E-commerce

Autonomous Delivery Vehicles- Why They Matter, and How They Work

Adriel Lubarsky, Director of Business Development, udelv

Think of your supply chain. It probably looks something like this. Product gets shipped on a line-haul truck to a warehouse or storage facility Product gets delivered by box truck to retail location Product is purchased at the store (deliveries end) OR online, requiring one more delivery to get the product to the customer’s home While growing consumer demand means this supply chain must grow as well, delivery growth faces two major bottlenecks- the availability and the cost of drivers. As recently as 2017, the American Trucking Association reported a shortage of 45,000 drivers. This trend will continue as fewer young people seek work as drivers because of the high-risk and high-stress work of a full-time driver. Meanwhile, customers are ordering more, and delivery is gaining popularity. There are simply more deliveries than there are drivers to make them. Your business may feel this pain. While the entire supply chain feels the stress of driver shortages and autonomous vehicles will impact every leg of the journey, this post will focus on the last mile- delivering goods to the end customers. -Think about your delivery business. When did you start? The most prescient of you launched home delivery well before the dawn of the internet. Phone orders would come in, you’d load a van, and deliver the goods. This early experience likely helped delivery become a substantial part of your total sales volume. Boy, aren’t you happy you started early. Others of you are just beginning to experiment with delivery. Amazon’s recent purchase of Wholefoods made it clear that delivery is an enormous opportunity. And if you don’t go after it soon, you’ll fall behind. Whether your business was one of the first to do deliveries or is just getting into the market, know this:  e-commerce made up just 10% of all retail in 2017 and is expected to double in the next 5 years. That’s right. Imagine hiring and managing 2X as many drivers as you have now. Imagine the logistics of 2X as many orders. Imagine the costs of delivery- which seem high now- doubling by 2022. Imagine everything in your supply chain doubling- except for your bandwidth, and the price you can charge. It’s hard to imagine. And unless your business innovates in a major way, costs will grow, hiring will become ever-more-difficult, and you’ll miss the opportunity of delivery on a large scale.   To combat this disparity between growing demand for delivery and shrinking supply of drivers, autonomous vehicles are beginning to enter the supply chain.  These vehicles enable a safer, cleaner, and more efficient supply chain. Because they don’t get tired or distracted, autonomous vehicles can work longer hours and with fewer accidents. Because they don’t speed or brake hard, they use less gas and better maintain engines and brakes. And because they can be smaller and lighter than traditional vehicles, they can move goods faster and more effectively. With all these benefits, autonomous delivery vehicles have a lot to offer the typical supply chain- especially in the last mile, where drivers and gas make up almost 70% of the cost.  So all of this sounds pretty good. You read this article, and like the idea of a self-driving delivery van. You have a few meetings, look at some numbers, and are ready to purchase your first autonomous delivery vehicle. But how does an autonomous delivery actually work? -Since the driver isn’t there (obviously) to load, unload, and deliver goods, Merchants and Customers need to play a larger role in this process.  MERCHANT PROCESS A Merchant, as we define it at udelv, is anyone who will be loading the vehicle. This might be a grocery clerk, warehouse employee, or dedicated picker/packer. With udelv, it takes two steps. Share orders Load orders Share orders Since you can’t hand a piece of paper to a driver who punches an address into the GPS, you’ll need to share order information with the autonomous vehicle in advance. You can do that with any delivery management tool (like OnFleet). or an easy entry tool on the udelv website. Algorithms then do what was previously a manual task. They route and schedule the deliveries, and let your customers know what day and time they can expect their delivery. Most importantly, the times are in 15-minute windows, providing your customers amazing visibility and convenience (more on this later). Load orders All of your orders are input into the udelv Merchant app. When the vehicle arrives at your store or warehouse, or other loading location, you can open your app and see all your orders for the day.  Select an order, pick a compartment, and load it the order.  If you need to double check an order or fix something, you can go back and re-open any compartment. All of this takes less than 10 seconds/order. CUSTOMER PROCESS As a Customer, everything about autonomous deliveries needs to be as good or better than the current experience. Here, the focus is on convenience and easy access. Convenience With an autonomous vehicle, customers can track their order at every step in the process. Tracking provides peace-of-mind and greater trust in the Merchant and delivery process. Knowing the arrival time ensures that customers are available to receive the order. Standard 2-3 hour delivery windows force Customers to wait around impatiently and powerlessly. An autonomous vehicle’s precise tracking and 15-minute delivery windows means that Customers can schedule their days accordingly, transforming delivery from a chore into a pleasure. Easy Access Getting a delivery from the vehicle into the customer’s hands is all about empowering the customer. The first step is ensuring the Customer knows when and where the order will arrive, so they can be available. The second step is getting the customer to retrieve the order. Autonomous delivery companies can provide access to compartments through keypads, apps, text-to-open tools, and more. And once a customer removes their order, the vehicle continues to its next destination- safely and cheaply. Autonomous delivery vehicles promise to make deliveries cheaper for Merchants, more convenient for Customers, and more sustainable for the economy and the environment. To take advantage of the benefits, Merchants should start thinking about and testing autonomous deliveries today. Just like with innovations of the past, from e-commerce to mobile apps, the Merchants who take advantage of autonomy the earliest will see benefits the soonest. If you’re interested in learning more about piloting an autonomous delivery vehicle, visit udelv.com/FAQ or email sales@udelv.com +MORE

Are you Leaving Profits in the Basket? 10 Secrets to Increase Basket Size Week After Week

