IoT

Personalized Wellness

ScriptSave® - WellRx

As a nation we spend over $5 trillion a year to feed our bodies.1 That’s the value of food sold each year in the United States through retail and food service including nearly 38,000 supermarkets, an estimated 150,000 convenience stores, and over one million restaurants. The U.S. food industry is immense, touching every person in the nation every day. We then spend trillions more each year taking care of ourselves. The U.S. healthcare industry is massive, projected to be over $5 trillion a year by 2025 and representing an estimated 20% of the country’s GDP.2 So we have two titanic industries that touch each consumer… and yet food and healthcare are largely disconnected. Plus, with 40,000+ unique products in a typical grocery store, the choices are overwhelming to the average consumer trying to shop for foods to appease any number of nutrition-sensitive health conditions. Personalized Wellness At ScriptSave, our vision of personalized wellness aligns managed care organizations, healthcare providers, employers, food manufacturers and retailers to improve and maintain the wellness of each individual. The power of the personalized wellness vision lies in the economic benefits provided to each member of this ecosystem. The personalized wellness food-health supply chain begins with the individual consumer, an understanding of his or her health condition, and food products beneficial to that condition. As the source of food, retailers become, in a sense, an extension of personalized healthcare, and a trusted partner in wellness for each individual. What better loyalty for a retailer than helping customers live healthier lives? Public Health Implications The implications from a public health perspective are enormous. 70% of Americans are on at least one prescription drug and 60% of the U.S. population is dealing with at least one chronic health condition. Our aim is to evaluate food products based on their nutritional attributes and provide insight to possible grocery alternatives that are more favorably aligned with each shopper’s personal health and wellness goals.  Our vision is no less ambitious than to improve health outcomes for millions of individuals. ScriptSave is mobilizing key participants to realize the Personalized Wellness vision. Purchase validation of beneficial products creates a powerful feedback loop Improves future recommendations Powers performance-based incentives provided by managed care organizations Helps providers drive improved outcomes Provides brand manufacturers powerful insight to shopper needs  The Rise of Artificial Intelligence It is only recently that artificial intelligence data and technologies are available to personalize, at a product level, food recommendations that are beneficial to each individual. Deconstructing nutrition information to countless data attributes enables powerful linkage between health conditions and the hundreds of thousands of food products available across the United States. What makes it all work is the ability to convey personalized food guidance to the individual via the smartphone in their hand while in the store aisle. “Food is the area consumers really want to deal with the most,” states Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, health economist for Think Health. “Nobody really wants to take medicine. People would rather project-manage health through food as prescription.”3 A recent meeting with a physician group highlighted the shortcomings of efforts to date as doctors explained patients forget nearly everything within 24 hours of leaving the office. Perhaps what is most powerful about the personalized wellness vision is that everyone across the food-healthcare supply chain benefits from improved health outcomes and quality of life for the individual. Retailers gain stronger customer relationships as they come to be viewed as true partners in wellness, and consumer goods brand manufacturers have a path to redemption from the processed foods abyss. 1 “U.S. Food Retail Industry - Statistics & Facts”, Statista, www.statista.com/topics/1660/food-retail/ 2 Mark Hagland, “Medicare Actuaries: U.S. Healthcare Spending to Soar to $5.631 Trillion and 20.1 Percent of GDP in 2025”, www.healthcare-informatics.com, (July 18, 2016) 3 Drug Store News, Future Trends: Self care, wellness shift to drive innovation in new, emerging health segments, www.drugstorenews.com, (August 18, 2017) +MORE

