Email & online

3 Ways Shopping Has Changed and How Grocers Can Adapt

Shawn Tuckett, VP of Sales and Client Service, Webstop

With your employees, your customers, and your bottom line all demanding your attention, innovation may not always be on the top of the priority list. Sure, there’s no doubt you are strategizing how to best meet the needs of your shoppers, from operations to customer service, but here’s the elephant in the room that you may not be addressing: The industry is changing and your competition is already adapting, are you keeping up? Here are 3 ways shopping habits have changed, how the industry is innovating, and steps you can take to adapt to emerging trends. #1: PLANS HAVE CHANGED Can you name a more iconic combination than shopping and the shopping list? Whether it is a scribble on a scrap paper or a fully categorized list of essentials, for decades “the list” has been the primary tool of your shoppers and getting on that list has been pivotal to lasting success. In an increasingly digital age, the traditional list is changing. Yes, shoppers are still using physical lists, but today’s consumer is much more likely to have a smartphone on them than a pen and paper. One study found that the typical cell phone user touches his or her phone 2,617 time every day with heavy users exceeding 5,400 touches. Even without reading the statistics there’s no doubt you are seeing it across your stores – Moms scrolling Facebook in the cereal aisle, millennials snapchatting a selfie in front of the live lobster tank, dads nervously sending photos to moms to make sure they are supposed to get baking powder and not baking soda. How would it change your bottom line if even just a fraction of those touches included accessing your digital shopping list? That way you don’t need to hope you get ON the list, you can BE the list. #2: THE MARKET HAS CHANGED The emergence of home delivery, store pickup, mobile pay and checkout-free experiences have all affected the expectations of consumers in the market. With competition and options increasing and attention spans decreasing, it is more important than ever to create ways to anticipate your shoppers’ needs. It may come as a surprise to you, but the next generation of customers still wants to know that their local corner grocer cares about them. Posting a weekly ad PDF to your website is no longer going to cut it in this ever-changing world. Connecting with shoppers in today’s age may not look how it did 30 years ago but don’t be fooled, digital connections are an absolute necessity in today’s competitive environment. #3: TIMES HAVE CHANGED Life seems to be moving faster than ever and if you’re feeling like there’s too much “to-do” at the end of your business day, you can guarantee your shoppers are feeling the same. Face it, the “regularly scheduled shopping trip” is not how younger generations shop. Now, consumers are squeezing in quick trips in tight windows – on their commute home, in between other errands, always on the way to or from the next obligation. Millennial moms are already actively trending towards using beacon-enabled shopping apps providing important reminders to take care of the grocery shopping when they leave the house, drive by a set destination, or during a set time of day. And that’s just the straightforward use of beacons. Your competitors may have even tagged your stores’ physical locations so that they can message your shoppers every time they drive by your store in hopes of luring them away and into their store instead. Sound over the top, it’s not, it’s what is happening now. CONCLUSION In order to be the location of choice for current and future shopping needs, you have to be ready, available, and accessible whenever and wherever shoppers are. Do your digital marketing features measure up to the other retailers your shoppers have access to? If not, what is holding you back from upgrading your digital suite? Change is inevitable. But it doesn’t have to be scary. Webstop has helped over 3,000 stores upgrade their digital features to compete for today’s shoppers. How can we help you gain more shoppers? +MORE