Dan Dashevsky, My Cloud Grocer

Independent supermarkets that offer products both in-store and online have an online basket size averaging between $120 and $184, based on the recent Brick Meets Click study. This compares favorably to Amazon Fresh at $84; Instacart, $98; Fresh Direct, $105; and Peapod, $147, as reported by 1010data. Out of 19 independent banners participated in the BMC study, Breadberry supermarket in Brooklyn, New York, had an online basket size of $184, the largest reported. Many of MCG’s clients have similar or even larger basket sizes than Breadberry’s. These 10 secrets have enabled our clients to achieve such outstanding results.   1.     Speed matters. Website visitors tend to care more about speed than about the bells and whistles we might be tempted to add to our websites. Google did an interesting experiment with regard to load times, asking web surfers if they would rather see 10 or 30 search results at a time. The users agreed that 30 results per page sounded like a good idea. Google then implemented this on some of their results pages. The shock came when traffic to pages that displayed 30 results dropped an astounding 20%. Google then tested the loading time difference between the 10- and 30-result pages. They found that this was just half of a second. So page loading time has been shown to be a crucial factor in user retention. It is also becoming a more important factor in search engine rankings. 2.     Product photography. The images on a site are another important factor. High-definition, mouthwatering pictures make a big difference when it comes to food shopping. Many website owners opt for the easy solution, and only display product images they can easily obtain from publicly available databases such as Kweeki and Item Master. These databases do not include all products, however, and image quality is often poor and inconsistent. The time and effort invested in high quality product photography to ensure that every product carried in the store is online and has a beautiful image pays good long-term dividends. 3.     Less is more. Instead of cluttering pages with as much product info as possible, keep it simple. Make the product image and a brief description the center of attention. Then you can add to the page some relevant and popular products to help customers remember to buy products that they may otherwise forget. 4.     “Shop by recipe.” Customers are looking for creative ideas to keep their meals fun. With a Shop by Recipes feature, they can find a recipe, click, and send ingredients to their shopping cart. The more interesting it is to browse your online store, the more your customers will buy from you. 5.     “My favorites.” Customers complete their shopping list much faster when they start with a pre-populated list of the products they normally buy. Once they are done with the basics, they have time to browse for more products, adding to the total basket size. 6.     Digital circulars. Everyone loves savings, and the more the better. Having plenty of items on weekly specials not only increases your in-store traffic but also increases your online basket size. Your printed flyer can only fit a limited number of items before it begins to look like a flea market and becomes impossible to read. Online, there is no limit to how many items you can display on special. Customers simply flip to the next page and keep on adding savings to their shopping cart. 7.     Quick re-order. By giving customers the ability to quickly send all the items from their previous order directly to their shopping cart, you’re simplifying their life and minimizing the possibility that they may forget an item or two. 8.     Keep it fresh. Let’s face it, shopping for groceries is not a recreational activity, but if you keep on introducing new products, it becomes more interesting, and this too will be reflected in your basket size. 9.     Accurate order fulfillment. Customers who are using your online order service are doing so for convenience, They want to save time for other priorities. If you fulfill their order quickly, and most important, accurately, you will see many more orders and higher order amounts now that they have trust in your service. Many MCG clients see increase in online basket size with customers who are placing their third and fourth orders. Once they develop the trust in your service, they will reward you with loyalty and larger basket sizes. 10. Good customer service. As in brick and mortar stores, good customer service is the key to success. This is what differentiates you from your competitors. Be ready to replace the not-so-fresh strawberries that a personal shopper put into a customer’s bag by mistake. Customers will buy more online from you if they are confident that if something is not satisfactory you will take good care of them. +MORE

udelv

udelv

udelv is the first custom-made, public-road autonomous and electric delivery vehicle. udelv's vehicle will bring forth a dramatic decrease in the cost of local deliveries, add delivery window flexibility, and significantly reduce a city's carbon footprint. Clean and affordable deliveries mean reimagining city life, and revolutionizing business. +MORE

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Grocery is Going Digital. The Time is Now.

CART

Online grocery sales are growing fast. A recent report released by FMI and The Nielsen Company states that 23% of U.S. households purchased groceries online in 2016, up from 19% in 2014, and representing an estimated 4.3% of U.S. consumer retail food and beverage spending. The report goes on to state that as many as 70% of U.S. consumers will be buying groceries online by 2025, spending more than $100 billion, an estimated 20% of consumer food and beverage spending.1 Grocery is going digital far faster than many predicted and the time is now for traditional retailers to stake their claim. +MORE

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Crowdsourced Picking&Delivery for eCommerce

ReadyCart.co

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Crowdsourced Picking&Delivery Technology for retailer's eCommerce solution - laser focused around maximizing customer satisfaction and retailer profitability. ReadyCart Crowdsourced Picking&Delivery Technology Crowdsourced network build and eCommerce integration Retailer specific training collaboration and creation Network onboarding and ecosystem to handle training, scheduling, payment etc. Crowdsourced Picking&Delivery Technology  Picking&Delivery App Delivery Analytics Portal +MORE

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Turnkey Online Shopping

CART

Supermarket operators are being pushed to put in place online shopping capabilities to maintain their revenues and market share as grocery shopping moves online at a fast-growing pace. Many industry studies are projecting that 10% to as much as 20% of sales may move online within the next five to eight years. Other studies show that grocery eCommerce sales are growing over 20% annually compared to the low growth, many times stagnant, sales in brick & mortar retail. GrocerKey is one of many... +MORE

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My Cloud Grocer Solution Guide

CART

My Cloud Grocer provides a retailer-branded online shopping solution to supermarket retailers. The online shopping site is responsive (will display properly on desktop, smartphone, and tablet screens) and features fast load times and payment functionality using token technology surpassing PCI compliance. My Cloud Grocer provides the retailer with support for picking, managing, and delivering orders. The company’s retail clients have experienced increased overall sales, due to reduced scatter... +MORE

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End-To-End eGrocery Solution

Self-Point

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Self-Point provides the very best online grocery experience: Order picking is seamlessly integrated with your existing point of sale (POS) solution. It’s as if you scanned the item at the checkout counter! Custom branded online grocery e-commerce site with pictures of each item and updated pricing directly from your current POS solution. Tablet app and mobile app for instant picking and scanning of groceries. Customers can order across all platforms including the website, mobile app and tablet. Custom branded marketing package to promote your new online grocery store. Detailed analytics of storewide sales and individual customer trends. +MORE

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Managed Online Grocery Solution

My Cloud Grocer

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We launch and manage e-commerce websites for supermarkets. Our clients win the fiercely competitive omni-channel battle for customers.   You enjoy all the benefits of a fully managed, branded, fully integrated proprietary website. And you retain ownership of your customers. We leverage a state-of-the-art enterprise platform for efficiency, and then as developers we customize to meet the unique needs of our individual clients.  We don't stop at launch. We optimize on an ongoing basis to provide your shoppers with the ultimate online experience. That's why our clients get online sales at a rate far higher than current market trends, and without retail cannibalization. It's fast, highly secure and surprisingly affordable. If you're ready to launch an advanced e-commerce website or optimize your current e-commerce website, then let's talk.  +MORE

