Category management

Transportation Optimization - a silver bullet to solve "last mile delivery?"

Ted Matwijec, Managing Director, ACT Operations Research – Raleigh, NC.

Learn how knowing your constraints and customer demands feeds sophisticated algorithms to provide optimal routing and balance delivery vs costs   Lately I have been seeing more and more of those brand-new Amazon Prime - Mercedes panel trucks making deliveries around my neighborhood.   Also, I have even seen the USPS delivering packages on Sunday (contracted by Amazon I am sure).  What’s going on Sunday deliveries? On demand delivery with time windows specified by a customer is becoming the consumer norm.  Remember the delivery or service call by your cable TV/Internet provider saying my service guy will be there between 8 am and noon then shows up at 11:50am.  Met their promise, but ruined your whole morning wasted sitting around! Let me assure you that customer service problem can be solved and you don’t need the resources of Amazon, UPS or Fed Ex. Amazon is clearly moving into the supply chain delivery markets much to the chagrin of FED EX and UPS to take back their “last mile” deliveries of their goods and solve this problem for the customer.    The question is how can they make the most expensive part of delivery – the “last or golden mile” to a customer profitable? From our experience in these markets, simply put, Amazon, Fed Ex, UPS and other large transportation companies have the best and brightest staff of Math, Statistical Phds that constantly hone their algorithms to minimize costs and maximize the service requirements.   When profit is measured in pennies in a transportation system – (that’s why you see the UPS guys running from each delivery back to their trucks) – the solution cannot be a spreadsheet or database or even year 2000 optimization technology. It is not rocket science, well maybe sort of, but rather advanced mathematics (think Calculus) applied to route planning optimization and fleet capacity analysis.  These transportation algorithms (remember the traveling salesman problem) have generically been around for decades, however now they are totally customized, enhanced and improved enough to cover the most minutia of system requirements – by many software companies.  I read that UPS has put 10’s of millions of dollars in R&D over the years into their algorithms to update and improve optimize their KPIs – as an example! So, why now is the “last delivery mile” more complex and expensive than ever?   The short answer, the customer is demanding it and will go other places if your company cannot provide it!   We all know how poor delivery can be written up in YELP or GOOGLE about your business – a big problem in the social media world for your marketing department.   (eg. – delivered food late for a kid’s birthday party) The good news for any retail or grocery store fleet manager is that to solve the “last mile delivery” the technology today is much less expensive and available for all size of fleets and route planners The long answer is the complexity of the business rules, constraints and requirements to execute this service.   First some examples…of customer/supplier requirement I am seeing today in our markets of retail and grocery applications - Customers: Wants confirmation of a tighter availability of their grocery delivery – eg. In the next 30 minutes Desire communications via a mobile app, email or text to the customer – about the updated arrival time. Want a positive experience to tell their friends how good their deliveries are! – We all want that on demand! Grocery/Retail Stores with their own fleets, or outsourced via 3PLs - Wants a confirmation signature the groceries have been delivered and that information is sent back to the IT system in real time, with SKU information, for example – for replenishment purposes. Wants real time updates from their drivers about location, traffic and estimated delivery window to communicate back to the customer. Wants to be able to reschedule a driver in real time for a new pickup at the store/warehouse or pick-up a returned item. So, the lengthy transportation distances between warehouses to stores is a natural issue solved by logistics teams for inventory replenishment.  Now add that complex delivery network and inventory now required “on demand” from a store location or back in the warehouse for a customer that wants it delivered this afternoon – and you get to see why the “last mile” delivery starts to become complex and expensive!  From a labor, IT system connection, communication systems, loading, unloading, time window point of view, the human brain cannot possibly manage all the variables in your network – to balance cost vs services. Lot’s of moving business costs involved to serve the customer. So, from my 30  + years in the Operations Research field, I can strongly recommend an updated math model is appropriate for route planning and optimization and is the potential strategic “silver bullet” you are looking for – to support you competing in your markets!  Of-course it is not the whole answer, you have to execute a plan, change some processes and manage the fleet – the cultural processes. Question, when was the last time you asked for your route planning algorithms to be updated in your home grown business system,  TMS or ERP system, meanwhile your points of service network has changed a lot just in the last 5 years! I have seen the market share winners in the tight margin grocery or retail store business realize that the supply chain strategy to optimize delivery to their clients from source through the delivery point is accomplished by using transportation optimization.   Managing constraints like labor, fuel costs, traffic conditions, time window, texts and emails to meet that short time window and the “last mile” requires serious modeling/computational power and IT changes. The good news is that this technology is more readily available, less expensive from providers, easier to use for your staff, and has proven real cost savings – to meet or exceed your customers expectations. How much did your optimization algorithms cut your cost in your delivery system last year? Find the hidden value in your delivery system today, using math optimization, your savings should be a min. 10%+ or more in our experience to deliver on time or earlier and impress your customers! +MORE

Timing is everything and ‘your newest team member’ is right on time!

Lan Nguyen, Marketing Manager, Bossa Nova Robotics

With AI and data from your newest team member, retail work has never been easier. Bossa Nova, a leader in creating autonomous service robots for the global retail industry, tracks inventory plus store and shelf conditions in real-time. Its solution delivers data with speed and accuracy. By reducing inventory time, Bossa Nova is able to provide real-time data for stock levels with improved accuracy. So how does this translate to a financial gain for retailers? First, by automating mundane tasks, employees are happy and happy employees make a happier retail environment. You might wonder how many hours are spent on mundane tasks such as inventory audits.  There are 30,098 items in the average grocery store. A typical Target store has around 80,000 SKUs and a Walmart supercenter sells up to 120,000 items. It takes about 20 human hours to audit 10,000 products. Following this logic, an average grocery store would require over 60 hours per store,  160 hours per store for Target, and a whopping 240 hours auditing shelves at a Walmart Supercenter. It’s easy to see how grocery stores following the recommended minimum quarterly inventory schedule forfeit a high proportion of human working hours to this task. For those that audit monthly, the labor costs are even more tremendous.   Bossa Nova helps retailers automate these inventory audits and monitor shelf-conditions in parallel, scanning an 80 linear foot aisle in 90 seconds with 98% accuracy. Through automation, employee focus can be shifted to more action oriented, customer-centric tasks, while the Bossa Nova robot detects anomalies in shelf conditions, covering everything from addressing out of stock and misplaced items, to pricing, and more. This shift in employee focus to the customer directly translates to higher shopper satisfaction and increased loyalty. It is estimated that out of stocks cost retailers over $129 billion in lost sales in North America - a loss of -4% of revenue annually. (the cumulative worldwide cost of out-of-stocks for retailers has now reached over $984b) A study conducted by MIT Supply Chain Management Research determined that 78% of products that are not on the shelves (i.e out of stocks) are actually on-hand. Given this, a majority of out of stock issues can likely be resolved in-store. Inventory replenishment is critical to success, and those tasks need to occur at store level. Having the right products in the right place when consumers are looking for them (both online and in-store) allows sales to escalate and deliver a sales velocity that makes the most effective use of each square foot of space. Bossa Nova is committed to maximizing this efficiency by gathing  reliable, real-time data that delivers task oriented, actionable items. Efficient inventory control improves speed to shelf by alerting store-level associates of inventory on hand, as well as buying desks / suppliers of true OOS situations. Through computer vision implementation, retailers can accurately assess, and more importantly, address in-store conditions in real-time, across all locations. Real-time accuracy is not only important to retailers, but it is also important to your shoppers. By having accurate inventory, confidence thresholds for item availability can be increased for both in-store and online shopper inventory inquiries. In fact, 81% of shoppers do research online before visiting a physical store for what they want to buy, yet only 27% of retail sites provide store level inventory. When the robot “wheels” into your stores, you will be saving intensive labor hours and improving your store conditions with unmatched accuracy. Bossa Nova has the credibility and experience to help retail operations realize the return on investment and successfully integrate with existing platforms and systems. There are two popular sayings that really affect your bottom line: “Timing is everything”, and “Time is money”, and in business, money really is everything. While many technology companies are still working to surmount the bell learning curve of applied technology, Bossa Nova is equipped with extensive retail experience and has been trusted by operations and IT professions to successfully integrate and lead this huge step in retail automation. With accurate inventory management, you can increase your revenue potential and more accurately can forecast the future. +MORE