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

Discovering the Holy Grail of Retail: Online-Offline Convergence

Sena Zorlu, Instapio

Over the past years, retailers have been investing into digital transformation, creating online stores and making their brick and mortar locations smarter. On the startup side, there has been a massive growth of retail technology companies in multiple areas to improve operations, cut costs and bring in more customers. There’s no Magical Solution Today there are multiple solutions that claim online and offline convergence. These are mainly: Data Management Platforms that will tie online and mobile identities to retailer’s offline data (CRM, POS, Loyalty) to provide historical view. Mobile Attribution and Retargeting platforms that will understand when mobile users are in your stores and retarget them with timely and relevant information. iBeacons that will help you communicate with your app users in granular proximity. Guest WiFi that requires social login or email that can be tied to your CRM. It is very confusing for retailers to understand what solution to invest in when the common value proposition is the same: we will bring you the holy grail; we will connect online with offline. However, the main problem with all these technologies is that they are lab technologies. They work perfectly in controlled environments where every condition is met. Well if all your customers download your mobile application and they turn on their bluetooth and they open the application and they stand next to this sensor than the technology works. Retailers are promised an amazing connected world where they have full control of their customers yet when these solutions are installed, the results don’t come near what was promised. This is why there are so many POC’s but so little mass deployments of technologies. Retailers need to understand that today, technologies that promise to connect them to customers are still in preliminary stages of growth. This is because there are pre-conditions for these technologies to work and consumers rarely act the way we aspire them to.  The costs and efforts associated with having every customer download and not delete a mobile application are astronomical. Even when you bear the costs, app store discoverability is really difficult and consumers are app tired, looking for a reason to delete an app. When a technology is not adopted by the masses, your results will be skewed because of the small usage base. Any A/B testing or campaign on a small sample size will lead for wrong strategy. Another blocker with mobile technologies is the device manufacturers themselves. Mobile based technologies use sensors and features within the mobile phone which puts the retail industry at the mercy of the manufacturers. So when a manufacturer decides to turn off location collection from mobile applications, your investment into mobile attribution may sink overnight. Which retail technologies will win? To be able to understand what is going on in the store environment, retailers need better data generation than what exists today. In order to take real time responsive action the way ecommerce sites can do, retailers need access to real time, contextual data that can speak with existing systems they have. Mobile apps do not fill the void of collecting this data. Meaningful information can only be collected with sensory technologies that will passively collect data from a large sample. The first result of this trend has been in-store analytics. In-store analytics has presented a better picture of what is going on in the store and help understand the funnel that leads to purchases. The next wave of technology is to improve what we can do with this sensory data. Historical analytics is nice to have but will not magically save retailers. The next wave of retail technology will come as software layer that sits on top of sensory information and will affect all operations from merchandising, real time campaigns, personalization, staffing and everything else. So what can retailers do today? One thing we know for sure is that consumer behavior is rapidly changing and brick and mortar retailers must adapt to the changes demanded by customers. Retailers must be educating themselves with new technologies and changing consumer behavior. Big box stores have built lab environments to test new technologies, the easiest thing smaller retailers can do is to dedicate one store, preferably near their headquarters as their lab environment. They can be open to testing new technologies rapidly and choose best startups that can act with a real store rather than doing a fancy presentation or a demo. Retailers need to be in the conversation of emerging technologies. There are many technology startups like us who are working for the core problems that retailers are facing today. Whatever the retailer’s size may be, a lot of startups will be open to testing and working with them to solve specific industry problems. Small and medium sized retailers can become more innovative by becoming part of the solution. Building internal teams, dedicating test stores, working intimately with startups, having leadership teams advise retail tech startups are just some of the things retailers can start with that won’t require significant budgets. What we are working on At Instapio, we have been working on unifying different identities customers have to paint a clear picture of what is happening in the store and bring aggregated insight to help retailers. Our goal from the first day was to bring the automagical aspects of online to the physical world. It’s a big challenge and there is no one shot solution to create it. It requires collecting and merging of data from multiple assets, unifying different identities, making all the data talk in the same language and delivering it to the retailer in a format that can be used. This is why we are building an ecosystem around bringing all this sensory information together and make it available to talk to management systems in real time. We are working closely with the Advancing Retail platform, very excited to learn and help solve brick and mortar business challenges. +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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ScriptSave® WellRx

Medical Security Card Company LLC.