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Freshop

Freshop

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Freshop provides a friendly, powerful shopping destination that will make your customers happy and loyal. Online commerce sales are increasing every year and consumers are more and more comfortable ordering produce and other perishables online. To compete grocery stores must become destinations and Freshop makes your digital presence a strong destination to complement your in-store experience. Our team has worked with some of the top minds in grocery and we have layered those experiences with our unsurpassed knowledge and skills in the digital world. Web, social, search, commerce and analytics are what we live and breathe. Freshop is easy to use on any device. Web visitors can explore all of your products and services and quickly plan their meals and shopping. Your mobile customers will have the full power of the system with streamlined experiences to exceed their expectations, driving more business to your stores.   +MORE

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Mobile Checkout

FutureProof Retail

The Mobile Checkout retail platform digitizes brick and mortar stores, bringing the convenience and personalization of eCommerce to physical retailers and their customers. Mobile Checkout Eliminates the Lines Mobile Checkout is a brandable iOS and Android app, a better system than self-checkout for the complete shopping experience from scan to payment. Private White-label Retailers deepen the customer relationship and own the install by deploying the platform as their own-brand staff and shopper apps. Scan Products Customers scan and bag while shopping. Mobile Payment Pay securely with credit card or mobile wallet directly through the app. Skip the Line Customers never wait in line to check out. Customize to your needs Expand the system with functionality like loyalty programs or counter service mobile ordering.     +MORE

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Digital Foodie

Digital Foodie Ltd.

Digital Foodie Ondemand provides a fully customizable SaaS platform for digital grocery. The platform is used by major retailers and brands, operating currently in North America, Europe and Asia. For consumers, Foodie provides apps that empowers people to shop online, consume smarter and eat better. Foodie delivers highly personalized food and product recommendations that make everyday shopping easy and fun. For retailers, the platform provides all the tools needed to run modern digital operations including click and collect service and home deliveries. Digital Foodie Ondemand platform is currently available on web, iPad, iPhone, Android and Windows Phone. Digital Foodie is venture-backed by US based e-commerce growth fund, Blackdragon Capital, and part of their EnterWorks Holding group portfolio. Today they employ grocery industry experts and technology specialists in two different continents and several locations. Foodie’s award-winning recommendation technology ensures truly personalized omnichannel experience for consumers, increasing loyalty and sales. The service enables consumers to create and share shopping lists, make click & collect and home delivery orders and plan their weekly menus with “one click to cart” –recipes.  Foodie’s fulfillment tools are designed for real-time order management and they enable cost efficient picking and delivery processes. For back office Digital Foodie provides all the administrative tools needed for creating and managing store content and for monitoring, measuring and optimizing service performance. Foodie’s platform scales from independent store owners to very large enterprises.   +MORE

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GrocerKey

GrocerKey

GrocerKey is a white label end-to-end technology solution for grocery stores. Included is a branded web site featuring an online store. GrocerKey has created a faster and more desirable ordering process than any other e-commerce grocery platform on the market. The GrocerKey admin allows you to update store settings in real time, stay on top of your stores performance with real time analytics, and prepare your store for pickup, scheduled delivery, and on-demand delivery. The GrocerKey back-end operations app provides your staff with the tools they need to run an efficient and successful operation. +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

Amazon is Not the Only Threat to Retailers as Big CPG Manufacturers Go Direct

Gary Hawkins, CART

Supermarket retailers have been consumed with Amazon over the past year as the digital behemoth acquired Whole Foods and ramped up efforts to expand its online grocery business. And while its easy to understand the focus on Amazon, retailers need to be aware of another looming threat as some of the largest brand manufacturers look to engage with shoppers directly leveraging new digital capabilities. Two years ago Unilever acquired Dollar Shave Club, the direct to consumer phenom, attracted by the company’s growth and direct consumer relationships. Since then Unilever has gone on to publicly speak about the company’s goal to build a database of over 1 billion shoppers around the world which the company can leverage to communicate - and sell - directly to the shopper.  Procter & Gamble has for some time now quietly partnered with Amazon to sell its core products directly to shoppers, bypassing traditional brick & mortar retailers. P&G is committed to exploring and leveraging new channels enabling the company to build direct relationships with shoppers. Unilever and P&G are not alone in looking to seize the opportunity provided by the industry’s digital transformation and build direct relationships with the consumers buying their products. Digital marketing, especially the growth of mobile, has made it possible and cost effective for brands to bypass retailers. This trend of brand manufacturers selling directly opens a new front in the ongoing battle for shoppers.  Retailers’ response to this growing threat should be two-fold. The first is retailers leveraging best-in-class digital marketing capabilities to develop and grow customer relationships driven by contextual relevancy. The second is the strategic use of private label products, especially for regional and larger retailers who can directly control the selection and positioning of their store-brand products.  Many retailers, of all sizes, believe that brand manufacturers are dependent on brick & mortar supermarket retail to drive brand sales. Brand manufactures though regularly evaluate the cost of selling through different channels: Is selling through Costco or BJ’s Wholesale Club more profitable than selling through the regional supermarket retailer? Is selling through Amazon or Boxed more profitable? Which channel enables the brand to reach their target audience the most effectively? So while retailers must continue their focus on the threat posed by Amazon, they must also begin to consider the challenge provided by a growing number of trading partners selling directly to consumers and develop strategies to mitigate the impact. +MORE

