Tag Archives: 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!

Innovation at H-E-B!

A recent SupermarketNews article reported that H-E-B has opened a state-of-the-art technology center in East Austin, Texas, that will serve as a “hub of innovation” for its digital team and Favor delivery service.

The article quoted Jag Bath, chief digital officer of H-E-B and CEO of Favor, who said, “The center will play an essential role in keeping both Favor and H-E-B as digital leaders.”

As we have previously shared, innovation and technology have become driving forces in the food industry. As summarized in an article posted on bouncepad.com, grocery shopping as we know it is shifting. Retailers are leveraging technology to target issues consumers have struggled with for years, now offering online shopping and home-delivery along with related offerings geared toward providing more convenience for busy shoppers.

In-store experiences have also begun to mold to the modern consumer, using integrated technology solutions and secure touch-points like tablet enclosures, which help supermarkets with cross-sell services, offer personalized deals, guide shoppers around the store and increase sales.

Click here for a slide show featuring H-E-B’s new technology center.

Kroger Opens Culinary Innovation Center – Improving CX!

A recent SupermarketNews article reported that The Kroger Co. opened a Culinary Innovation Center, which includes a commercial kitchen with multiple cooking stations, spaces and capabilities, along with technology that allows video streaming of educational sessions to Kroger associates across the country.

The renovations to the two-story brick building in downtown Cincinnati totaled $2.5 million, the article said.

“Kroger’s new Culinary Innovation Center is an exciting state-of-the-art test kitchen and education center,” said Daniel Hammer, vice president of culinary development and new business at Kroger.

“As we focus on redefining the customer experience and developing talent through food inspiration and uplift, as outlined in Restock Kroger, this R&D lab will allow us to accelerate product development for Our Brands, produce new recipes for Prep + Pared Meal Kits, explore new restaurant concepts, host food tastings and focus groups, and increase our associates’ culinary knowledge.”

Read the full article…

More “Food for Thought” Regarding Supermarket Customer Experience

A number of presentations at this year’s NRA Show in Chicago focused on how supermarkets and c-stores can build on some key elements of restaurant design to create a dining experience customers will seek out.

In other words, the combination of upscale design and finer dining options can be leveraged to make a supermarket or c-store a destination where customers feel welcome to stay, dine and enjoy.

“Consumers care about what the experience is like, and 90% of the information sent to the brain is visual,” Tré Musco of Tesser, a brand strategy design firm, said. “People form judgments instantaneously. In terms of design, perception is reality.”

But Tre Musco and other presenters also noted that, if a store is to become a place to enjoy a meal, customers must perceive it as such.

Some of the steps retailers will need to take in order to accomplish this include:

  • Lead with change… go beyond just “adding a few tables and chairs” and create a warm, comfortable, and alluring dining area.
  • Pay attention to details… such as food displays, lighting, and even restrooms. “Restrooms really matter,” Musco said. “Customers 100% judge your freshness and cleanliness on your restrooms.”

Read the full article… 

“Quick” Customer Experience Analysis

As you most likely know, “Omnichannel” refers to a type of retail that integrates the different methods of shopping available to consumers (i.e., online, in-store, phone…).

While some say the concept is just a fancier way of describing cross-channel sales, others profess that “Omnichannel” goes further to encompass the continuity of the shopping or customer experience (CX).

To further illustrate this perspective, Todd Leach
VP, Client Insights at Service Management Group (SMG), an organization that focuses on customer and employee experience, writes that Omnichannel is changing consumer expectations and, in one of his blog posts, suggests that “speed” is high on the expectation list.

“Above all else, speed means seamless,” Leach says. “…and the idea of seamless is the root of an Omnichannel experience. Customer information must be available across multiple touch points throughout the customer journey to help make interactions with your brand both efficient and effective. Remembering a customer’s most-purchased items makes checkout a breeze…  a push notification lets them open your app when they come near a store… one-click check-out saves customers from having to give the same information over and over again. These small details make a huge difference in a smooth and efficient customer experience—and that translates to a favorable brand perception and a boost in customer loyalty.”

It seems the online and in-store experiences are merging to better serve customers. The question is, will this ongoing evolution and the associated impact on the customer experience also drive customer loyalty?

 

The Experience Economy?

Continuing with our previous post’s topic of the “shopping experience,” a recent SupermarketNews article referenced an emerging trend called the “Experience Economy.”

According to the article, for a growing number of consumers it is simply not enough to provide competitive pricing, selection, and convenience. Instead, the article suggests, individuals are now seeking “memories” when shopping, which can come in the form of in-store education, additional services, entertainment, or other offerings that engage shoppers.

To simplify the planning process, it is recommended that supermarkets focus on four “quadrants” to enhance the shopping experience:

Entertainment. Live engagement with shoppers — such as cooking and pairing demonstrations, as well as wine and beer samplings.

Education. Examples of this could include in-store cooking classes, “stories” behind the sourcing and production of products, and meal ideas.

Esthetic. (spelled with an “e”) In-store amenities such as restaurants, wine bars, and cafés.

Escapism. Tasting new cuisine and flavors can mentally whisk shoppers off to new locales or inspire them to experiment with new ingredients.

Read the full article… 

Shopping Experience & Center Store Growth

An AMG Strategic Advisors report defines “Center Store” as: Packaged Food, Beverages, Health & Beauty Care, General Merchandise, and Home Care.

Industry insiders say that center store sales have declined over the past several years.

However, a recent SupermarketNews article shares some interesting perspectives on this issue; and while the piece acknowledges the fact that growing center store sales is difficult, it also suggests a simple approach to solving the problem.

The article quoted Scott Lewis, VP, operations, at Harmon City Inc. , who said, “The answer [to growing center store sales…] is focusing on the shopper experience.”

“One benefit of being an independent grocer is the ability to react quickly to new consumers and trends. It’s hard to go to Amazon and browse for a new product — but it’s easy to do in a store. We try to create a treasure hunt in our stores where you’re going to find something new in those center store aisles. That’s what people are looking for in their shopping experience.”

The article also suggests pairing like products with their fresh counterparts as another method for enhancing the shopping experience and, in so doing, growing center store sales.

Read the full article…