Tag Archives: supermarket shopping experience

SCO or MCO?

A recent SupermarketNews article reported that the number of Self Checkout lanes (SCOs) in the U.S. has increased 10% in the last five years, estimating that they now account for nearly 40% of lanes in grocery chains in the U.S. 

Sharing data from shopper intelligence leader Catalina, the article also reported that more retailers are make shifts from manual to SCO lanes to offset “shrinking margins from inflation, respond to social distancing protocols triggered by the pandemic, and take advantage of automation technology.”

Based on a small local poll, we’ve concluded that shoppers most often prefer the self checkout option when:

  • Processing smaller orders
  • Processing orders without coupons
  • Processing orders without alcohol

Some additional insights presented in the article based on the Catalina data included 39% of shoppers used both lane types in 2021, depending upon their shopping mission. 49% of shoppers preferred the personal attention offered in the manned-only lanes (MCO), while only 12% of shoppers were steadfast SCO-exclusive fans. Breaking down the behavior of the hybrid shopper, their transactions were split 50-50 between MCO and SCO, with MCO accounting for 68% of sales and SCO for 32%.

Similar to our local findings, the study said SCO-only shoppers had smaller baskets and bought less than hybrid and MCO fans.

Generally speaking, it strikes us that offering a healthy mix of MCO & SCO options enables shoppers to leverage the technology to enjoy greater flexibility and convenience.

What’s your take?

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!

Top 5 In Customer Loyalty

A recent SupermarketNews article shared the results of consumer intelligence and marketing specialist InMarket’s Consumer Loyalty Report.

In the grocery sector the average score was 1.93. However, the top five finishers faired quite a bit better. The top 5 chains were:

  1. H-E-B’s with a score of 4.63
  2. Market Basket with a score of 3.9
  3. Kroger at 3.8
  4. King Soopers at 3.77
  5. Fry’s at 3.76

“Grocery stores like H-E-B and Kroger were subject to heavy inflation and supply chain issues, with grocery and food prices increasing by 6.4% year over year by November 2021,” InMarket explained.

“However, these chains all scored well-above average total consumer loyalty… as consumers again chose to shop with brands they knew would offer them the right price.”

What Supermarkets Can Learn from C-Stores

Several of our posts have focused on the importance of innovation and the customer experience, and how retailers must make continuous improvement in these areas a priority. Along those lines, a recent SupermarketNews article shared some interesting insights on the significant success the country’s 153,000+ convenience stores (c-stores) have experienced due to making ongoing improvements via “digital transformation.”

The piece quoted Scott Langdoc, a strategist specializing in the grocery chain, drug, and convenience/fuel retailing segments at Amazon Web Services, who said, “By focusing digital transformation efforts on supporting emerging customer journeys, optimizing product and service offerings, and prioritizing efficiency of retail operations, c-store retailers are working with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to double down on innovation while recovering revenue and attracting new customers.”

The article went on to explain the different product fulfillment expectations at c-stores, which include fuel fill-up, basic snack and beverage purchases, buying prepared foods like pizza or sandwiches, a quick errand for a household necessity or a combination of those scenarios.

Langdoc also noted that, more frequently, customers expect a personalized experience regardless of how or where they engage in the c-store.

Examples given included:

  • While a customer pumps fuel, they order a slice of pizza at the dispenser via a voice-activated order system and use their mobile phone to pay for both the pizza and their fuel.
  • A shopper buys a fountain drink in a store and gets a personalized discount to buy fuel as an incentive because the customer hasn’t purchased fuel at that station in the last month.
  • A customer grabs the items they want to buy at an Amazon Go store and walks out without having to stand in line to pay at a traditional cash register.

The Bottom Line
While recognizing that fuel remains the top selling c-store product category, the article concluded by suggesting, “in-store product sales and an extensive prepared food menu represent the largest overall sales growth categories, and on average, they are the biggest contributor to overall gross profit.”

Therefore, retailers should focus on capturing the broadest spectrum of transaction details possible and applying the analytics and machine learning to generate hyper-accurate predictions of future demand.

“This transaction detail can help optimize category plans, profitable private label assortments, high-selling menu offerings, and better in-store stock availability,” the article said.

Read the full article…

Holiday Marketing in Supermarkets

Spectrio is one of the nation’s leading end to end technology-enabled customer engagement marketing companies, and they shared some simple and innovative ideas for in-store holiday marketing.

Here are a few examples:

  1. Set the holiday mood in your store. First thing first, decorate and embellish your store so it has a holiday feel. Consider adding a few lights, holiday wreaths, or trees. Or, simply update your in-store digital signage so it includes relevant seasonal content.
  2. Create a holiday-themed in-store photo op. While you’re setting up your store for the holidays, create a specific scene that can be used as a great holiday-themed photo op. A photo op is a background or unique element that customers take a photo of and share on social media. This helps spread your brand across social media as people share their user generated content.
  3. Design a high-quality holiday overhead music playlist. It’s not enough to just put on a holiday music radio station. You should curate and use a high-quality overhead holiday music playlist. What makes it high-quality? It’s a list of songs that will please customers — but not annoy your employees.
  4. Infuse your store with holiday scents. Amplify the season by tying it to the sense of smell. Use scent marketing to add fresh holiday smells to your store like peppermint, evergreen, or pumpkin spice.
  5. Update your website. As you create holiday promotions, make sure customers know about them in your store, as well as online. Update your website so customers can clearly see the holiday specials and deals you’re offering. You might also consider combining this step with an email campaign. Spread the message about your holiday promotions by creating email campaigns to send to your customer list. Don’t just send one email. Create a plan for promoting up to the holiday and featuring individual sales, deals, and events.
  6. Create a plan to give back. Don’t make the holiday season all about buying gifts. Also, focus on giving back. Partner with a local charity and donate proceeds or run a food, gift, or clothing drive to spread holiday cheer with your local community.