The CART Virtual Pitch Event / Spring 2018

Gary Hawkins, CART

Hundreds of participants joined a distinguished panel of retailers and wholesalers on May 15th, 2018, as they stepped together into the Innovation Gap with Sterling Hawkins, Head of Venture and Innovation at CART and David Ciancio, Global Customer Strategist for dunnhumby, for the Spring Retail Innovation Pitch Event 2018.  The first-ever live webcast retail innovation pitch event, held in partnership with Winsight Grocery Business and with support from ShoptoCook and Curbside, consisted of four ten-minute pitches from udelv, BeeHex, Brain Corp and Popspots. The chosen pitch companies were selected from over 250 applicants and represent the leading edge of innovation coming into the retail industry. "Emerging technology isn’t just a possibility to consider,” said Sterling Hawkins, "it’s become a necessity as the pace of change increases exponentially in tandem with the dramatic power shift from industry-driven decisions to savvy consumers who want to be reached how, when and where they want to engage. Emerging technologies are advancing at a rate that’s almost incomprehensible. When we combine the linear trajectory that most of retail is on with what’s technologically possible, it opens up a gap, The Innovation Gap." Key retail decision-makers understand the value of working in The Innovation Gap. Importantly, it isn’t just what’s technologically possible, it has to be economically viable. “Wholesale partners and panelists make the whole thing real,” said Sterling. “It’s in this space where we get to look at the business to understand not only what we can do differently but what we can actually do better, grounded in the reality of retail operations.” Dave Ciancio reinforced the importance of stepping into the Innovation Gap, explaining how even a seasoned, entrepreneurial global company like dunnhumby, with innovation part of it’s core DNA, now looks externally to keep on top of change to best serve their clients’ more than 800 million households around the world in a 1:1 personalized conversation. Adriel Lubarsky, Director of Business Development at udelv kicked off the pitches, and appropriately set the stage when he shared, “the future is going to be remarkable!”  udelv, announced as the CART Virtual Pitch Event / Spring 2018 winner, epitomizes the exponential change in the industry. The founders’ determined strategy to bring udelv’s self-driving delivery vehicle to market years before self-driving vehicles were expected to be on public roads places them squarely in position to shape the future of autonomous delivery with technology that actually works much like a human brain to crunch data and make decisions. Large enough to handle significant loads and capable of launching in any state, udelv is currently working in multiple industries with vehicles co-designed to meet and exceed delivery expectations, even mastering the cold-chain.  As an example, udelv is delivering groceries to Draeger's customers in California with customized, honeycomb insulated compartments ensuring fresh foods stay fresh and consistently cold. They’ve even moved beyond using a mobile app with their text-to-open technology. As eCommerce explodes, the future is certainly bright for the winner of the Pitch Event. Finalist Popspots is focused on cost-effectively solving the $26 billion dollar problem of out-of stocks for retailers using in-store technology and artificial intelligence. Popspot plays in the checkout aisles with a combination of smart racks and mini-computer screens so retailers can quickly be notified of out-of-stocks and work to recoup lost sales and generate a strong ROI. Cost-effective, and with weekly reports, centralized oversight and potential to share best practices between store locations, this solution is already making great strides in the industry. The CART Virtual Pitch Event / Spring 2018 finalist BeeHex was originally funded by NASA and maintains a strong commitment to R&D with solid funding and numerous awards. While the company’s 3D printing solution can be implemented in production facilities or in-store, BeeHex feels the ideal spot is in the bakery department, freeing team members to focus on customers, and letting the machines do the work. The BeeHex 3D Dessert Decorating tool cleanly and efficiently decorates baked goods with pre-filled, disposable pouches of frosting. Capable of reducing production time on simple or complex decorating projects, BeeHex generates a quick ROI and is ready to embrace making a decorator's ideas reality. Envisioning the future, the BeeHex mission ultimately is to personalize food to the individual customer. BrainCorp is developing intelligent self-driving technology for commercial equipment and is being initially implemented with robotic floor cleaners. Their dual mode robotic floor scrubbers can work manually or autonomously and only need a single training session to learn the route around the store. These intelligent robots provide reliable cleaning, improve employee safety and maximize efficiency and productivity with in-depth reporting. Their  inter-navigation software is the company's “secret sauce’ and their capability of maneuvering in real-life situations makes them safe to use around customers. ————————————————— Join CART and Winsight Grocery Business for the Fall 2018 Retail Innovation Pitch Webcast on Wednesday, October 10th! +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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Real-Time Insights: Amazon Prime at Whole Foods

Gary Hawkins, CART

Its been a year since Amazon acquired Whole Foods, triggering a grocery industry innovation war and a stampede online. While there has been increasing activity since then the actual impact of Amazon’s entry into brick & mortar retail has been unknown… until now. The integration of Amazon’s Prime loyalty program to Whole Foods has accelerated changing shopping behavior and a recent study by Sense360 brings to light powerful insights as to just what’s going on. And traditional supermarket retailers have good reason to be concerned. With an estimated 80 million Prime members in the U.S. and an estimated 20 million of them shopping at Whole Foods, the potential impact Amazon can have through this integration is massive.  Here are the top 5 insights shared by CART and the Sense360 research team in the recent webinar: 1) Amazon’s integration of its Prime loyalty program at Whole Foods is designed to create an everyday benefit for Prime Members, and it appears to be working. From the behavioral data gathered by Sense360, Amazon shoppers are 27% more likely to visit Whole Foods than non-Amazon shoppers. Both Whole Foods shoppers and Amazon shoppers appreciate value with both groups indicating Value for Money and Good Everyday Prices are motivators.  2) Through the Prime integration at Whole Foods, Amazon is creating a powerful self-reinforcing value proposition - a flywheel - that is driving business. By offering new discounts and savings at Whole Foods only for Prime members, Amazon is acquiring new Prime users who in turn not only continue to shop at Whole Foods but are drawn into Amazon’s greater ecosystem. At the same time, Amazon is attracting a growing number of existing Prime members into the Whole Foods stores because of the new savings. This creates a powerful competitive advantage that other retailers are challenged to address. 3) The impact of this strategy is driving significant lift in traffic for Whole Foods, especially from Amazon Prime members. According to the Sense360 research, 90% of Prime members who participated in Whole Foods deals planned to take advantage of them again on future shopping trips. Research data also showed that Whole Foods increased its conversion rate; the percentage of all grocery shoppers that visited Whole Foods grew from 4.8% to 5.8% 4) Amazon’s strategy is impacting almost every retailer - and the pain has just begun. The impact of Prime at Whole Foods is still early and yet it is already helping Whole Foods gain share of customer and share of market. Factor in Amazon taking Whole Foods’ private label products online, making shelf-stable products available to any shopper across the U.S., and the opportunity for growth explodes. Amazon is now a direct competitor to every retailer and, increasingly, to well known consumer product goods manufacturers. 5) By extending Prime into Whole Foods, Amazon is now collecting shopper-identified grocery purchase data. Put together with the 20 years worth of data collected across Amazon’s platform, Amazon most likely has the largest trove of shopper data of any company in the U.S. Data-decisioning is at the heart of how Amazon operates and retailers attempting to compete without rich shopper data are increasingly disadvantaged.  Amazon is well known for personalizing each interaction with online shoppers, presenting products it believes you are interested in from past browsing, searches, and purchases. It is only a matter of time until this personalization begins to make its way into Whole Foods’ marketing now that Amazon is gathering shopper-identified transaction data via the Prime integration. And Amazon will not stop at just marketing relevancy; they will focus on what I think of as strategic personalization, tailoring the information, products, and even pricing, to the individual shopper with a goal of maximizing spending, shopping frequency, and retention over time. Very few retailers have the data and systems capabilities to go to market this way; Kroger is perhaps the most attuned to this approach, having focused on precision targeted, personalized promotions for the past decade. But Amazon’s entry onto the grocery field of battle will give Kroger a fight as both companies look to leverage shopper data. By integrating its Prime loyalty program into Whole Foods, Amazon has fundamentally changed grocery competition. And the battle is just getting started. The webcast, including all the Sense360 research and data, can be viewed at Real-Time Insights about Amazon Prime at Whole Foods  To view the original article which appeared on Winsight Grocery Business, click here. +MORE