Discount Rx Card & Prescription Price Comparison Cost and inconvenience are the biggest reasons people don't take their prescribed medicines. ScriptSave WellRx wants to remedy that and help people enjoy better health. Start saving on your family's prescription medicines! Search for savings on prescription medicines and compare prices at pharmacies near you. With the ScriptSave® WellRx mobile app, you can find the prescription medicines your family needs at the savings you love. ScriptSave WellRx is the trusted resource that makes prescription medicines more affordable and easier to manage because ScriptSave WellRx cares about helping people stay healthy. ScriptSave WellRx is free to join. And, we're accepted nationwide at more than 62,000 pharmacies. It's easy to start saving on prescription medicines for your entire household – even pets! Simply download the ScriptSave WellRx prescription discount app to your iPhone or Android Phone, enter a drug name, and compare prices. You can open the app any time, anywhere to search for the best discount at pharmacies near you. Simply show your printed or digital prescription discount card when you go to pick up your prescription and enjoy the best possible deals on your medications. +MORE

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Grab and Go Automated Commerce

Accel Robotics

We are building a ‘Grab and Go’ vision-based automated shopping system. Think about this like an Amazon Go solution for everyone else. +MORE

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fract™

Fract

We provide actionable prescriptive geospatial intelligence to businesses and help them make all the right choices based on their data.  Fract is inspired by fractals – countless geometric figures that have the exact same characteristics as the whole. Fractals can be found everywhere in nature – snowflakes, clouds and even our own hearts – and are used to describe various complex, recurring natural events like crystal growth and galaxy formation. We predict and help businesses to maximize their potential based on the tiny patterns found inside the data. We believe in continuous data analysis and uncovering patterns to make use of the infinite amounts of data that increases every single hour, of every single day. +MORE

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Automation and Personalization of the Retail Store

Instapio Inc.

Instapio allows chain retailers to gain control of their business and automate customer experience standards. By using Instapio, retailers create seamless and intuitive locations that are responsive to the presence and habits of their customers.  The solution will operate as a decision making engine for each store and across the chain to measure millions of data points in real time, make decisions based on business priorities and optimize operations. Imagine a super store manager that oversees the everyday operations of all stores. +MORE

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DART Displays

DART Displays

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

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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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LISNR Smart Tones

LISNR

LISNR Smart Tones inaudibly transmit data from any speaker to any microphone using a secure data-over-audio communication protocol.  Leveraging the speaker system you already have installed, LISNR Smart Tones can deliver content, information, and incentives to your shopper based on their current location and previous activity in your store.  With over 80% of shoppers using their smartphone to assist them during their in-store experience, LISNR Smart Tones provide a seamless and efficient connection between the physical and digital environment. +MORE

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​SmartAisle and The Rise of Voice-Powered Retail