AI Powered Promotion Optimization

CART

Artificial intelligence (A.I.) is tailor-made for high SKU count, high transaction frequency supermarket retail. The insight and recommendations that A.I. provides can help retailers drive significant top line sales gains without increased promotional cost. In the high- volume, low-margin supermarket industry, where even slight improvements can deliver considerable increases to bottom line profitability A.I.-powered promotion optimization is nothing short of transformative. +MORE

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DART Displays

DART Displays

DART Displays offers a way to transform the in-store shopping experience to one that is digital and dynamic, with reporting and analytics that lead to big insights about what moves your shopper to purchase.     By leveraging DART Displays structures (both permanent and flexible) you can and will create a best in class approach for enhancing the brand experience in-store.  +MORE

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Artificial Intelligence Product, Price & Assortment Optimization

Daisy Intelligence Corporation

Use the power of A.I. to make the optimal choices clear. Measuring grocery and retail data is a highly complex and tedious task. The changing and dynamic relationships between your products and customers in addition to the effects of pricing and promotions make understanding and leveraging all this data humanly impossible. Daisy does what humans can’t. Using our focused artificial intelligence (A.I.) and proprietary mathematic solutions Daisy turns impossible big data problems into actionable decisions. We analyze very large quantities of our clients’ transaction and operational data in order to provide weekly promotional, price, and forecasting recommendations which our clients can use to grow total sales basket size, improve margins, and delight customers. Daisy provides more than tools and dashboards, instead Daisy provides you with actionable insights that are proven to help you make more profitable decisions and compete in the new world of retail. Daisy turns your underleveraged data into your most profitable asset and source of competitive advantage.  Why Daisy? Outputs are specific, actionable recommendations to core merchandising decisions – not charts or tools A.I. is self-learning and adaptive -perfect for the dynamic world of retail Outputs are optimized to bottom-line/top line performance No hardware/software to install – up and running in 30-60 days Without a doubt, Daisy has driven a meaningful lift in basket size and trips without any additional margin cost – Scott Little, CFO Earth Fare Read the case study with Earth Fare here to find out more! http://www.advancingretail.org/resources/AI-Powered-Promotion-Optimization +MORE

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Robots for Retailers

Bossa Nova Robotics

It is estimated that out-of-stocks account for -4% loss in revenue, not to mention the possible long-term effects of losing loyal shoppers. Great shelving conditions can lead to great shopping experiences. Bossa Nova is the leading developer of robots designed to provide real-time inventory data for the global retail industry. Our retail service robot autonomously tracks inventory and the true state of in-store conditions to seamlessly deliver actionable tasks benefiting retailers through efficiencies and accuracy.   Ensure implementation and maximize operational efficiencies by relying on the retail experience and expertise of Bossa Nova. Our trusted team makes it work for all retailers - helping them turn real-time data into actionable tasks and insights.  Real-Time, Accurate Inventory Data Product Availablity with Efficient/Actionable/Timely Replenishment Real-time Corrective Actions to Remedy Merchandising, Pricing and Promotion Compliance  +MORE

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GoSpotCheck

GoSpotCheck

GoSpotCheck is mobile form and execution management software that enables team leaders to improve workforce operations. Organizations can assign tasks, analyze real-time reporting, and drive action to accomplish critical goals and objectives. +MORE

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BEFORE! Predictive Analytics

ACT Operations Research

1) Predict demand down to store and SKU level 2) Predict promotional campaign affect in the store, transportation and warehouse operations 3) Buy optimal quantities 4) Manage the risk associated with stock outs vs promotional campaigns and waste 5) considers assortment constraints and category efficiency 6) simulate store queuing for capacity analysis purposes and cost reduction purposes.  REVENUE, SALES & PROMOTION Revenue management and price optimization is a core-activity in any market oriented company operating in different industries (Retails, Fast Fashion, Chain Store, Car Rentals, Web Business, etc.). The goal of our suite is to provide, to the revenue managers, advanced analytics, using a unique combination and integration of predictive, optimization and simulation models. While the analytics tools are complex the results are always presented in an intuitive way. The core products included in the Revenue, Sale, Price & Promotion (RSP&P) suite are: Dynamic Price Optimizer (DPO), the multi-paradigm predictive paltform - Before! Predictive Analytics with Before! Sales Campaign -, the customers and market profiling analytics (CMP), the promotion optimization and what-if analysis platform - Before! Promo.  Before! Sales Campaign Before! Sales Campaign software addresses the needs of industries where the products and the merchandise assortments, have a fast renewal  dynamics, even during the same season, like the case of fashion and  fast-fashion channels, electronics or several web-business  Before! Promo Before!Promo, is a complete multi-paradigm analytical tool by ACTOR, developed for scaling enterprise companies. In the current competitive scenario the consumers pay high attention to the promotions, on the other hand promotions exposed retailers and vendors to higher risks in terms of image, in case of stock-out or costs in case of over-stock. When products are fresh-food or fast fashion for example, the risks become even higher.  Before! Predictive Analytics  Before! Predictive Analytics or simply Before!, is a complete multi-paradigm demand forecasting platform by ACTOR, developed for scaling enterprise companies. Before! provides you the capability to forecast the demand while gaining control of the related organization processes such as; planning, procurement, inventory optimization, store replenishments, etc..  Dynamic Price Optimization  Dynamic Price Optimization (DPO) is a capacity and revenue management software based on sophisticated analytical algorithms. It permits users to optimize the prices of products, assets and commodities over the time based on the expected demand, the competitor’s prices and other key-information like, for example, price elasticity.   +MORE

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The Age Of Assistance: Learning How To Survive & Thrive

Caroline Brady - Product Integration & Marketing Specialist, Pointy

The death of brick & mortar, the retail apocalypse and the closure of big box retailers have all been frequently featured news topics in the past few months. With more and more customers choosing e-commerce many brick & mortar stores are struggling to stay afloat. So what are the main influences that have caused this change in buyer behaviour? Thanks to smartphones, the process of buying online has become even easier & more efficient. Now customers can simply search for the product they want on Google and buy it from an online retailer at the click of a button. The path to purchase online is clear for the customer – the product is easy to find, its stock status is known and the delivery date is certain. By comparison, buying a product from a brick and mortar store is often a much more complicated and uncertain process. Customers often don’t know where to find the product, if it’s in stock or if the store is even open – this leaves a lot of unanswered questions for the customer. The differences between these two experiences may partly explain why more and more people are choosing online instead of in-store.  So what can retailers do to stem this flow from in-store to online and attract customers back to the main street? A good place to start is by looking at the most recent trends in consumer search behaviour and seeing how retailers can capitalize on these.  Product Searches vs Store Searches The introduction of the smartphone has changed the way we search. With ready access to a computer in our pockets people are spending huge amounts of time online but their sessions are very short. Customer’s attention spans have decreased significantly and they expect instant answers to all of their search queries. The graph below compares searches for different toy products over searches for toy stores in the last 90 days. It highlights the increase in specific product search queries and shows that customers now have clear intent when it comes to searching online. Currently, most retailers rank number one when you search for their store’s name on a search engine like Google. However, even if someone is 50 feet away from their store searching for their best-selling product, the customer is most likely going to see an Amazon result rather than their local store. In order to capitalize on this recent change in search behavior you need to display your products online. The problem is that getting all your products online requires a huge amount of work and resources. Pointy makes displaying products online a whole lot easier. We create a webpage displaying all of your store’s products together with listing key contact information for your store. These pages are optimised rank well in this changed search environment. Path To Purchase With Products Displayed Online Displaying your products online together with having key contact details present on each and every web-page for your store removes many of the barriers and uncertainties customers are currently faced with when looking to buy products in-store. By removing these barriers the path to purchase from search to sale in-store begins to look very similar to that of buying online, thereby attracting more customers back to brick and mortar stores. A recent study conducted by Google found that 50% of customers who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a local business within a day and 18% of these lead to a purchase within a day. Customers who are doing local searches for products are usually in a hurry. They want the product now and they are not willing to wait for shipping. By providing customers with instant gratification brick & mortars can actually beat Amazon. Many of our Pointy retailers say that the in-store experience they provide is one of the biggest strengths. Displaying your products online means more customers finding your store and visiting it. In-store purchases will improve the likelihood of repeat visits and gives the retailer a great opportunity to up-sell. What’s more, it allows you to develop a relationship with your customers that online retailers simply cannot mirror. (Retailer Testimonials: here) +MORE