Amazon Prime at Whole Foods: What’s the Impact?

Gary Hawkins, CART

When Amazon acquired Whole Foods a year or so ago, many industry pundits speculated that Amazon would extend its Prime loyalty program to the brick-and-mortar grocer. While it took some time to accomplish the necessary systems integrations, Amazon did just that: It rolled the program out in the past couple of months, providing special discounts and savings to Prime members shopping at Whole Foods. And integrated it is. As a Whole Foods shopper, I was struck by the good job Amazon has done executing the integration of Prime across the store. From signage at the entrance and other points around the store touting the benefits of being a Prime member, to signage on sale products announcing savings for Prime members, to the training of staff and cashiers, the execution in the store we shop at was well done. Downloading the Whole Foods app, I signed in using my Amazon credentials; a QR code was created that is scanned at checkout, identifying me as a Prime customer and triggering the special prices and deals. As WGB recently reported, Prime is being well-received by Whole Foods shoppers. “Prime members have adopted this [Whole Foods] benefit; it's one of the fastest rates we've ever seen for a Prime benefit,” Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky said in a conference call reviewing Amazon’s second-quarter financial results. “They've already saved millions of dollars on everything from seasonal favorites to … popular daily sales.” Beyond the obvious impact of Prime helping drive Whole Foods sales, what else is happening? What are other implications of Whole Foods being so tightly integrated with Prime? The first, and perhaps most important, implication is data. Amazon, through the Prime integration, is now able to link purchases made at Whole Foods with that same shopper on Amazon’s broader platform. To a company like Amazon, data is everything; it is the fuel that powers the Amazon engine. Amazon will gain powerful insights by understanding shopper purchasing behavior across the brick-and-mortar store and online. And there are other implications in today’s omnichannel world of retail. Amazon, the digital deity, is a master of digital engagement, providing a seamless experience across all touch points. Is that prowess transferring to the Whole Foods experience?  CART is releasing an exclusive report powered by Sense360 exposing powerful insights on the impact of Prime at Whole Foods, including: Change in Whole Foods market share. How Prime Day impacted Whole Foods and competing retailers. Do Amazon app users visit Whole Foods more often? Whole Foods' overlap with other grocery retailers. Insights by customer segment. Join the CART team on Thursday, Aug. 9, at 2:00 p.m. EST/11 a.m. PST, for a webinar that will release and share detailed insights and analytics coming out of unique research measuring and quantifying the impact of Prime at Whole Foods: Realtime Insights about Amazon Prime at Whole Foods.  Register for the webinar by clicking here. To view the original article which appeared in Winsight Grocery Business, click here.   +MORE

Dynamic Pricing in the Age of Amazon

Gary Hawkins, Advancing Retail

Richard Kestenbaum does a good job of explaining dynamic pricing and how it can be used by internet retailers in his recent Forbes article Your Friend May Pay Less Than You For The Same Things You're Buying. Online retailers have available countless points of data on you as a shopper when you visit their site including such things as if you’re a repeat visitor, what competitors sites you’ve visited, what types of products you buy, and so on. Sophisticated online retailers effectively tag shoppers to a cohort, a group or segment of similar shoppers, and may establish cohort-specific pricing. Dynamic, cohort-based pricing differs from product based demand pricing. Easy examples are airlines charging different prices based on demand or stores that increase the price of umbrellas on a rainy day. The practice of demand-based product pricing is well established in retail and much less threatening to retailers than customer-based pricing. Richard goes on to explain different scenarios when online retailers may be using dynamic pricing, calling out the practice is entirely legal as long as the differentiation is not based on race, religion, national origin, or other bases of illegal discrimination. Whether you agree or disagree with the idea of dynamic pricing, the practice is here to stay as retailers battle for shoppers. Some number of online retailers use dynamic pricing and are, understandably, reluctant to talk about their initiatives. Then there are others, like Derick O’Carroll, the CEO of Brightpearl, which provides back office services to online merchants, who bluntly states that “[Retailers that charge] people different prices for the same product are being boneheaded.” As a long-time retailer with a history of pioneering loyalty in the US supermarket sector and leading early industry learning on customer level economics and behavior, I take exception to Mr. O’Carroll’s comment. As anyone involved in supermarket retail knows, it has been - and continues to be - standard operating procedure for retailers to advertise weekly specials at low margin, sometimes even below cost, to attract shoppers to their stores. The hope is that those shoppers attracted by low or negative margin deals will purchase other products, providing an acceptable level of gross margin to the retailer. The problem is that there are some number of shoppers who are attracted by the deals and visit the store… but all they purchase are the deals, leaving the retailer with a low-margin sale or even a pure loss. When we first uncovered this insight years ago it was eye-opening. If some portion of sales is being done at low margin or even an outright loss, where are the profits coming from to cover operational costs and provide a profit? The answer: Our most valuable shoppers. In a very real sense, our most valuable shoppers were paying more than their fair share, literally subsidizing the low or negative margin purchases made by their neighbors. As a retailer I did not feel this was right. That insight led us to driving a great deal of our marketing focus, and spending, to our most valuable shoppers. As my friend Brian Woolf was fond of saying, “If a shopper is going to use a store just for the convenience of buying the low-margin sale items, then let them pay convenience store prices.” Thus started myriad programs designed to direct superior value to our most valuable shoppers through rewards, incentives, and even differentiated pricing - special low price deals available only to our most valuable shoppers. What was the result of this customer-intelligent approach to retail? A significant increase in sales from the already most valuable shoppers and, as we began to intelligently direct promotional spending to the right shoppers at the right time, a reduction in discount spending and accompanying gains to gross margin. We did this years ago and proved the impact of customer intelligent marketing. Kroger has followed a very similar strategy for more than the past decade, leveraging its vast customer data to personalize offers and promotions and pricing to great effect. Many other retailers like Albertsons / Safeway are following suit. While I understand the economic rationale of product demand-based pricing, I do not like it. It too often strikes me (as a shopper) as taking advantage of circumstances (just because its raining and I need an umbrella) that leaves a sour taste with the potential customer. But customer-based pricing makes a lot of sense. When I was a practicing retailer, I would have many shoppers question why we were giving different customers different prices on the same products. When I explained what we were doing, helping the shopper understand that as a ‘best’ customer they help subsidize the ‘cherry pickers’, you could almost see the light bulb go on at the moment of understanding. Customer-based pricing - let’s call it personalized pricing - takes sophisticated systems and comprehensive digital engagement with shoppers to maximize effectiveness. It is an approach that enables the retailer to make strategic investments against different shoppers that helps maximize the ROI of promotional spending. And when competing with Amazon or Kroger, it offers a path to success. +MORE

