpro.com offered some interesting perspective for supermarkets on how they might reduce shrink.

As you most likely are aware, shrink falls into two categories—operation management issues and theft. When shrink occurs in a supermarket, it differs from the retailers based on grocery items expiring. Supermarket shrinkage is usually higher than all retailers.

The article went on to cite a 2012 shrink study by The Retail Control Group, which indicated:

  • Operational factors contributed to around 2/3 of all retail shrink
  • Shoplifting accounted for 36 percent of all theft-related shrinkage
  • Cashiers account for 31 percent of theft and general employees another 25 percent
  • Vendor theft accounts for the remaining 8 percent of theft-related shrink

Solutions?

The article offered a few thoughts on reducing shrink.

  • Correcting ordering and receiving processes while maintaining an integrity driven inventory count, can help minimize losses from inventory problems
  • Minimizing damaged products by handling products carefully will add to the reduction of losses
  • The best ways to minimize theft is though great customer service, and by conducting thorough background checks when hiring employees
  • Train and compensate appropriately while maintaining positive working conditions (engagement!) to reduce internal theft by employees

For additional perspective on shrink and other common challenges faced by supermarkets, you might like to review this free whitepaper, “Supermarket Challenges & Opportunities” on our website.

Supermarket Shoppers Looking for “Customized” Solutions

Today’s consumers are looking for products that feel customized to their individual needs and wants, according to a recent SupermarketNews article.

The definition of “customized” may vary, according to a survey by Nielsen that is referenced in the article, and might include:

  • Convenience
  • Health and wellness
  • Package or portion size
  • Made-to-order deli meals

The bigger challenge for supermarket chains might be the simple fact that customer profiles can vary significantly from store-to-store, as noted by Jennifer Campuzano, director of fresh perishables at Nielsen.

“I think that to truly understand the personalization aspect, you need to understand the right products to carry by store. And to do that you need to understand who your customers are,” said Campuzano. “I don’t know that you can do this on a broad scale, because your customer base is going to change so much from store to store.”

It seems the trend of striving to meet customer preferences is continuing to grow, which we can only hope will lead to increasingly better levels of customer service and engagement.

Added Focus on Food Shoppers Aimed at Driving In-Store Traffic

Walmart’s  grocery aisles are getting an upgrade, according to a recent article in USA Today.

The company is hoping to entice customers and boost sales with more emphasis on organics, selection, wider aisles and new bakery goods.

“In the U.S., there’s been a really big step change in grocery retailing in terms of the standard of stores,” says Stewart Samuel, program director at IGD, an analytics firm that tracks grocery retailers.

The theory behind the change has been that by offering enhanced and more “exciting” products along with a greater shopping experience, supermarkets will draw more people into their stores; and the increased traffic will yield more revenue.

However the article also goes on to note that all supermarkets face multiple challenges to their overall business. First, a marked increase in on-line shopping, which means customers may be less likely to visit a store.

Plus, more big retail chains are making food a priority.

Looks like the battle for market share and wallet-share continues… and it’s nice to see that the customer experience has become a key driver!