The Shaky but Awesome Future of Retail

Shekar Raman, Birdzi

We live in exciting times. The pace of progress in technology far outstrips the pace at which we are coming up with ideas of its applications. Hence the endless stream of exciting startups that come up with new and innovative ways of applying the technology and changing the way we live our lives. Exciting times indeed. There are however a few things that seem to take forever to change and are at contrast to everything else that is happening. Take for instance the retail industry—arguably one of the oldest and most established industries. For years, things have been done a certain way, and the adage ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ seems to be a recurring theme in this sector. Innovation meets inertia, and the result is often slow, sluggish progress. But as Dylan said, ‘the times, they are a changin’ . The technology innovation and competition to traditional brick-and-mortar is forcing traditional retailers and even supermarkets to sit up and take notice and start thinking about changing the way we have thought of retail. In particular focus is the astronomical adoption of the smartphone. In eight short years since the first iPhone was released by Apple (some people may argue that smartphones existed before that, but let’s not go there for now), 80% or more of the phones sold in the market are smartphones. More importantly ‘connected’ phones. Last year, mobile overtook desktop as the #1 way to access the Internet. Retailers have started to realize both the power that is in the hands of the consumer to research before they buy, and their own ability to reach the customer proactively with personalized recommendations.  In the mid to late nineties as the reach of the internet exploded and e-commerce seemed to be engulfing the world, the birth of Amazon, eBay, buy.com, and countless other imitators, seemed to suggest that brick-and-mortar is dead. Now, almost 20 years later, brick-and-mortar retail still accounts for more than 95% of retail sales. Long live ‘the store’! Humans are social animals, and as much as the convenience of online shopping is enticing, our very nature thirsts for interaction and exploration. So what does all this mean? There is not a minute in our daily lives that we are separated from our personal devices (looking at my kids, it seems like a minute is a long time to be separated from the phone!). This presents a huge opportunity for retailers to stay connected with customers in ways never before thought possible. However, it is only those retailers who can figure out how to keep the interaction personalized and subtle that will win the race to being effective retailers of the future.  Dealing with promotional emails from e-commerce sites or retailers has become a job in itself, and people setup email accounts just to manage that. Clearly, mass promotion is at best annoying, and given the pace of our lives, hardly effective. It seems so 2000s. The future is about personalization. Its about, ‘just let me know of things relevant to me’ at the right time and place. Doing this was unimaginable a decade ago. Only a good friend could judge your mood, intent and based on their intimate knowledge of your personality say the right words. Just imagine your local supermarket doing that with your shopping needs. Understanding your personal preferences, shopping cycle, intent and budget and suggesting (and notifying) items you may be interested in. Not in an obscene, ‘in your face’ way, but in a ‘friendly’ manner, with your best interests in focus. With the advent of big data platforms and cloud technology, processing massive amounts of data in short order and deriving insights into individual shopping behavior and then proactively suggesting products and services is now a reality. There are several exciting startups that promise just that. So what’s the hold up, why aren’t retailers flocking to this trend, or wait.. can they? If there is one obstacle that stands between most traditional brick-and-mortar stores and the future, its data. The quality of data that most retailers have on their legacy systems simply does not lend itself to the emerging platforms. We are talking about abbreviated, truncated, misspelled, crude, and just plain poor quality data. All our big data platforms, machine learning, artificial intelligence, deep learning platforms require one thing. Good clean data to learn from. Retailers who can address this fundamental issue and bring about change in how they handle and store data will put themselves in a position to own the future and offer a level of personalization that consumers will come to expect in the future. Amazon recently announced that they are planning to open up about 2,000 stores nationwide. With the quality of data they hold, I would be surprised if they don’t become a major brick-and-mortar presence, threatening even the most established players. If traditional stores don’t make fundamental changes and pay more attention to how data is collected and stored, they stand to see the ground slipping away under their feet, while trying to figure out how to hold on to their customers. The future of shopping is closer than you think, especially if you have good clean data! +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

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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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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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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Crowdsourced Picking&Delivery for eCommerce

ReadyCart.co

(2)

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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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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Darius™ for Retail

Darius Technologies

Darius for Retail is a fully integrated, cloud based shopper engagement platform. Darius delivers proven and measurable return on investment, by allowing retailers to put their shoppers at the center of everything and making it easy to engage and influence them pre-store, in-store, and post-store. Darius allows retailers to design, manage, develop and, measure interactions with their customers throughout the entire shopper journey.  The ‘tech’ bit: Darius™ is a modular ‘ecosystem’ retail technology platform that is designed to integrate and allow interaction with any existing retail systems and solutions such as Beacons, WiFi, dynamic shelf illumination, or e-coupons, and so on, to make continuous engagement with shoppers possible, wherever they are on the path to purchase. The customer experience bit: Darius™ allows retailers to put their shoppers at the center of everything by making it easy to engage and influence them pre-store, in-store, and post-store. The business bit: Darius™ delivers proven and measurable return on investment. That means more shoppers in-store, more often. It means attracting new and hard to engage shopper types. And it means bigger baskets and the increased spends that comes with that. It makes marketing budgets and, where they may already exist, retail tech investments work so much harder. +MORE

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Managed Online Grocery Solution

My Cloud Grocer

(5)

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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Personalized Shopper Engagement Suite

Birdzi Inc.