The Robots are Coming Home!

Gary Hawkins, CART

According to an article in Bloomberg Technology (Big Tech is Throwing Money and Talent at Home Robots) today, robots are going to be showing up in our homes within the next two years. Companies like Amazon and Alphabet (Google’s parent company) are funding secret projects to develop robotic assistants for the home. These automated butlers will be speaking with us, taking directions by voice, and able to do a growing number of household chores, going far beyond today’s Roomba. AI powered robots in the home are positioned to take replenishment to the next level. These ‘tools’ will not only take orders from household members - ‘hey Rosie, we need more Cheerios’ - but be able to suggest, plan, and eventually prepare meals.  What retailers are not prepared for is thinking of AI powered ‘bots as shoppers. We’re seeing early iterations of this as Amazon’s Dash buttons are used by a growing number of households to easily reorder a product, smart appliances automatically reorder supplies through integration with Amazon’s Dash service, and smart refrigerators track product code dates for freshness. How do retail marketers gain the next shopping trip when the decision maker is Rosie, the real life robotic assistant in the Jetson’s? How do retailers influence what’s in the basket, encourage more shopping trips, and grow loyalty over time? It’s hard to believe that the robotic embodiment of Alexa will respond to promotions or recognition the way humans do. This quandary is not idle speculation. Voice-based commerce will account for an estimated $2 billion in purchases this year, exploding to a projected $44 billion in annual purchases within the next three years. Marketers are having to face the challenge now of how to influence shopping behavior when the shopper is simply speaking to Alexa (or Google Assistant, etc.) to make purchases.  As if retailers’ don’t have enough challenges to address, now they need to start thinking about how to please Rosie the Maid. +MORE

Customer Touchpoints and the Human Experience

Gary Hawkins, CART

I was visiting someone in the hospital the other day and, looking about the room, noticed an Amazon Echo installed on the wall opposite the hospital bed. There was a sign under the device telling patients that they could ask Alexa to call their nurse or make other requests. In speaking with the nurse I learned that Amazon is working with the hospital in a pilot to test the application of Alexa in the hospital environment. Beyond the hospital, Amazon is pushing Alexa into the hospitality industry where a growing number of hotels are putting the digital assistant in rooms so guests can request services just by asking. While this alone is fascinating, and illustrates just how far and how fast voice-based technology is moving, it really opens up a larger discussion on customer touchpoints. Retailers today have a fast growing number of ways to connect with a shopper, inside and outside the store. And, more than ever before, retailers need to be mindful of the human experience they are providing across those myriad touchpoints because in today’s digital world, user experience is everything. Consider the myriad ways a retailer can touch a shopper: In the digital world that includes the website, mobile, email, text, social media, and more. A Deloitte study calls out that “more than 60% of customers interact through multiple channels and irrespective of time, place, device, or medium, they expect consistency.” In the store, retailers can engage using kiosks, mobile, and the POS. We can’t forget about print, including the weekly ad and direct mail, along with television, radio, and other mass channels. And of course, just like in the hospital, voice will soon be everywhere. A good exercise for retail marketers to go through is to create an inventory of all the touchpoints they currently use, and then alongside that create a list of other touchpoints that could be deployed or used. Once the list of existing touchpoints is created, work to understand which shoppers are using each and why. For example, do high-value shoppers regularly use your mobile app? Do more convenience shoppers gravitate to your website?  Don’t forget about your associates; oftentimes they are the only interaction the shopper has with your business. The Wall Street Journal had an article recently about how airlines are arming their flight attendants with extensive data on their flyers to facilitate service on board. As a very frequent flyer I have experienced this firsthand, the attendant addressing me by name and asking if I would like my usual drink. Retailers have untapped potential to arm in-store associates with product and customer intelligence via smartphones to help them provide better service. One of the largest challenges traditional retailers face is having disparate capabilities and an inability to provide the seamless digital experience across devices and touchpoints that today’s shoppers are expecting… and demanding. Another Deloitte study (Customer Ambitions Delivered) states “research shows 89% of market leaders expect to compete primarily on the basis of customer experience - a number that has jumped from 36% four years ago. As more companies realize the benefits of engaging with their customers along every touchpoint, customers are growing accustomed to top-of-the-line experiences. Modern customers expect a tailored experience— one with flexible purchasing options, painless technology integrations, and ample opportunities to provide feedback if they receive stellar or sub-par products or services.” Retailers can then extend the inventory of touchpoints exercise, thinking through the ‘mission’ of each touchpoint and its role in growing (retailer brand) awareness, shopper acquisition, growth, and retention. Core to this is making every interaction across each touchpoint contextually relevant to the shopper. Again, the human experience is critically important. Every customer engagement at every touchpoint provides an opportunity to learn more about the shopper and, for digital touchpoints, provide a more personalized experience. To do this requires identifying the shopper as quickly and easily as possible so that you respond with relevant offers and information. Increasingly we are seeing digital displays and signage in the store incorporate cameras and other sensors able to provide additional analytics and insights to customer behavior. Best practices: Create and maintain a list of customer touchpoints used. Consider grouping the touchpoints such as digital, print, in-store, etc. to better understand your capabilities Create a ‘mission’ for each touchpoint which forces you to think through how it can be used to support shopper acquisition, growth, and retention Work to create a platform infrastructure that ‘feeds’ each touchpoint to create the seamless - and relevant - experience shoppers want Use every touchpoint and customer engagement to learn; improving the relevancy of the engagement and learning to make the touchpoint more valuable Any digital touchpoints should be fed by realtime intelligence reflecting the latest interactions the shopper has had with you _____________________________ To learn more join the CART team along with Kate Favrow, Corporate Marketing Manager for AWG, and Roger Marin, CIO of Draeger’s, for the upcoming Customer Touchpoints webinar on Tuesday, July 24, at 2pm Eastern. View article on Winsight Grocery Business here   +MORE