The Growing Role of Data Intelligence in eGrocery

Michael Demko, CEO and Founder, Locai Solutions

2018 was marked by many advancements in the various applications of data intelligence – the ability for computers and apps to gather information, and use it to give customers a truly personalized experience – setting the stage for the next-level in convenience. Shoppers are now less resistant to the idea of individualized product suggestions, which creates a new dynamic of customer service: people expect products to be presented to them in an easy, personalized, and intelligent way.  A great user experience is an imperative part of any eCommerce offering, but the underlying logic, algorithms, and intelligence that bring depth and relevance to the user experience is where the real innovations are occurring. In 2019, personalization and AI will grow from being merely promotions and product recommendations to a set of  tools that help retailers sell time-saving solutions. By 2020 45% of retailers plan to utilize artificial intelligence to enhance the customer experience. Currently, many platforms generate lists that you can buy from, but with machine learning you can now deploy solutions that provide higher levels of convenience for your customers.  What exactly does the customer experience? A more frictionless buying experience. Upon initial sign in to an app powered by an engine like eGroceryIQ, customers answer questions about their dietary preferences, portion sizes, and favorite items. After each purchase, the order details are collected and used to modify that user's next shopping experience. If the customer reviews an item, that information is also integrated into future product and recipe recommendations. eCommerce platforms embedded with AI powered solutions will take all this customer data, integrate it with what is currently in their shopping cart, and provide them with a highly personalized and engaging shopping experience. These smart apps, using segment-of-one personalization, create a unique interface for each customer. Instead of having to sift through an entire catalog, shoppers are presented with their favorite items right away, as well as similar product suggestions – foods they might like based on past purchases.  Other applications for data intelligence include capabilities that provide shoppers with information to problem solve for quantity and product type. Customers can filter and scroll through listings to compare nutritional information and see what items fit with their dietary preferences or restrictions. AI solutions  can sift through recipes, parse ingredients, map them automatically to a retailer’s assortment and systematically scale the amounts needed for a family of 4 or a single serving enabling customers to use tools such as meal planning to maximize use of products already in their virtual shopping cart. As machine learning continues to evolve, the possibilities become endless.. Is it worth the investment? All that value for your customers translates to higher sales. Intelligent solutions mean higher basket sizes, improved loyalty & retention, increased conversion rate, and higher purchase frequency.  Furthermore, data intelligence can be used to advance your merchandising, logistics, and fulfillment efforts. According to Tech Emergence, "the predictive capabilities of AI may play an important role in forecasting inventory needs, determining prices of products based on internal and external factors, analyzing customer behavior, loss prevention, delivery services–and potentially much more."  Equipped with volumes of data about your customers, new platforms will emerge to enable you to more easily pivot your business strategies, optimize your interfaces, and offer a catalog of high selling products.  The bottom line? More convenience equals greater customer satisfaction and more revenue. Intelligent solutions for today and tomorrow According to Forbes magazine, almost half of Americans now buy groceries online. Recent surveys by Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Nielsen show that 49% of US consumers had bought CPGs (consumer packaged goods) online in the past three months, up from 23% in 2016. The rates were higher among younger demographics – 61% for millennials and 55% for Gen Xers. As these rates continue to increase, experts predict that AI will continue to expand to meet the growing needs of both grocers and shoppers. Without AI, traditional grocery stores will have a difficult time meeting consumer behavior and demands. Many are finding that simply adding an online catalog is not enough to satisfy their customers, nor drive higher sales. The key is increasing value through efficiency and continuous learning about your customer. Solutions embedded with machine learning are designed to meet the needs of both the retailer and the consumer – giving the consumer an engaging, personalized experience, and the retailer a comprehensive, sales-driving and scalable platform. In order to succeed digitally, a broad set of components are needed and we’re beginning to see more and more partnering between grocers and technology solutions. As Yeal Cosset, Chief Digital Officer of Kroger said, “Personalization based on available data will not work. If the filter of the data is only good you will become obsolete, but if it is great you will have success.” Investing in flexible platforms that enable integration with the best in class consumer and operational features will become necessary, as a wide host of 3rd party application providers continue to emerge as the industry evolves. +MORE

Five Predictions for Retail Transformation in 2019

Gary Hawkins, CEO , Center for Advancing Retail & Technology (CART)

As we begin 2019, tomorrow is no longer going to resemble today. The pace of tech-fueled innovation continues to grow, bringing with it increasing change across the supply chain and greater impact on traditional retail operations and models. 2019 is going to be a year of even greater change. Here are five key areas to watch this year: Frictionless shopping: The Amazon Go store with its cashier-less shopping experience has gotten the industry’s attention and this year we will see a great deal of activity in this space. There are several tech companies working to bring similar capabilities to the retail industry along with cost-effectively scaling the technology to work in traditional supermarkets. I believe the proliferation of retailers’ mobile apps having some kind of self-shopping capability - the shopper scanning their products as they shop using their smartphone and then an expedited payment process - is an interim step to a completely frictionless shopping environment. The whole idea of the Amazon Go store is to make buying products as easy as possible; the shopper having to use their app to scan and pay makes it easier to buy but not as easy as just walking in, picking up what you want, and walking out. Automated fulfillment: Kroger’s partnership with Ocado to build and operate twenty automated grocery eComm fulfillment centers is on track. We are seeing several other retailers enter into agreements with Takeoff Technologies to build mini automated fulfillment centers that can sit in the backroom, automatically fulfilling high-velocity packaged goods ordered online. Walmart is working with a partner to build an automated fulfillment center that is designed to sit alongside their stores, fulfilling high-volume products. In 2019 we are going to see even more activity in this space as other retailers will be forced to follow these leaders as automation brings efficiency and lower fulfillment costs, opening up a productivity gap. We will be seeing other technology providers step into this space as the market expands. Automated delivery: Kroger’s partnership with Nuro to use automated, driverless delivery vehicles to deliver online orders to the shopper’s home is already in pilot. Udelv and other solutions will be gaining more interest as retailers begin to focus more attention on the final mile delivery. While many retailers have signed deals with Instacart or Shipt to handle actual delivery, we’re going to see growing interest in Uber and other services to handle deliveries and fast growing interest in automated solutions like Nuro and Udelv in search of cost efficiencies. Health & Wellness gets personal: The wearables market is growing fast as Apple’s Watch and similar devices provide even more functionality to monitor key health indicators in realtime. The explosion in health data coming from these wearables will become increasingly tied to food guidance, helping the individual understand what specific food products to purchase and consume based upon the individual’s health condition and realtime data. As an example, Dexcom recently released a device that provides realtime glucose monitoring for people with diabetes. The ability to use knowledge of an individual’s glucose levels at that specific time - for example, while they are standing in front of the shelf - will inform guidance to beneficial foods. This movement is already underway as the massive food and healthcare industries converge, driven by Amazon’s ownership of Whole Foods, PillPack, and other activity in healthcare. Kroger’s Opt-UP app enables the shopper to easily understand the quality of the foods they are buying and easily filter the store’s product selection based upon the shopper’s interests, needs, and preferences. Look for a lot more activity around this space in the coming year. Melding of digital and physical retail: While most industry activity has been focused around eCommerce and automation of fulfillment and delivery of orders, I believe we are going to see growing attention to the melding of digital and physical shopping. This encompasses bringing augmented reality into the store and shopping experience; we’ll also see growing activity in virtual reality shopping as VR tech gets better and cheaper. Digital signage will spread across the store and get smarter, not only using demographic info to present messaging relevant to the person standing in front of the screen, but engagement will be far more personalized. Kroger’s new shelf Edge system is moving in this direction, lighting up as a shopper moves down the aisle to call out relevant products. Obviously there are many more areas where technology is going to transform retail but these are five key areas to watch. Each of these fundamentally changes the game: Frictionless shopping and automating fulfillment and delivery remove significant costs and will put growing pressure on competing retailers as companies using these technologies scale deployments.  Personalization will move quickly, not just in marketing but in linking an Individual shopper’s health to her favorite store’s product assortment, guiding the shopper to products to improve her wellbeing.  Lastly, shopping is about to become far more interesting and truly immersive as technology really begins to impact the shopping experience, whether you are in the brick & mortar store or sitting at home. +MORE