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Birdzi’s Personalized Shopper Engagement Suite is made up of the following components: Personalization Engine - Proprietary algorithms track individual shopper profiles & behavior and score offers & content for each shopper based on objectives Digital Touchpoints - Connect with your shoppers through your own branded mobile app, web and email In-store Engagement - Empower your shoppers to search and locate items in-store and receive relevant offers in the aisle through beacons Offer Management and Analytics - Build and manage offers and track performance in real-time To find out more click here. +MORE

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Shopper Media Network

PlaceWise Media

(1)

With the rapid rise of digital and mobile technologies, the shift of power to consumers has forever changed how advertisers, retailers and brands get their messages across. Bringing them all together through its proprietary digital platform is the charge of PlaceWise Media, one of the largest shopper media networks in the U.S. PlaceWise’s shopper media network includes more than 1,400 grocery retailers and nearly 700 shopping and lifestyle centers, with more than 10 million total monthly visitors. Through its unique, first-party data, PlaceWise can extend beyond its network in real time to reach millions of other relevant shoppers. The company also provides digital marketing services to hundreds of malls and lifestyle centers across North America.  Shopper access; shopper insight; real time. PlaceWise Media’s network allows brands to offer shoppers engaging content and special offers along the path to purchase, delivering on its promise to them to reach “Just who you want. Right when they are ready®”. +MORE

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Grocery Websites & Digital Marketing Solutions

Webstop

Multi-Retailer Website System: Independent retailers need a website that engages consumers, saving time and money.  The problem is that until now, only chains could afford web features that consumers value.  With few other options, many independents have a low cost website with little ongoing value for digitally active consumers.    Wholesalers now have the opportunity to provide a state-of-the-art website at an affordable price to hundreds of retailers via Webstop's Multi-Retailer Website system.  Independents can gain the advanced interactive features that consumers love at great economies of scale.  Each store or retailer can have their own complete, full featured website, branded and personalized for their consumers.    The features include fully interactive digital circulars, interactive shopping lists, over 5,000 integrated recipes, store locatore with Google Maps integration, integrated email campaigns with pre-built layouts, custom web pages built by each store and a full-featured mobile website. Mobile App Integrated with Retailer Website: Webstop's Mobile App offering provides retailers of any size an affordable mobile solution to compete effectively for consumer marketing success.  The Mobile App includes advanced interactive weekly ads, thousands of recipes, personalized shopping lists, store locator with Google Maps integration, integration with personal digital coupons and more.  Custom retailer content can be included via easy, low cost, web-based integration. The app is provided for the latest iPhone and Android smartphones.  With Single Login features, the Mobile App allows consumers to login with the same id they use for the retailer's website.  Data is synched automatically with the consumer's web-based shopping list, for ease of use and flexibility. Fully customized services are available for advanced integration with third parties via API technology, such as paperless coupon integrators, RX refills, targeted content and more. Paperless Coupon - Advanced Integration: In addition to providing a set of coupon gallery pages, Webstop dynamically integrates coupons on the highest traffic web and mobile pages.  With our Single Login features, consumers don't have to sign-up separately for coupons, weekly ad preferences, email newsletter opt-in. When consumers clip a coupon, it's not only added to their card or online account, it's also inserted in their shopping list, organized by department and included with all other list selections.  The list is printable and included in the retailer's mobile app automatically. Coupons are dynamically presented next to the weekly ad items on sale today at the consumer's preferred store, and recipes include coupons that save money on the ingredients list for savings and convenience. This results in two significant benefits - the easiest consumer experience in accessing coupon savings plus an additional 15 - 20% higher level of coupon clipping compared to the majority of retailers using other services.  +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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The Key to Driving Online Grocery Adoption