The Amazon Doctrine and the Innovation Arms Race

Gary Hawkins, CART on Winsight Grocery Business

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has long understood the value of being out in front as technology innovation fundamentally alters the rules of competition. While other companies have long based competitive strategy on technology, what’s different is this point in time: We are at the inflection point on the exponential growth curve of computer processing power where noticeable change happens at an ever-increasing pace. Amazon is leveraging its innovation leadership position harnessed together with its vast resources to overwhelm the traditional grocery industry, relegating many retailers to the proverbial corner convenience store. Sound familiar? It should. In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan, in what was to become known as the Reagan Doctrine, leveraged the powerful U.S. economy with the country’s burgeoning military innovation to launch an arms race with the Soviet Union. The result, as we all know, led to the collapse of the USSR and the end of the cold war. Last year’s acquisition of Whole Foods by Amazon triggered a grocery innovation arms race, throwing traditional retailers into a war few were prepared for. How bad is it? As Recode recently reported, Amazon spent nearly $23 billion on innovation research and development last year (2017), up 41% from the year before—more than any other U.S. company, That’s more than Microsoft, Intel, Facebook and even Apple spent on R&D. To put that in perspective for the grocery industry, a report from the IHL Groupstates: “Amazon’s 2016 R&D spending was more than the top 20 retailers (excluding Walmart) technology spending combined … and about 75%-85% of the top retailers’ IT budgets is spent on simply maintaining and upgrading existing systems. As such, retailers are completely outgunned when it comes to spending on IT.” And yet more evidence of the Amazon doctrine in action: The battle for voice-based commerce is already over—long before most retail executives knew the battle had even started. According to USA Today, “Purchases made through devices like Google Home and Amazon’s Echo are projected to leap from $2 billion today to $40 billion by 2022.” Here’s the kicker: “Amazon is forecast to have 70% of the voice-enabled speaker market this year (2018), per Tech Crunch. By 2020, it’s projected that there will be 128 million Alexa devices installed.” Amazon is aggressively expanding the Alexa platform, weaving it into everyday life, through partnerships with auto manufactures, home appliance makers, and even Microsoft to bring Alexa into the workplace. Amazon's Formidable Lead But innovation spending is not the entire challenge. No matter how much a retailer may spend on innovation today, it cannot overcome the lead Amazon has built. Patent filing activity provides a view into the overwhelming power of the Amazon doctrine. Amazon received 1,963 patents in 2017 and holds more patents than any other retailer in the industry (7,096). By comparison, Walmart, perhaps the most serious traditional retail competitor, holds only 349 patents. It may already be too late for a good number of traditional supermarket operators. The innovation arms race has gone nuclear as Kroger partners with Ocado to build automated fulfillment centers and Nuvo to use automated self-driving vehicles to deliver orders. Beyond digital disciples such as Kroger and Walmart, few retail companies have the wherewithal to invest so heavily in new innovation in an effort to keep pace with Amazon, the deity of digital. Innovation spending aside, many multibillion-dollar regional retailers are what I think of as digitally discombobulated. Many of these companies are trying to do the right thing, investing in e-commerce, putting the customer at the center of their business strategy and launching new digital services. But too often these retailers end up with overlapping capabilities, expensive or impossible system integrations, digital silos, and fractured user experiences. The very nature of competition has fundamentally changed and many industry executives do not yet get it. How important is user experience? Very. My wife and I regularly order restaurant meals delivered to our home. Living in southern California, we have our choice of delivery services; DoorDash, Grubhub, Eat24, Delish, Uber Eats, and many more. Yet for all those choices, Amazon Restaurants has won nearly all our business because of a seemingly simple thing: I can track the delivery driver in real-time through the app, knowing—literally to the minute—when dinner will be at our door. What should frighten retailers the most is that this battle is just getting started. As innovation accelerates, it is driving convergence between historically disparate capabilities and even industries. Companies such as Label Insight are using AI to deconstruct the typical package nutrition information into dozens or even hundreds of granular data points. Separately, health industry innovators are using cutting-edge data science to understand the individual person’s unique, granular nutritional requirements based on gender, weight, age and specific health conditions. At the same time, Apple is reported to be working on noninvasive real-time monitoring of an individual’s glucose levels. A well-known university is able to ascertain a person’s vitamin levels from a teardrop. And then there’s ScriptSave, with its long history of innovation in the pharmacy space, knitting together disparate capabilities to transform and personalize the health and wellness space. Think of it as a virtual dietitian helping guide the shopper to beneficial products across the store, ultimately driving recommendations off real-time health monitoring. And then embedding this capability at the intersection of food and healthcare.  What's the Next Move for Retailers? What are retailers to do? Is there any way to compete? Here are a few thoughts: Think integrated platforms not point solutions. This is especially important when considering customer-facing digital capabilities. Avoid disparate solutions powering up a splintered experience; one AI “brain” should be driving personalized, relevant engagement across every channel and touchpoint. Don’t build tech internally. Unless you are Kroger or Walmart, don’t think about building IT solutions internally; technology is moving too fast and has become too specialized. Instead, leverage advanced cloud-based solutions that provide a “technology putty”—leading edge capabilities molded to your brand and operations. Move faster. If there is one thing that I think endangers traditional retailers more than anything else it is the slow pace at which they are moving. There is no place for five-year plans; the game will be long over by then. Remember, you are now in a world of exponential growth of innovation—speed counts. So, is all lost for traditional retailers? Is the dominance of Amazon and the digital disciples a foregone conclusion? No, but retail executives must understand that shopper expectations now rule, that tech-based innovation is the new battleground, and that tomorrow will no longer resemble today. To view original article: Winsight Grocery Business +MORE

Mercato

Mercato, Inc.