Ethan Goodman, Co-Founder, SmartAisle

There are three converging retailer pain points and dynamics that have created a compelling and important market opportunity:  First, there’s an historic labor shortage in the US – for the first time ever, there are more job openings than people to fill them, and this is undoubtedly impacting retailers’ ability to put high quality workers on the floor to interact with shoppers.  Second, The “Amazon Effect” is putting intense pressure on brick & mortar retailers to deliver a user experience that meets or exceeds that of E-Commerce – for example, better personalization – or risk losing trips and sales to Amazon and other pure plays.  And third, shoppers are indicating that they are increasingly open to engaging with voice-based virtual assistants in the in-store environment in favor of summoning a human sales associates – 52%, in fact, according to a recent report from AdWeek. So, we created an innovative new solution to help retailers address these challenges head-on. Meet SmartAisle, the world’s first voice-powered in-store shopping assistant.  SmartAisle brings the power and simplicity of voice technology to brick & mortar retail stores in a completely unique and ground-breaking way.  Specifically, it is a patent-pending technology platform that combines an intuitive voice interface, connected LED lights embedded on the shelf and a powerful artificial intelligence engine on the back-end to help shoppers with product selection and education at the First Moment of Truth.  It’s incredibly easy for shoppers to use:  First, shoppers see a call-to-action on at-shelf signage with a prompt for what to say to initiate the voice assistant – for example, “Alexa, open SmartAisle.”   Next, they answer a series of simple questions audibly about their product selection criteria – for example, in whiskey, their desired type (bourbon, rye or scotch) and a target price range (like, under $50).  And finally, our algorithm selects up to 3 recommended products; reads out the product names, descriptions and other relevant information (like ratings & reviews); and lights their position on the shelf for easy identification.   Beyond providing an undeniably cool & novel experience to shoppers, the value our platform can deliver to retailers, as I insinuated at the beginning, is significant. SmartAisle can do everything from enhance at-shelf navigation, selection and education to help close the sale; to capture and report incredibly valuable data about shoppers’ at-shelf behaviors and interactions, and allow retailers to optimize their staffing decisions – not necessarily replace human associates, but rather augment their capabilities and allow them to focus on other key tasks And we think SmartAisle does these things better than any available competitive options today, bet it:   Store associates, who in most cases have limited product knowledge, and whom shoppers sometimes avoid because they’re seeking discretion or don’t want to be “sold.”  Be it traditional at-shelf signage, which can only deliver static content and can’t capture shopper engagement data.  Or be it mobile apps, websites or bots, which require shoppers to have necessary hardware, software or browsers, and a reliable internet connection, and whose screen-based experiences can create barriers to speed.  At this point I’m sure you have all sorts of questions. Here’s my best effort to address the ones most frequently asked by clients and prospects alike:  Do I have to use Amazon Alexa as the underlying AI platform? No. SmartAisleSM is platform-agnostic, and can be built using other comparable AI like Google Assistant.  Has it been executed in a live store environment? Yes. We successfully ran a 2-month test with a boutique wine & spirts store in New York City, and just signed a contract for a 5-store test with a national liquor store retailer on the West Coast (set to launch this December).  How does it perform? Very well. During our 2-month test, SmartAisleSM drove a 20% YOY category lift for our client, and shoppers told us it provided an experience that was “noticeably better”, “easier to use” and “more entertaining” than normal.   Does it only work for Alcohol/Beverage? No. SmartAisleSM is perfect for any retailer aiming to elevate the in-store shopping experience, particularly those in heavy-assortment, high-consideration and/or premium-priced categories like Beauty/Cosmetics, Electronics, Fresh & packaged Grocery, Health & Wellness, Home Hardware, Pet Care and Fashion/Apparel.   How complex is it to execute? Not very. A typical engagement takes 3 months to launch from contract signature to go-live, we handle the installation and all needed maintenance, and the only infrastructure requirement of clients is accessible power. How is it priced? For the time being, pricing is still determined on a case by case basis. But we’re planning to implement a standard per store, per month model in the coming months.   Our vision is to be the world’s biggest, best and most indispensable network of digital in-store shopping assistants – installed in tens of thousands of stores, serving tens of millions of shoppers, and generating millions of dollars in incremental sales for our clients – and we hope you’ll join us on that journey. For more information, visit www.smartaisle.io or email help@smartaisle.io. +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

Increasing Supply Chain Efficiency through IoT Solutions

Rae Steinbach

The Internet of Things is a rapidly growing network,expected to r​oughly double​ from 2015 to 2020. It’s connecting a vast new variety of devices including everything from cars to refrigerators. While many are aware of the opportunities it provides to consumers thanks to things like o​n-demand app development,​ there’s less knowledge of its impact on the supply chain. In essence, the supply chain is the path each product takes on its way from being initially produced to finally being purchased and used. 9​4% of supply chain leaders​ anticipate that digital solutions will impact how the supply chain works in 2018, and with such a wide range of new technologies, it’s easy to see why. These are some of the most important ways IoT solutions are affecting the supply chain. Identifying and Responding to Maintenance Issues Using the IoT Having an effective control of the supply chain is s​trongly correlated with success,​ and the Internet of Things offers businesses new opportunities to monitor and control their inventory. Maintenance problems in just one area of the supply chain can cause substantial inefficiencies in others, underscoring the need for an immediate response.  IoT solutions are capable of updating companies on the condition of individual parts, allowing managers to anticipate and address failures before they happen. Preemptively fixing maintenance issues reduces or eliminates the downtime required and helps keep small problems from becoming much more severe. IoT Solutions to Improve Quality Control Just as monitoring item condition allows businesses to more efficiently respond to maintenance-related problems, it can also provide them updates as a product is shipped to retailers or an end user. The Internet of Things sends updates much more quickly and reliably than more traditional methods of quality control. In addition to saving companies substantial amounts of money, it also gives them an opportunity to promote a personal relationship with the customer. Reducing the likelihood of issues with a product or its shipment, along with being able to provide instant notifications, makes the process much easier and more dependable for consumers. Leveraging the Internet of Things for Branding As a higher percentage of customers become aware of and start making decisions based on social issues, it’s becoming more and more important for businesses to take a stand on the positions they believe in. The IoT allows users to monitor the progress of an item through the supply chain, which in turn lets companies advertise their items as socially conscious. While most consumers are principally aware of the possibilities the Internet of Things opens up for end users and in homes, they typically know far less about what it’s already doing in the supply chain. These are just a few of the many ways in which the IoT is improving supply chain efficiency and reliability. There are sure to be countless more examples in the next few years. +MORE