Pointy

Pointy

Get your products online instantly. More customers through your door. Your products appear online Carry on as normal. Your products will appear on your Pointy Page automatically. No data entry needed. Simple to Set Up Pointy works with your existing barcode scanner. Just plug it in and you're ready to go. No Maintenance We maintain your Pointy page. There’s no on-going work to do! Visible Everywhere From laptops to iPads and smartphones, Pointy will help people find your products.  Integrate with Google "See What's In Store" Google's "See What's In Store" gives shoppers an additional way to discover what your store sells, directly on the Google search page. It's an effective way to attract more customers.  Expand your online presence even further Pointy ProductAds is an optional feature that runs high-performing ads on Google for all your products automatically. You have total control over the daily budget and geographic targeting range. No Commitment If you are not happy, you can leave at any time. +MORE

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Pseudo Customer Centricity: Fool’s Gold

Gary Hawkins on Winsight Grocery Business, CART

Retailers must employ a customer-first philosophy into organizational culture Many regional retailers are (at last!) intent on becoming customer-centric, more than a decade after The Kroger Co. led the way and more than two decades after early loyalty pioneers proved the value of a true customer focus. But too many retailers believe that customer centricity can simply be bolted on to their organizations without realizing that true customer centricity is far more involved. Like the intrepid gold miners of the 1840s, these retailers awaken to the realization that what they’ve taken for retail gold is in actuality a false promise, seduced by the fools gold of pseudo customer centricity. I can recount meetings with senior executives from well-known retailers who espouse their customer centricity efforts; spending massive sums on consultants and solutions powered by a decade’s old approach based on customer segments integrated to the retailer’s category planning processes, and even personalized offers to shoppers. Countless of these retailers remain anchored in a product-focused world, even those who tout using technology to discover what products should be put on offer to their customers rather than starting with a vendor-funded offer pool.  True disciples of customer centricity deeply embed a customer-first philosophy into their organizational culture, extending it to every part of the enterprise. These companies realize that providing savings on products relevant to the shopper is only the beginning. Leading companies such as Amazon and Kroger are investing heavily in taking customer centricity to the next level: comprehensive, seamless user experiences across channels and devices, integrating personalized product recommendations with an understanding of the individual shopper’s specific health conditions, and laying the technology foundation for immersive shopping experiences melding the physical and digital worlds. Customer first disciples understand the dynamic flow of customers and their shopping behavior over time, putting in place capabilities and processes attuned to providing contextual relevancy inside and outside the store. And personalization—driven by past purchases and recommendation algorithms—is fast evolving to what I think of as strategic hyper-personalization, leveraging vast intelligence about each individual shopper to power a mix of recommendations to win the shopping trip, grow baskets, maximize retention, and foster customer advocacy—one customer at a time, in real time. Many regional retailers are based in more rural areas where company executives believe their shoppers are less tech savvy, relieving pressure on digital imperatives. According to Pew Research, 95% of Americans own a cellphone in 2018, with 77% of Americans owning a smartphone. Pew also calls out that in 2018, 89% of Americans use the internet. Location is no longer a proxy for customer technology illiteracy.  This year, Amazon is projected to realize over $258 billion in U.S. retail sales, an estimated 49% of all online retail spending in the United States. With this kind of penetration, and the ability to ship products anywhere overnight, traditional supermarket retailers would do well to remember that their shoppers are increasingly expecting (demanding!) the seamless and comprehensive user experience provided by Amazon, and increasingly by Kroger and Walmart. Yet, too many retailers remain mired in digital purgatory, constrained by capability silos and the inability to bring piecemeal capabilities together in a seamless fashion for shoppers.  Lastly, many seasoned grocery executives have spent their careers being rewarded for following, letting someone else bring innovation to market and only following when it has been proven successful. Years ago IT executives would buy IBM, even if it wasn’t the best choice, but because it was the "safe" choice. This practice continues today as retailers sign deals with "established" providers because they believe it is the safe choice, failing to understand that today’s environment rewards fresh, forward-looking thinking. Retail executives need to look beyond yesterday’s approach to customer centricity to capabilities and platforms that actually position the retailer for future success. The cost of failing to provide a seamless shopping experience, for failing to provide true individual shopper personalization, and failing to provide real time contextual relevancy, can rapidly obliterate any savings or security from yesterday’s "proven" approach. Tom Furphy, a former Amazon executive and the originator of Amazon Fresh, in a recent interviewspeaking to the challenges retailers face today, especially a reliance on past practices, says it all: “What seems safe is actually destructive. That’s a recipe for longer term disaster.” This article originally appeared on Winsight Grocery Business and can be viewed here +MORE

The Top Five Ways Retailers Benefit from Industry Trade Shows

Courtney Muller, Chief Corporate Development & Strategy Officer, Clarion UX

When was the last time you attended a retail or food and beverage trade show? If you have to pause to think of the answer – or know immediately that the answer is, “Never” – then it might be time to find a show or expo near you. Trade shows are the best places for those within the industry to get out of their stores and network; find new products and stay abreast of the cutting edge technology offerings; and gain invaluable education in the areas you need it most. In short, even if you spend time every day trying to stay current, you could never see it all – or know what to search for. There is no better place than a trade show … from seeing new products, meeting new people, becoming educated on a new way to engage your customers, or finding out about technology … this is the place to find what you don’t know!   Here are some of the top reasons you should attend a trade show this year: Network with Decision Makers When you think of networking, perhaps the typical “mixer” scenario comes to mind with people you don’t know awkwardly milling about a bar or restaurant, trying to strike up conversations with random people in the hopes that you might be able to benefit one another in some way. Networking at a trade show couldn’t be any more different. As an attendee, you can specifically find exhibitors with the products you seek; attend educational sessions that pertain to topics you are interested in, therefore attracting other audience members who share the same challenges; and be assured that your peers in the same industry as you are seeking similar solutions as you.  And you might even run into a colleague you haven’t seen in years! Find New Products and Foods You subscribe to industry periodicals and get Google Alerts in your inbox every day, but have you seen that new robot that identifies out of stock items and potential slip and fall hazards? Have you read about leveraging data to establish loyalty and trust with food delivery customers? A trade show is the perfect venue to scope out all that is new in the retail world from tech products to new foods and services – all in one place – to help you use technology to create a seamless customer experience. As you look for new technology innovation to keep you competitive, you may find the perfect partner for online ordering, rapid delivery, or rapid checkout through customer’s smartphones.  No matter what you want to go to a trade show to find, you will likely be pleasantly surprised by discovering even more than you thought along the aisles. See New Trends in Action Are vegan offerings a must-have? Should you offer chef demonstrations to showcase meal ideas? Are international flavors high on consumer’s minds? What chef dishes are they trying replicate at home? Be on the front line of this year’s and next year’s trends so you can bank on what your customers will be looking for in the near future. You’ll walk away with new products and great ideas you can implement immediately in your store operations. You may even realize that you are on the verge of creating an entirely different trend yourself that has yet to appear on the market – good information that you can capitalize on in the year to come. Receive Best in Class Education If school is a distant memory – or perhaps you learned hands-on in a family business and worked your way up the ranks – one of the best perks of most trade shows is the educational content provided to attendees and exhibitors alike. Whether you’re interested in operational excellence, developing your workforce, building bigger baskets, or sessions dedicated to those hot new tech trends we previously mentioned, trade shows like The NGA Show (presented by the National Grocers Association) in San Diego this coming February will have you covered on all fronts. What’s more, you can connect with presenting industry specialists to gain even more valuable insight into the topics that interest you most. Gain Immediate, Actionable Ideas The bottom line … your time is valuable and you want to spend any time out of your store obtaining the cream of the crop ideas - from new products, growth strategies and tech trends. Hear what the experts have to share, sample emerging products, uncover new technology, and refresh your enthusiasm for the business. You’ll walk away with a plan to bring all of these new ideas and initiatives into your store operation to drive profits, growth and innovation.   No matter where you are in your retail career, a trade show will no doubt provide you with opportunities, education and inspiration as you progress in the business. Interested in learning more? Check out the upcoming NGA show: National Grocers Association Show, San Diego, CA, February 24-27, 2019, www.thengashow.com  Each year, The NGA Show brings together independent retailers and wholesalers, food retail industry executives, food/CPG manufacturers and service providers for unparalleled opportunities to learn, engage, share, network, and innovate.  Given today’s ever-changing marketplace and evolving advancements in innovation occurring in the food retail industry, The NGA Show is a must-attend event, providing over 40 educational workshops, an expo floor featuring innovative and game-changing products and solutions and countless networking opportunities.  Registration is open at www.thengashow.com – early bird registration rates in effect through December 10, 2018.  +MORE