Mercato connects you to the best artisans, purveyors and merchants in your community, making it easier, faster and more convenient than ever to get the best food - delivered.  Designed by an independent grocer from Brooklyn, NY with a mission to help local businesses compete and win.  Get your store online in minutes. ​Get inventory online Search 100,000+ items in the Mercato product catalog by name, category, or product code, or upload an inventory file to get thousands of products online in minutes. Setup delivery preferences Set your delivery zone, minimumorder value, delivery fee, maximum orders per hour, and delivery speed, or decide to outsource it to the Mercato delivery network. Go live! Your store becomes visible on themarketplace, and you can start accepting orders. Order notifications are sent based on your preferences by email, sms, fax, and/or phone. +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

Upping the In-store Technology Game in Grocery: A Do-or-Die Proposition

Alex Goodwin, Aila Technologies

“The grocery business truly is at a digital tipping point, where every aspect of the shopper’s journey will soon be influenced by digital, and increasingly enabled by digital platforms.”                                                                                     — Chris Morley, President of U.S. CPG & Retail, Nielsen, January 2017 The summer of 2017 has seen retailers making moves to add new digital capabilities at a frenzied pace. Albertsons is revamping its e-commerce systems. Publix has declared that it will offer home delivery at all locations by 2020. Kroger is piloting “digital shelf-edge” technology that it hopes will enhance efficiencies in pricing and data collection. And that’s just to name a few. Spurred by Amazon’s surprise announcement that it would acquire Whole Foods in June, grocers and mass retailers in the food and beverage space have been racing to get a leg up on the competition by investing in technology that can capture data, create enhanced customer experiences, and activate new processes such as delivery and in-store online ordering. Amazon is a real threat to existing grocery chains, but it’s not the only one: Target is expanding its commitment to food and beverage, and the nation’s biggest retailer, Walmart, is “gaining [grocery] market share at an accelerating pace.”  With so much at stake in what amounts to a technology arms race, grocers must be strategic in the experiences they craft and the processes they enable. On the other hand, an overly cautious approach may also prove costly: as digital-first consumers are increasingly influenced by technologically sophisticated industry giants, retailers who fail to act decisively risk losing hardfought market share in this ultra-competitive industry. As the grocery world braces for increasing demands for e-commerce capabilities, grocers would be well served to consider enhancing those in tandem with their in-store digital offerings.  The Online Challenge To date, online ordering only accounts for roughly 3% of grocery sales in the US, according to the Shelby Report, although that number is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. While the last-mile logistical hurdles continue to be problematic, the one big edge that e-commerce gives retailers comes in the realm of data collection.  Every digital transaction provides a wealth of sortable data about shopping habits such as purchase history and frequency. It also provides an array of opportunities for personalizing the interaction. For instance, digital platforms offer numerous options for delivering product recommendations based on past purchases or to pair with products already in the virtual shopping cart. In addition to creating a more pleasant shopping experience, these are proven ways to drive revenue: a recent Mckinsey report indicated that cross-selling can increase sales by 20% and profits by 30%. Similarly, Amazon admitted way back in 2006 that 35% of its revenues come from its cross-sales and upselling efforts. While simple apps can provide automated cross-selling capabilities online, grocers must find ways to bring these and other revenue-generating opportunities into their brick-and-mortar locations. A Seamless Buying Experience, Online and In-Store With 97% of the reported $600 billion in grocery transactions each year taking place in physical locations, it is imperative that grocers provide a seamless experience across all shopping channels. Brick-and-mortar stores must be able to deliver the same capabilities that customers are increasingly expecting when they order online — ever smoother and more efficient transactions, as well as product recommendations, loyalty rewards and discounts, and enhanced brand interactions.  The future of grocery will be built upon an in-store digital infrastructure made up of a series of connected devices capable of bringing the convenience and personalization of the digital world into the supermarket aisle. This infrastructure can solve discrete problems for consumers — wayfinding, detailed product information, line-busting, product recommendations, couponing, and more. At the same time, it will serve more broadly as a platform for innovation for retailers, to experiment with exciting new brand experiences and digital efficiencies.  The traditional, bulky, custom-built legacy hardware systems simply don’t have the versatility to keep up. Furthermore, in an industry in the midst of transformational changes, investing in expensive, single-purpose devices risks locking companies into operational workflows that might soon be obsolete. Instead, the infrastructure of the future will likely be built upon powerful consumer-oriented mobile devices. Today’s tablets and smartphones possess the features and functionality to enable solutions that solve current needs, such as in-store price checking kiosks, ordering stations, and POS systems, while also providing the hardware capabilities and flexibility to enable a nearly limitless array of future experiences and use cases.  Retail stores today must act as showroom, warehouse, and fulfillment center, providing both product and information wherever and however their customers need it. To enable this, retailers will be well suited to have the following components in place:  A digital infrastructure (from price checkers to point-of-sale terminals to associate handheld tools) that delivers a seamless digital experience throughout the store, while also tracking data for analysis and optimization of the customer experience, inventory management, store layout, product location, and more. Smart handheld devices that empower associates with full access to product information and customer needs, improving efficiency and productivity. In-store kiosks that offer a branded, user-friendly interface that will make the in-store experience as convenient as shopping online, maximizing next-gen technologies. These tools are available now, and the grocery tech race is already well underway. To maintain the status quo or move slowly is to sink into obsolescence. Bold, decisive action to infuse brick-and-mortar supermarkets with the best elements of the digital experience will be critical to surviving grocery’s ongoing transformation. +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

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