Sylvain Perrier, President and CEO, Mercatus

Online grocery sales are predicted to capture 20 percent of total grocery retail by 2025 to reach $100 billion in consumer sales, according to a study by the Food Marketing Institute and conducted by Nielsen. E-commerce grocery options are certainly expanding as major players like Amazon.com, Walmart, Kroger and more introduce new initiatives that move the needle towards greater customer adoption. However, many retailers may still be concerned about how to drive adoption, especially with these enterprise brands trying to corner the market. The key lies in specific personalization tactics throughout the e-commerce grocery experience. These tactics include a calculated combination of omnichannel excellence, data-powered personalization, and wider fulfillment options to convince shoppers online grocery is as effective and attractive as traditional brick-and-mortar. Omnichannel Excellence While e-commerce offers retailers unique personalization opportunities not awarded by the physical store, e-commerce on its own will not turn business. An integrated online and offline strategy is necessary to ensure that the customer is relevant in every aspect of the grocery experience. To create an on-brand multichannel experience, grocers must leverage their digital assets to synchronize physical and digital customer experiences by using consistent imagery, language and tone across all promotional and sales channels. This, coupled with honoring all promotions and coupons offered in-store, will enable grocers to go beyond sporadically selling products in various channels and build a multifaceted customer relationship that develops across the entire shopping journey. A complete online selection is also essential to avoid shopper abandonment and frustration. Complete in-store inventory should be offered online and, if anything, the ability to shop online should provide new possibilities to expand the range of items available for sale, creating an endless aisle; upsell and cross-sell opportunities; and attracting more shoppers. Data-Powered Personalization Shoppers expect retailers to demonstrate a deeper level of brand–customer engagement that takes their personal wants and needs into account. This requires a depth of understanding of individual attitudes, affinities, motivations, behaviors and patterns that’s derived from customer data collected in real time and connected to a platform that makes dynamic assessment and analysis possible at scale. The good news for today’s retailers is that, according to Salesforce, consumers are more willing than ever before to provide personal information if it leads to a more personalized and relevant buyer journey. Better Fulfillment and Delivery Options Grocers must implement a unified e-commerce fulfillment process that encompasses all products and services offered in-store, with added convenience to customers and the store associates assisting them. Failure to do so results in disappointing shopper experiences, online ordering hesitation and, inevitably, lost sales. It’s clear that shoppers will streamline purchases through e-commerce sites that offer the best possible delivery options. Today, this means enhanced delivery and click-and-collect options to create the most convenient experience for every customer. But it’s not enough to focus on delivery speed; you also need to ensure the sustainability and scalability of your fulfillment processes. Addressing certain customer pain points surrounding fulfillment will greatly increase shoppers’ appreciation of online options. The inability to choose and change delivery times to meet shoppers’ needs is one that ranks high. The same is true for changing orders — i.e., adding or deleting items — in progress or nearing delivery. To customers used to ordering, changing and purchasing items at the touch of a button on other e-commerce sites, difficulties in making what feels to shoppers like minor changes can be frustrating. As online grocery becomes more prevalent, it’s essential for grocers to take calculated, forward-thinking steps in order to drive adoption rates. A failure to do so will threaten the future of a grocer’s business as the industry continues to evolve with enhanced omnichannel experiences and fulfillment options. This article originally appeared in Total Retail and can be viewed here.   +MORE

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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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