NGA Show 2019: The Epicenter of Grocery Industry Innovation

CART, Advancing Retail

In a special event leading up to the opening of the new NGA Show 2019, CART will bring together unique education, an impressive line up of speakers, and cutting edge innovation to make San Diego the epicenter of grocery industry innovation during Feb. 24-27, 2019. With a focus on regional retailers and dynamic independent operators, the CART team will present an innovation tour de force designed to help attendees not only stay in the game but help them win. CART is coming together with leading retailers through-out the industry to provide attendees a new worldview for the future of retail where transformation and disruption are the new normal: iRetail. Focused on five ‘i’s, iRetail will give attending executives a framework for evaluating their existing capabilities and provide a roadmap to closing the innovation gap. In a time of declining and disappearing industry events, the NGA Show has become a beacon of light for the industry as it has grown each year, even outgrowing its longtime home in Las Vegas, spurring the move to San Diego this coming February. CART has had a long time partnership with NGA and is taking the relationship to a new level this year, building on the success of CART’s Innovation Event at last year’s show.  Make sure to put Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, on your calendar and plan to attend the CART special event at the new NGA Show! +MORE

Technology's Profound Impact on the Supermarket Industry

Peter Larkin, President & CEO, National Grocers Association

Often cited as the one of the greatest catalyst of change within the retail grocery industry, technology is an area that independent supermarket operators must understand, and embrace.  Technology continues to have a profound impact, where virtually every detail of the supermarket industry is being touched by new solutions and platforms. I see three technology threads, each entwined with the other. One is the explosion of mobile applications and programs that are turning grocery shoppers into high information consumers. According to Pew research, smart phone adoption among Americans has more than doubled since 2011. Not only are shoppers becoming more sophisticated, but they are using technology as a way to gain more information, transparency, and convenience. At the touch of a mobile screen, consumers can instantly access to updated information on locally sourced perishables, competitive promotions, price checks and recipe ingredient lists. In turn, this migration to the digital space is shaping customer relationships with retailers. Today’s shopper does not want to be talked to but instead wants to be a part of the conversation. Consumer product manufacturers and marketers make up a second technology thread. By analyzing large chunks of customer data and retail sales, manufacturers, retailers and service suppliers are exploring innovative ways to touch their target audiences. Big data though can be vast and hard to harness. Whether it’s social media, a mobile payment system, or loyalty programs, technology can effectively create many new opportunities for savvy retailers to learn about and to connect with their shoppers to better serve their needs. A good place to see and learn about a number of these innovative solutions is right here at www.advancingretail.org. The third thread is in the store itself, where technology is increasingly employed to improve overall store productivity to program more effective lighting, to boost checkout efficiency, to track shopper traffic flows to improve layout and sales per square foot, or to offer customers immediate cost savings via real time wifi connections as they shop. A great, and very recent, example of this is Sedano's Supermarkets launch of a “robotic supermarket,” which entails an automated fulfillment center where AI-enabled robots will assemble full supermarket orders of up to 60 items. While the landscape is quickly evolving, many independent grocers are taking advantage of cutting-edge technologies to engage with their shoppers, find efficiencies, and reach new and existing customers where, how, and when they want. Independents have been making their move into digital. They are hiring dedicated staff, dedicating marketing budgets to digital initiatives, more effectively leveraging social media platforms, and integrating the latest technologies into their business strategies.  With the dramatic pace in which new apps and tech solutions are coming on to the market, it can all seem a bit overwhelming, but technology will play a defining role in the supermarket industry.  Those retailers that are on the forefront of implementing new technology and embrace the hyper-connected, tech-savvy consumer are positioning themselves for success. I’m one who is convinced that these threads will weave into a pattern of rising sales and profits. And that’s why the 2019 NGA Show will kick-off with a new educational event, spearheaded by our partners at CART, entitled “iRetail: Technology Innovation Reshaping the Grocery Industry.” The event is designed to give supermarket operators a framework for navigating fast-paced innovation while maintaining a focus on the importance of people and physical stores as we move into the future. Despite increased competition from all angles, it is an exciting time for the supermarket industry – and we at NGA are bullish about what the future holds for the independent grocers! Known as the true entrepreneurs of the industry, independents are nimble enough to quickly overcome obstacles, and are finding innovative ways to respond to changing consumer preferences, which is something they’ve always been good at given their close ties to their communities and the consumers they serve. +MORE

Locai Solutions

Locai Solutions Inc

locai is the first company to offer a full suite of software that integrates an e-commerce platform with a fulfillment management system. locai provides a flexible set of solutions including a turn-key eCommerce website, as well as access to great UX features - such as product recommendations, meal planning, and endless aisles - via APIs for easy integration into your existing eCommerce platform. These features have been proven to drive higher basket sizes, and create greater customer engagement, satisfaction, and retention. The locai platform is also the first eCommerce solution for grocers to be built on a cloud based architecture that enables order execution via the full spectrum of fulfillment formats. The locai Fulfillment Management System is versatile and capable of supporting numerous operating footprints, from warerooms to dark stores and/or dedicated distribution centers, and while fully integrated with locai's eCommerce Platform, the FMS can easily integrate with other eCommerce platforms and order management systems to create a unique solution for your brand. Embedded with real-time operating metrics, intelligent pick cart building logic and order verification, the locai Fulfillment Management System is proven to reduce operating cost per order while improving order accuracy. +MORE

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Popspots

Popspots

Popspots is modernizing the retail checkout with AI-powered technology that helps brands and retailers drive awareness, engagement, and conversion -- directly at the point of purchase. Popspots’ smart checkout displays combine video advertising with a product management platform to better capture the mind and wallet share of U.S. consumers who spend 98% of their grocery dollars in physical stores. With actionable reports and access to both current and historical performance, brands and retailers can make data-driven decisions that deliver immediate, impactful value. +MORE

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Would You Like to Delight and Inform Your Online Shoppers

John Hoyne, SYNQY Corporation

Last week, SYNQY was named as a finalist in CART’s Virtual Pitch Event. We’re among an impressive few chosen from hundreds of applications. So, who are we and what does SYNQY do for retailers? SYNQY provides a managed service for retailers to bring online shoppers rich content from manufacturers. We do that at the point of sale, which is the critical piece. To do this, we match manufacturer-branded content to the products on the retailer’s site and then pay the retailer a revenue share. If we think about what shoppers want, they’re looking for basic product information, but also rich product content. That can take the form of videos, product comparisons, as well as promotional content like new products, innovations, and in grocery, recipes and the upcoming SmartLabel content. Delivering all of this at the exact time that consumers are making buying decisions is key. It’s also very important to provide that content to the consumers on the retailer’s website because more and more consumers are going to leave and find it somewhere else – and maybe never come back. But there are numerous challenges in providing content on the retailer site, one of which is that the content typically resides with the brand and not with the retailer. In addition, the content is always changing. As a result, it’s almost impossible to keep it up-to-date.  So, what if you could crowdsource from manufacturers the content customers are looking for? And what if it wouldn’t cost you anything? And what if it would enhance the buying experience and increase product consideration and sales? And you got paid for it? Well, SYNQY can deliver on those promises. SYNQY delivers enhanced content to delight and inform the shopper. SYNQY has a proven track record in the retail space.  Tony Mercado, Marketing Development Manager, Car Electronics Sector at Kenwood said, “ The appeal of SYNQY is it allows us to give shoppers on our retailers’ websites a branded, rich media content experience that we can easily update to stay fresh and reflect our latest products and promotions.  It also keeps the shoppers on our retailer’s website, encouraging them to execute their buying decision with that retailer.” The key is that retailers deliver rich brand content at the point of sale and shoppers never leave the site.  The way this works is that the manufacturers upload their content into the SYNQY system and the retailer simply installs one line of code on their website. It takes about 10 minutes and it’s up and running. Last year, we ran a test of about 14 tier-1 CPG products and for those users who clicked on the SYNQY, we experienced a 65% increase in consideration and a 40% increase in purchases. Those are significant increases and SYNQY is definitely having a positive impact on sales.  We are working with clients in the grocery space, such as Albertsons, Safeway, Nestle, Dr. Pepper/Snapple, Unilever, WhiteWave, VONS, Randalls, PepsiCo, and Pavilions – some of the leading CPG manufacturers and retailers. With our business model, we collect fees from the brands to post their content onto a retailer’s site and then we pay the retailer a revenue share from that fee. Seems like a no-brainer for retailers. SYQNY brings the retailer an enhanced shopping experience for consumers. We increase product consideration and sales and bring a new high-margin site-monetization capability. And we do all of this at low risk, with minimal effort, and at no cost to retailers. +MORE