Caper

Caper Labs Inc.

AI Powered Retail -Checkout made easy. Just toss it in, and leave. With our next generation smart self-checkout cart, powered by deep learning & computer vision, items are instantly detected as they enter the cart. Customers can just toss the items in & leave the store.  Scan Scan the item as you add merchandise into the shopping cart. No app download required.  Pay Once you're done shopping, directly pay on the cart with your credit card.  Scan Scan the item as you add merchandise into the shopping cart. No app download required. Bag & Go Directly bag your items, skip the cashiers and be on your way! +MORE

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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

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

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

Solving Out-of-Stocks for Retail Grocery

Donald Oelke, Popspots, COO

The grocery industry struggles to manage out-of-stocks and planogram compliance. Popspots is using in-store hardware with AI to solve this $26 billion problem. Since its inception, the retail industry has struggled to manage out-of-stocks and planogram compliance. This problem is especially pronounced in grocery, where high customer throughput and tight margins make it difficult to dedicate resources to product management. It’s estimated that this lack of oversight costs retailers over $26 billion a year in the US alone. There are dozens of companies trying to address the out-of-stock problem, but their solutions are either too expensive or impractical. At Popspots, we’ve made it our mission to provide these services at an economical price point, and we’re starting at the checkout. Checkout aisle sales may seem insignificant, but the checkout is the only department that every customer passes through, with yearly spend topping $6.5 billion in the US. The products at checkout also have, on average, 52% higher margins than other grocery products. US grocers lose an estimated  $400 million per year in the checkout aisles due to out-of-stocks alone. Our flagship product, the Popspot device, is an internet enabled smart-display that sits on top of each checkstand merchandiser. Every device has embedded sensors and processors that allow us to prevent out-of-stocks, ensure planogram compliance, and reduce dated products. Here’s how our product works: Our devices take pictures of the checkstand planograms Those images are processed by AI algorithms on our server Out-of-stock or planogram issues are compiled into a report and sent to the store manager Our system follows up automatically to confirm that the issues are resolved We also give retailers access to an online dashboard that they use to monitor their stores, track improvement over time, and identify top and bottom performers. The grocers that are adopting Popspots are seeing incredible results. The improvement in out-of-stocks is almost immediate, and for every 10% reduction in out-of-stocks, we’ve seen sales increase by 3%. For one grocer with a 19% out-of-stock rate, we reduced the number of issues by 50% in the first month alone! When we first introduce our product to retailers,they often ask why they need this technology. “The store managers can already see the checkout aisle,” the retailers say, “so why do we need a system that tells us something they can already see?” In short, they can’t. Store managers and employees are constantly bombarded with other tasks, and almost never have the attention necessary to individually examine each planogram. And even if they did, the overhead cost of such a practice would be cost-prohibitive. Popspots is able to provide this service economically by using artificial intelligence to drastically improve identification times and reduce employee involvement. Although we’re starting in the checkout aisle, we designed our technology so that it can analyze images of any product in the store. This capability allows us to expand our system to the rest of store over time and address the $26 billion lost every year in grocery. Popspots launched last fall and we’re already in hundreds of stores across the country. We serve big and small grocers alike, and over the next six months we’ll be serving hundreds more. Retailers have confronted this age-old problem for too long, and we’re thrilled to be leading the charge towards a technology-driven solution. If you’re interested in learning more about Popspots, please reach out to me directly at donald@getpopspots.com. I look forward to hearing from you +MORE