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

Making Online Grocery Easy and Affordable for Every Grocer

Josh Ray, ShopHero

The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Neilson published a study in January 2017 on the growth and future of online grocery. Among other things, they forecasted that nearly 20% of annual grocery sales would occur online by the year 2023. That was a very bold prediction about a developing part of the industry that many retailers weren’t sure about. Many I spoke with around that time had mixed feelings about online grocery.  “We tried it in the 90s and it was a big failure!” It’s true online grocery failed in the 90s. That was a long time ago and so much has changed since then. It may be tough to remember life without everyone’s favorite addiction – their smartphones – but believe it or not, there was a time when you couldn’t access everything in the world at a moment’s notice. Technology has changed the way we buy everything, and grocery is just starting to catch up. Online grocery is growing faster than anyone imagined. Amazon spent $14B acquiring Whole Foods, instantly gaining 400 distribution centers around the country from which to provide same-day delivery of grocery (including perishables). Walmart and Kroger offer online ordering in over 1,000 locations each, with plans to double the number of locations offering the service in 2018.  We’ve been working with grocers for years and watching the changes happen right before our eyes. Three or four years ago, there was a single workshop on eCommerce at the NGA show in Las Vegas. This year, there was an entire track dedicated to technology with a major emphasis on online grocery. This January, FMI and Neilson published a new study forecasting 20% of annual grocery sales to be online by 2022. In one year they saw enough growth, customer demand, and technology improvements to speed up their projections from 2023 to 2022!  Hometown grocers face more competition than ever, but they also have more opportunities to distinguish themselves from the big box stores today. Their size allows them to be more nimble and provide an eCommerce experience tailored to their community and their shoppers. The level of service they provide has always been better than the national retailers and with the right tools they can ensure their shoppers get the same great experience online that they expect in store. ShopHero is proud to work with 100’s of these hometown grocers across the country, helping them offer online ordering. ShopHero provides a while-label eCommerce site that is customized for each individual retailer. Grocers are often surprised at how easy it is to get setup with ShopHero. We work with every point of sale (POS) system, loyalty program, and wholesaler. We’ve done all the heavy lifting so the retailers don’t have to, which means stores can get online in one day. We provide images, product descriptions, nutrition facts and more for everything in the store. Our unique approach allows the store to focus on what they do best – serving their customers – while we take care of the rest. Just getting online isn’t good enough. Retailers need a true partner who understands the importance of providing world class service on every transaction. We are proud of our reputation in the industry as the best option for grocers who want to be online. We’ve built that reputation on a few key tenants – service, technology, and price. Service We truly understand the important of customer service and don’t just talk the talk, but we walk the walk. We provide live shopper support that your customers can access via email, phone, or chat. This means we are on the front lines with you. We hear the questions, comments, and concerns your shoppers have, and we make adjustments accordingly. ShopHero is the only online grocery vendor to offer this service. Technology We’ve made our technology as simple as possible, so that every grocer (even your grumpy uncle) can easily work with it. We really do all of the work to get you setup, you don’t have to worry about anything. We provide a store rep to work with you on training, support, and more – and he is available 24/7 to answer all your questions. Price We know many retailers can’t afford large setup fees and even larger monthly fees. Online grocery shouldn’t be expensive, it should be easy and affordable. ShopHero provides the industries only eCommerce plan with no monthly or annual fees. Really. No catch, no hidden costs. We value our partnerships and have structured our service in a way to show that. If you own a grocery store and you’re not online yet, we need to talk. If you’re online, but you’re paying too much or not getting the results you should, give us a call. I would love to hear about your store as well as your concerns and goals with online grocery. Our online grocery specialists work with retailers everyday. They understand the challenges and concerns you have and are happy to provide a complimentary consultation. +MORE

Us vs Amazon

Chris Cialone, Cloud Union

Amazon has forever changed the landscape of retail. Good for them. Bezos and his team identified, and then met, consumer needs; invested in innovation; positioned themselves as low price operators; and fearlessly adopted new concepts. Now it is your time. As independent grocers, you know better than anyone else what it is like to go up against the big boys. And you haven’t survived this long by trying to become just like them, you have survived by playing to your strengths. As the world has changed and as your customers’ shopping behavior changed, you’ve kept pace – you’ve remodeled and updated your stores, you’ve introduced new products and eliminated others, you’ve gone digital with your circulars and emailed out weekly specials. Now it’s time to bring your loyalty program into the new reality. And it’s your loyalty program that provides you with an extremely valuable asset against the competitive threat poised by Amazon. Why is your loyalty program important? Because adding value to the shopping experience, instead of lower price is the way the independents win. And launching or switching to the next generation of loyalty programs, just as you occasionally remodel your stores, is necessary to keep pace with changes in your current and future customer’s needs and wants. Be 100% digital. Physical loyalty cards and keytags are expensive and out-dated.  Be mobile-first. Your customers live on their mobile phones, be there with them. Be global. Bring your local products to a global audience. Be part of a coalition. Amazon is one place to shop that is comprised of hundreds of merchants and millions of products and services. Be part of a larger coalition allowing your customers to earn and redeem rewards at many places. Be in the home. Take advantage voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant services from companies like Amazon, Google and Apple. Imagine asking: “Hey Alexa, what is my store’s rewards points total?” or “Hey Google Assist, can I earn points when I buy items in the produce department?” or “What aisle are Q-tips in?” Be part of Cloud Union. It’s how you get all this done. Independent grocers, equipped with the innovative new rewards program, can now compete on a whole new level, and at very little cost. +MORE

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