You Snooze, You Lose. The Time for Grocery Innovation is Now

John Hoyne, Synqy Corporation

Some grocers today are still reluctant to really commit to the online grocery experience. But if you read the headlines, you know that Amazon and Walmart are poised to gain unprecedented online grocery market share. “2017 may be the year for supermarket digital experience,” “Wal-Mart Takes Another Step Forward With Chinese E-Commerce Giant JD.com,” and “AmazonFresh drops to $14.99 per month for Prime members” are what we’re reading these days and it’s clear that online grocery is a hot and evolving market. Online grocery shopping needs to be more than just a shopping cart. That’s a start, but not a way to win. Grocers should consider the omni-channel way people want to shop and build a flexible approach to meet those needs. For example, how do grocers use content to help information-hungry millennials reading nutrition labels to look for GMO- or allergen-free products in-store or online? What about impulse buys? How are those opportunities fostered in ecommerce? Bringing relevant and persuasive content to online grocery shoppers is not just important, but imperative over time. So the options of “wait and see” or having a simple online shopping cart really aren’t options at all. Bringing branded content from manufacturers to online grocery shoppers, along with more nutritional data, and perhaps recipes or suggested products, are all ways to engage shoppers, provide better and cross-merchandising, and grow each shopping cart. This requires that grocers embrace ecommerce and make it a better consumer experience, as opposed to just an online experience. Consumers are savvier today and demand more of online retail; they are now doing the same in grocery. And with more options like AmazonFresh, Walmart and others now participating in the online grocery market, shoppers aren’t limited to local stores. If grocery chains snooze, they’ll lose for sure. +MORE

Pace of Innovation -- Shattering the Status Quo

Gary Hawkins, CART

Retailers are shellshocked by the increasing pace of technology fueled innovation that is transforming and disrupting the industry. It seems not a week goes by that we don’t read about yet another new competitor entering the grocery space or some new innovation being rolled out by an existing competitor. Case in point: Kroger’s recent announcement that it is deploying its Shop, Scan, and Bag self-shopping solution at 400+ stores. This in response to Amazon’s cashier-less Go store pilot and Walmart’s similar self-shopping solution. Supermarket retailers are challenged on several fronts relative to innovation. It is nearly impossible for a retailer to be aware of all the new innovation entering the market. As an example, CART reviews an estimated 100 new solutions each month. Beyond awareness though is the challenge of deciding what areas to focus on (supply chain, distribution, marketing, store operations, etc.) and deciding what specific solution to pilot. And then having to decide what new capabilities to deploy across operating stores. Having efficient operations, quality foods, and great pricing and service is simply the cost of entry to supermarket retail. The new battleground is innovation. This is a new world for retailers to navigate. As an example, we see too many retailers implementing different digital capabilities in a piecemeal fashion rather than working towards a cohesive and comprehensive platform. The self-shopping capability mentioned earlier is a great example. Some retailers are trying to implement this kind of capability through a third-party app or a separate app rather than bundling it into one mobile app for their customers. Shoppers are after an omni-channel, seamless experience, not being forced to interact with different apps or systems to do business with a retailer. CART is here to help. We’re able to leverage our strong retail experience, industry knowledge, and unique insight to new capabilities and innovation flowing into the market to help retailers understand where they are today relative to their competitors and best-in-class retailers. Developing an innovation roadmap is important to help in prioritizing what new innovation to focus on and to create a foundation capable of adapting to new capabilities and technologies as they come into the market. +MORE

Improving Retail Profitability with A.I. Tech: Spotlight on Daisy Intelligence Corporation

Bill Bishop, Brick meets Click

You may not know Gary Saarenvirta, but if you are in retail today you should take the opportunity to benefit from his knowledge and passion. Gary is on a mission to bring the powerful information technology capabilities he learned in the aerospace industry and at IBM to retailing. The result is Daisy Intelligence Corp., a software-as-service provider that’s making it possible for grocery retailers (and other businesses) of all sizes to use artificial intelligence tools for optimized decision-making in order to increase profits. As retailers and merchandisers, your business is selling, and the competition is fiercer than ever.  In the future, growth will mostly likely stem from the ability to use your data in new ways, and the power of A.I. services like those offered by Daisy can improve your business results, despite what will prove to be a yet another challenging year ahead. This post is part of our Spotlight series and is sponsored by Daisy Intelligence Corp.  BMC: Most retailers are familiar with predictive analytics, how is artificial intelligence different?  Gary Saarenvirta: When we discuss traditional predictive analytics – like regression and other forecasting tools – we are talking about solutions that look to the past for answers. This tends to evaluate only subsets of data to draw inferences about historical activity. The problem with this is approach is that it ignores the related actions and ripple effects.  The “predictions” it produces are defined entirely on events that have occurred in the past.  Any “learning” that occurs happens only when new experiments are conducted, i.e., you can learn only as fast as time. Artificial Intelligence, on the other hand, creates a model of the retail environment that connects a retailer’s actions (promotions, prices, inventory, purchasing, real estate) to market results, taking into account the “ripple effects” caused by the actions. This allows A.I. to evaluate future outcomes, even if there is no historical precedent – in effect, A.I. can simulate the future. First, it uses 100 percent of the retailer’s historical data to learn what it can – it then takes the analysis to the next level by simulating a mix of previously known and new, untried actions to find the many different ways the future may unfold, choosing the optimal sequence of actions that achieve the best long-term outcome. As a consequence of this ability to simulate, an A.I. system can learn years of retail in one day, limited only by computing power. A.I. directly answers the question, “What actions should I take to maximize long term revenue/profit?”  The A.I. approach is comprehensive and a balance of historical and future-focused. While A.I. isn’t new, the good news is that in recent years, these A.I. capabilities are now accessible to businesses of all sizes – not just big corporations and government entities – because the power of computing has increased dramatically at the same time the cost has come down. BMC: So how does Daisy use A.I. produce/generate results for retailers? GS: Promotion optimization is one of many areas where A.I. offers significant and immediate improvements to profitability. Daisy uses A.I. to help retailers: Select the right products for promotion Set the right price for promoted products Forecast demand (sales) Promotions are complicated. For example, when you put Coke on promotion, you can expect to sell more Coke, but then there are ripple effects. For example, while selling more Coke increases the sales of related products like salty snacks, it’s also likely to cannibalize Pepsi sales for that week, and probably next week’s Coke sales due to forward buying.  So, where do you stand in the end?  Is the increase in related (non-promoted) products large enough to cover the cost of the promotion?  How big is the drag from cannibalization and forward buying?  What’s the impact on other categories? Daisy can use A.I. to simulate all of the ripple effects, so you can look at the whole picture and you’re able to gauge the long-term benefits and consequences, not just the immediate effect. In contrast, traditional analytics tend to be more narrowly focused and concentrated on the short term – it gives you the answer that sells the most of the promoted product for the next week. We’ve used these capabilities to create a metric we call Net Promotional Effect or “NPE.” The NPE captures and accounts for all of those plusses and minuses, and then allows us to rank every SKU in the store based on its contribution to NPE.  BMC: What makes this NPE metric distinctive from other metrics retailer currently use? GS:The NPE enables retailers to analyze results beyond the direct effect on weekly sales numbers and determine how all of the effects of the promotions are contributing (or not) to achieving the overall goals of the business. In effect, measuring NPE lets you look more broadly to see whether a promotion is taking you to a loss leader or an increase in basket size, profitability, sales, or margin. This is all about improvement and efficiencies – A.I. makes it possible for a retailer to increase NPE with no additional investment in price or margins, and in some cases it actually allows you to increase NPE with less margin investment. It also makes the grinding, week-after-week process of promotion planning far more efficient, so more energy can be put into marketing and merchandising instead of trying to find the right data and pull useful information out of it.  BMC: What differentiates Daisy in the minds of the retailers you work with? GS: Unlike a lot of analytics solutions, there’s no hardware to purchase, no software licensing agreement (and updates) to pay for, no complicated system integration, and no personnel training required. We take the retailer’s sales history and we do the work. We take the responsibility, instead of putting it back on the retailer. The most important deliverable Daisy produces is a set of detailed recommendations that will grow the business’s profits and sales. In terms of what makes us different, the retailers we work with especially appreciate two things:  First, our business model. We’re a software service business – this means we do the heavy lifting, and if we don’t deliver, then you don’t keep paying us. Second, the cost is reasonable – a fair charge based on the value we create. BMC: What is your background? What motivated you to start Daisy Intelligence? GS: Early in my career, I learned about computational fluid dynamics and massively parallel computing applied to massive volumes of data with millions of variables while studying for a Master’s degree in Aerospace. I was exposed to sophisticated machine learning techniques like neural networks, classification trees, and association rule mining at IBM. When I moved over to business, I was shocked to see how little use was being made of the math and science I was familiar with. I saw a gap. Businesses – especially in environments that are hugely complex and changing all the time like retail – needed better tools to solve their problems. I started Daisy to help everyone realize the promise of information technology to make the world more efficient, lower the cost of living for everyone, and along the way make businesses more profitable.  People like to joke that something “isn’t rocket science,” but when it comes to meeting challenges like evaluating the true ROI of promotion choices, it is actually a lot like rocket science. The thing is, now retailers of all sizes can benefit (and profit) from applying the same kind of analysis methods that rocket scientists use. BMC: Customer-centricity is a big focus for retailers these days. How can Daisy help them? GS: My view on this is a little bit on the maverick side. I believe customer-centricity actually starts with products. Transaction data is actually the most direct way customers “talk” to retailers. The reason a customer goes to the store starts with the product, and the key is giving them the products they want to buy. It’s the interplay between these two – products and customers – that’s the key to customer-centricity. It’s got to be both, and Daisy’s A.I. capabilities marry these two essential elements. That transaction data is what tells the retailer a) what products customers want to buy, and b) the patterns in which they prefer to purchase them. BMC: Daisy’s impact is particularly powerful in fresh and perishables. Why do you place so much emphasis on these departments? GS: Perishables are important, mainly because they trigger the weekly visits to the store – typically much more so than non-perishable products. For the customer, produce and meat are usually the core reasons for the trip, so it makes sense to build a promotional plan around those categories. Perishables also give retailers more freedom to do what’s right for the customer, so to speak,because they aren’t affected as much by supplier payments that are earned if a retailer promotes in a certain way, even if it actually runs counter to the retailer’s self-interest. We help retailers achieve better results with the right mix of promotions – with or without supplier payments – and perishables are a key part of this.  BMC: Aside from improving promotional effectiveness, what other challenges do you see A.I. helping grocers to overcome in the next year or two? GS: We’re working on developing A.I. solutions to improve profitability in three additional areas: Tailoring the assortment: Identifying which items to offer and how much space to allocate to each category and department. Improving the merchandising layout by improving the positioning of products in the traffic flow, determining the best distance between complementary products, and/or where key categories should be in the traffic pattern. Evaluating real estate site selection.  LOOKING AHEAD  BMC: If you are retailer or merchandiser, growth can come in 2018 from using your data in new ways and the power of A.I. services like those Daisy offers can help you improve business results +MORE