Giant Eagle Pharmacy Customers: Just Ask Alexa!

According to a recent SupermarketNews article, Giant Eagle, a Pittsburgh-based food and drug chain, has formed an arrangement with Amazon’s Alexa virtual personal assistant to help keep pharmacy patients up to date on their medications. They are the first pharmacy retailer to offer the new medication management capability with Alexa.

The process appears to be straightforward, the article explains. “Under a collaboration with Amazon and medication management specialist Omnicell, Giant Eagle pharmacies now allow patients to set medication reminders and request prescription drug refills through Alexa. Users simply speak to an Amazon Echo device by saying ‘Alexa, manage my medication’ or “’lexa, refill my prescriptions,”’and the request is met using the patient’s prescription information at their designated Giant Eagle pharmacy.”

Aside from the associated convenience, the program’s objectives include helping people avoid non-adherence to prescription dosage plans (a major issue for some resulting in negative health care outcomes) and to simplify the refilling process.

“Integrating with Amazon Alexa makes it possible for patients to manage their medications by simply using voice, providing greater independence for older adults and the ultimate convenient, frictionless patient experience for everyone,” said Danny Sanchez, Vice President and General Manager of population health solutions at Omnicell.

Another example of how innovation and process improvement can enable grocery chains to enhance customer service and improve the supermarket shopping experience.

Supermarket “Automation”

Related to recent posts about the trend toward online grocery shopping is a recent SupermarketNews article featuring input from Brick Meets Click co-founder Bill Bishop.

The piece is part of a twice-monthly series in which industry executives, experts and other grocery players share their insights about the news, trends and issues that matter most to retailers and their business partners.

In this installment, which also includes a Podcast, Bishop lists five ways that automation will impact grocery retail, which include:

  • Supermarkets will become more productive and, in turn, more competitive
  • A more educated and/or engaged and productive workforce will be attracted to food retailing
  • Automated order selection systems will replace or reduce self-service retailing
  • Technical breakthroughs will drive significantly lower retail costs
  • Customers will see a more personalized shopping experience.

“The world around us is changing very rapidly. Consumers are using digital aggressively, and it’s changing their expectations. Of course, that’s particularly strong among younger shoppers. Beyond that, competition is putting significant pressure on margins today. This automation technology is a way to maintain profitability,” Bishop said.

“Now we see automation stepping in with the opportunity to replace large sections of the supermarket,” he later explained. “That automation is able to operate in a much smaller footprint, and there’s significantly higher productivity.”

Read the full article/listen to Podcast…

Demand for Home Delivery of Groceries Continues to Spread

As you may know, “If you build it, they will come” is a phrase popularized in a sports movie. But the concept might also apply to the grocery business as the following developments indicate.

According to a recent SupermarketNews article, Uber Technologies Inc. announced plans to acquire majority ownership of Cornershop, a leading online grocery provider in Mexico and Canada. The acquisition is planned for early 2020, subject to regulatory approval.

“Whether it’s getting a ride, ordering food from your favorite restaurant, or soon, getting groceries delivered, we want Uber to be the operating system for your everyday life,” said Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO, Uber. “We’re excited to partner with the team at Cornershop to scale their vision, and look forward to working with them to bring grocery delivery to millions of consumers on the Uber platform.”

The Cornershop app or website enables customers to order groceries for delivery. Cornershop employees then go to participating grocery stores to pick and pack their orders. Customers are called at the end of each shop, and they can approve any replacements or request another item to be added to the cart.

In another report, Giant Food of Landover, Md., a chain of 163 supermarkets in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, D.C. announced the launch of an enhanced service they call “Giant Delivers.”

This refreshed version of a previous delivery program is part of Giant Food’s “The Little Things Are Giant” platform, “which is all about helping customers save time so they can get back to what matters most.”

The article went on to say that next-day home delivery from Giant Delivers is now available to over 6 million shoppers living in over 300 ZIP codes across the Washington, D.C., metro area. Same-day delivery is available within the downtown D.C. area, “offering a new way to fit shoppers’ busy schedules, especially those needing a last-minute ingredient or dinner solution.”

Giant’s grocery delivery service is available without commitment or subscription and offers customers the option to sign up anytime for unlimited deliveries for a one-time annual fee of $99, making weekly grocery delivery orders more convenient and affordable than ever, the article said.

Clearly the call for online grocery shopping options coupled with the convenience of quick home delivery continues to increase… and more supermarkets as well as related businesses are stepping-up to meet the demand.

Wakefern Focusing on Process Improvement & Customer Experience

Wakefern Food Corporation, a Keasbey, N.J.-based grocery retail cooperative, is planning a 50-store test of a computer vision system that automatically identifies when product stock runs outs on shelves.

As reported in a SupermarketNews article, once out-of-stocks are flagged, the system helps store associates prioritize them as they occur and recoup the most lost sales as possible per labor hour to make the most customers happy. The system keeps track of both lost sales per hour (LSH) and frustrated shoppers per hour (FSH). The company said this information enables them to track an “out-of-stock hours” metric that makes it easier for them to rack on-shelf availability of products from store to store.

“Focal Systems’ out-of-stock detection through computer vision and artificial intelligence has enabled us to automatically identify shelf gaps,” Wakefern Chief Information Officer Cheryl Williams said. “This early success has encouraged our members to opt into a 50-store pilot expansion this autumn.”

Focal noted that its platform allows store associates to spend more time serving customers because it eliminates the need to manually scan for out-of-stock items.

“Customer expectations are high, and retailers want to deliver on those expectations,” stated Focal CEO Francois Chaubard. “Focal Systems provides the real-time data retailers need to run their stores efficiently…”

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!