Imagine Having What Every Grocer Need to Know...In Your Pocket!

Bradley A. Zenger, Pivotal Tools

Independent Grocers are experiencing significant competition from sophisticated, technology-empowered competitors.  Chain retailers, highly targeted brick and mortar formats, as well as on-line grocery retailers are competing effectively for shoppers and shopping trips historically bound for Independent Grocers.  Independent Grocers, with their preferred locations, experienced teams, and long established customer relationships have inherent advantages.  However, they must respond effectively to gain market share as the market evolves. Successful Independent Grocers are leveraging their inherent strengths by empowering their most valuable asset, their team.  New business intelligence tools, purpose built for Independent Grocers, can empower teams to deliver amazing results. Pivotal Tools was formed to provide tools to Independent Grocers to help them compete more effectively in this increasingly competitive environment. PivotalView, from Pivotal Tools, is the emerging leader in this new category of tools.  Prior to PivotalView, the common Business Intelligence tools used by grocers included back office systems and category analysis tools. These tools, accessible only through a desktop computer, typically present lots of data frequently in printed, static reports.  Such reports are often difficult to understand and are not responsive to the demanding needs of fast moving, experienced merchants; merchants who are not analysts.  These merchants don’t need data; they need Actionable Insights delivered by tools that are available wherever and whenever merchants need them.   Actionable Insights, like those provided by PivotalView, are not presented in static reports.  Actionable Insights is engaging, interactive, information generated through advanced analytics techniques, delivered in a way that is easy to understand, easy to implement and easy to evaluate.  Actionable Insights deliver real results.  For owners PivotalView is a solution that is extremely affordable, can be deployed easily and quickly without an IT team or traditional hardware or software resources.  PivotalView allows merchants to really understand their business, respond to changing customer trends and ultimately deliver better results for customers.  Teams using PivotalView start with key business metrics, like sales, customer count, and basket size delivered automatically to their smartphone or other mobile device (or desktop computers) every morning by 5:30 a.m.  These business metrics are color coded, based on the retailer’s own targets; so that department managers, store managers, buyers, category managers as well as executives can easily prioritize efforts.  With PivotalView if a department is underperforming, its indicators are red!  Easy.  You can then “drill down” to see which sub-departments or items are driving the underperformance.  If categories are implemented, you can easily look at sales, customer count and even basket by category and then drill down to see which items are driving performance within those categories.   If you want to evaluate a particular item or group of items; maybe items on ad, placed an endcap, or on a TPR, or some other promotion; there’s an easy search feature, using either the description or the UPC/PLU.  It’s easy to find any item in the store.  Then with just a click you can see a trend chart to quickly evaluate the effectiveness of any promotional effort for that item.  Drill down to the item detail and you’ll see average selling price as well as item movement.  Want to see a movement report for a department, category, a group of items, just one click – all on your smartphone.   For multiple store chains, PivotalView allows members of each store team to easily see how their department, category, or item is performing compared to other stores in the chain.  Making this information easily available unleashes healthy competition, highlights best practices, and can even identify store voids or out of stock situations.  For chains with more centralized planning, there’s the ability to see chain level roll-ups of department and categories allowing easy identification of the stores with the best performing departments or categories within the chain.  PivotalView has been deployed in independent grocery chains up and down the West Coast for nearly 3 years and has proven that Empowered Merchants, using  PivotalView, deliver outstanding results.  Here are a few examples: Deli Manager:  Carol is the Deli manager for a store in a multi-store chain.  While she quickly acknowledges that she’s not a “technology person”, she has embraced PivotalView quickly and uses it with great impact. Carol’s results (for the last year):  Deli department sales up 6.9% vs. store sales growth of 1.9%.  Basket size growth of 5.2%. Successful introduction of several new items and quick termination of items that didn’t work for her customers. Carol’s Quote:  “I’m competitive and this tool makes me even more competitive.” Carol’s PivotalView Usage Profile:  Carol is a daily user, always before arriving at the store.  She aggressively uses PivotalView to monitor top selling items and track the performance of new items.  She also compares the performance of items in her department to other deli departments in the chain to leverage best practices and identify store voids.   The Wine Steward: Joel is a first time wine steward for a single store Independent Grocer. Joel’s results (for the last year):  Wine Department Sales: up 14% (store sales growth:  4.5%).   7% increase in customer count  - compared to 1.6% customer growth for the store.   7% increase in wine basket size compared to store basket growth of 2.8% Joel’s Quote:  “I am obsessed with Pivotal Tools. I look at it in the early morning hours. I like seeing my daily, weekly, monthly sales. If sales are in the red, it motivates me to do more selling and merchandising.” Joel’s PivotalView Usage Profile:  Daily usage, often including days off, always before arriving at the store, also used throughout the day in the store.  Joel recently integrated a category structure which, when used with PivotalView, provides more effective visibility for assortment and promotion monitoring. The Grocery Manager:  Larry is the Grocery Manager at a single store that is part of an Independent Grocery chain.   Larry’s results: Frozen sales up 6.8%  Frozen Basket size growth of 3.6%  Increased customer count of 3.1% Larry’s PivotalView Usage Profile:  Larry is a daily user, always before arriving at the store.  He uses PivotalView to aggressively pursue assortment optimization, through tracking top items and slow moving items.  He performs extensive comparison to other stores in the chain to feed his competitive spirit and ensure that he’s the top performer in the chain. Technology developments in cloud based computing, analytics techniques and smartphones now make it possible to provide team members of Independent Grocers easy access to highly relevant information, including at the item level, right on their smartphone.  Deployment of tools like PivotalView unlock the competitive nature of grocers, resulting in better performance, without additional investments in supervisory personnel, merchandisers, reports, or audits.  Actionable Insights available all the time through mobile devices, means merchants, such as department or store managers, spend more time in their departments with customers and less time in the office running reports; leading to higher levels of ownership and accountability.   For store managers and executives, PivotalView allows them to stay in touch with their stores, wherever they are, and engage with their teams, either celebrating victories or problem-solving challenges.  Using mobile devices coupled with cloud based analytics and automation virtually eliminates the support burden on IT personnel or POS coordinators, while delivering a huge cost advantage to owners. In summary, there’s never been a better time for Independent Grocers to leverage new business intelligence tools, like PivotalView from Pivotal Tools, to empower their teams to drive more shopper trips and sales in an increasingly competitive market. +MORE

PivotalView

Pivotal Tools

The Information Every Grocer Needs…on Your Smartphone PivotalView from Pivotal Tools is a mobile business intelligence tool designed specifically for grocers.  PivotalView provides store and department managers Actionable Insights and performance information right on their smartphones empowering them to deliver better results! PivotalView Empowers your Merchants to Deliver Greater Sales! Unlike traditional grocer tools, like paper movement or sales reports, PivotalView delivers Actionable Insights that are: Easy to get, Easy to understand, and Easy to evaluate Merchants using PivotalView deliver higher sales growth, less shrink and have better job satisfaction.   Designed first as a mobile tool, PivotalView delivers Actionable Insights wherever members of your team find themselves.  It’s always in their pocket! Results are available first thing in the morning, generally by 5:00 a.m..  With the color-coded scorecard feature, each merchant knows where they exceeded target and where the opportunities are.   Now with PivotalView your team knows their results before they get on the sales floor.  Unlike traditional grocer tools, they don't run reports, they "drill down" to understand why...right on their smartphone.  With a click they can view their department results, another click categories and another individual items. Merchants using PivotalView know if the Ad is working or that endcap is delivering expected lift without ever going into the office and printing out a report.  They get to the sales floor or a vendor meeting with the information they need to build on success and address opportunities.  That's an Empowered Merchant! Why consider PivotalView to Empower your Merchants?   Empowered Merchants use PivotalView every day to deliver faster sales growth, higher customer counts, and bigger baskets.  Here’s what Empowered Merchants are saying about PivotalView: “I’m using this to track two different packaging strategies on single serve cake offerings in the two stores I’m responsible for. “  -Tammy - Bakery Manager “If sales are in the red, it motivates me to do more selling and merchandising.”  - Joel - Department Manager “I love that in an Independent store, I can pull up sales data on a vendor and see the same sales data at one of my other stores to see if it is feasible for me to carry the product.  Love this app!! - Michelle – Store Manager “I'm competitive and this tool makes me even more competitive  - Carole – Deli Manager With PivotalView it's Easy! PivotalView is designed by Grocers for Grocers.  That means, it's easy to use.   Implemented by experts, PivotalView is easy to deploy, as a simple Software as a Service (SaaS) offering, with no investment up front.  It's easy to afford. +MORE

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SYNQY Brand Engagement Platform

SYNQY Corporation

SYNQY uses cloud-based technology to transform manufacturers’ brand experiences across their reseller networks. We combine a network of intelligent touch points called SYNQYs (pronounced sync-ee) with a SaaS Brand Engagement Platform that makes it easy to create and manage these SYNQYs. SYNQY’s patent-pending matchmaking technology dynamically associates high impact, manufacturer-provided content with their corresponding products – without the need for custom coding by the retailer. With a single line of code inserted through a retailer's tag management platform, SYNQY solutions automatically identifies which products get rich-media, persuasive content and adds that content next to the correct product at the point of sale. As a result, retailers can roll out the solution in minutes and shoppers will have access to the information they are seeking to make better product purchase decisions. We have proven evidence this works in both low-involvement purchases such as grocery and high involvement products such as generators, stereo equipment and even semiconductors.  SYNQY can be used on dynamically-driven ecommerce retail sites. It can also be used across dealer networks, blogger sites, factory-direct retail sites and public relations.  The SYNQY Brand Engagement Platform is the underlying technology that allows SYNQY to run many retailer/application-specific offerings.  SYNQY has launched SYNQY | PROMOTE, which is an application that delivers rich media promotional content onto loyalty/coupon pages, product listings, product detail pages and independent dealer networks.  SYNQY recently launched SYNQY | SMARTLABEL retailer solution that automatically identifies which products have associated SmartLabel content and adds that content next to the correct product at the point of sale. As a result, retailers can roll out the solution in minutes and shoppers will have access to 350 product attributes, including GMO information and allergens on thousands of products. +MORE

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TRUNO Back Office Software

TRUNO

Not only is your back office important, it’s tedious.  Our integrated solutions are designed to be efficient and intelligent to decrease your labor hours and provide the reporting you need for your bottom line. TRUNO solutions are developed for independent store back office, and large multi-store corporation management. +MORE

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BRdata Host

BRdata Software Solutions

BRdata Host™ is a powerful, flexible, feature-rich host support system. Retailers need to retrieve sales movement while controlling price and cost information from one central database daily or weekly to achieve a competitive advantage.  BRdata Host makes this all possible at an affordable price.  It is a multi-user graphical system built on Microsoft Windows technology, which provides retailers and wholesalers with the tools they need for effective item and category management.  Gain the advantage of easy integration to existing systems as well as tight integration to all of BRdata’s software product lines. Host Support Includes interfaces to most POS systems including the Standard Interchange Language (SIL).  One consolidated database for all item information.  Item prices can be broken down into multiple zones by store department or vendor.  Sales and promos are date-driven with unlimited future prices.  Host to store compare utility checks for price and item discrepancies between BRdata Host and store POS file, with an option to modify and automatically import the discrepancy batch. +MORE

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Datalogic Suite of Services

Datalogic ADC

Revolutionizing Retail Improving the In-Store Experience Delivering a valuable and relevant in-store shopping experience for today’s sophisticated and digitally connected consumer is the most difficult challenge in retail. Datalogic is applying new advanced technology to products and solutions that allow the retailer and key system integrator partners around the world to reinvent and improve the in-store shopping experience. Datalogic provides Retail Solutions for... POS Checkout, Assisted Sales, Loss Prevention - Reducing Produce Shrink / Loss, Loss Prevention – EAS Deactivation, Loss Prevention -Reducing Bottom-of-Basket (BOB) Loss, Identity / Age Verification, Form Automation, Mobile Marketing, Host Download, Cashier Training, Diagnostic and Productivity Reporting, Queue Busting, Self-Checkout and Personal Shopping. +MORE

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Price Optimization

BRdata Software Solutions

The BRdata Price Optimization Module presents the optimal price to the retailer based on item demand, gross margin percentage, competition, private label, and unit size.  Advanced TPR management rules maximize TPR profits. +MORE

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Store

BRdata Software Solutions

BRdata Store is a powerful and flexible, full-function in-store retail solution.  Retailers can track sales movement while controlling price and cost information from one central database.  BRdata store is a multi-user,graphical application.  Databases can be stored or accessed locally in the store or remotely via a thin-client connection to a BRdata Host system in a chain environment. +MORE

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