Popspots

Popspots

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

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SmartAisle

SmartAisle

SmartAisle℠ is the world’s first Voice-powered retail shopping assistant. It is an innovative new technology platform designed specifically to revolutionize the customer experience in brick & mortar retail stores. Through a combination of an intuitive Voice interface, connected LED lights affixed to the shelf and a powerful artificial intelligence engine working behind the scenes, it provides expert product recommendations, education and support to shoppers at the all-important point of decision. +MORE

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IoT Technology Tackling FSMA Regulations

Naeem Zafar, TeleSense

2017 is bringing new requirements to cold chain monitoring and food safety as the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) regulation deadlines approach, requiring the food industry to keep better records of their operations. With the help of Industrial Internet of Things hardware and user-friendly software, businesses can easily implement compliance in preparation of audits. What is Required to be Compliant Depending on the size of your business, the new regulations will become law over the next two years. FSMA mandates rigid plans for monitoring food products and taking corrective actions. By law, every registered food operation in a variety of industries, including meat, poultry, seafood, and produce, must perform a hazard analysis of their facilities and distribution assets to (1) Identify areas that can potentially jeopardize food safety, and (2) Determine what preventive controls to systematically implement and scientifically measure to monitor regulated food products. How does this translate to action? Food businesses need to keep temperature and/or humidity records up to 2 years back to prove that they were operating within the correct temperature range. This includes food in-storage and in-transit. Moreover, such records need to be easily retrievable upon the request of an inspector during an audit. At a glance, it may seem like a big hassle to get an entire business up to compliance, but with the help of modern technology, an operator’s job can become easier than it was before the FSMA was ever implemented. Bridging FSMA and IoT: By incorporating new web-based software with wireless sensors, a food processor or distributor can manage both the FSMA regulations and gain better insight into its operations. No more clipboards and manual time recording! There are many plug-and-play sensors that can be installed within 30 minutes. They usually come with a software subscription that allows facility managers to: Monitor facility and equipment health Determine critical control points Establish critical limits and alerts Dispatch immediate corrective action Automate record keeping and report generation Keep record database in the cloud for easy retrieval Insure facility with backup system Within the past year, many options have popped up within IoT for monitoring food. However, more does not necessarily mean better – more variety means confusion and frustration when sensor and software shopping. Hardware solutions range from Bluetooth sensors, industrial thermocouples, wired sensors, RFID labels, USB data loggers, cellular gateways, WiFi gateways, and the list goes on. The right sensor to purchase is dependent on which operational process one focuses on. The sensor chosen must withstand the working conditions of the facility for it to last. Most importantly, getting good communication between the sensor and gateway is dependent on the layout of the facility and sensor placement. Sometimes, the sensor of preference does not provide optimal connectivity. Without proper research, thousands of dollars can be waste on a solution that just does not fit. Bottom line – speak with an expert before diving in. Many IoT companies provide free consultations or 1-month free trials, which are all meant to make regulatory compliance as hassle-free of an experience as possible. +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

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

NRF 2018: Tech-Fueled Innovation in Retail -- The Future is Here

CART

Thoughts on NRF 2018… So I just returned from a jam-packed three days at the NRF Show in New York city. I’ve attended NRF for a number of years now and was struck by how big and how busy the show was this year. The attendance on Sunday and Tuesday was strong but the number of people at the show and on the exhibit floors on Monday was just mind-blowing. It may have been the busiest single day that I’ve seen. Many international retailers were there along with the usual extensive array of retailers across many verticals from the US. My feeling is that a growing number of retailers understand the importance of innovation to their businesses and that is a key driver for the activity at the show. Some years there is a common thread that seems to run across many of the exhibitors. This year that ‘link’ was artificial intelligence - everyone was talking about AI and how it was part of their solutions. While some of this is real, AI has quickly become the latest buzzword and is already overused. AI is no longer (nor was it ever) it’s own thing but rather AI technology is being incorporated into a fast growing number of solutions and applications, powering more effective capabilities. Robots were out in force with several robotics companies represented. Marketing personalization was well represented along with many other areas. The main exhibit floor is packed each year with the big established solution providers like Microsoft, Intel, Oracle, NCR, Toshiba, and many others. The NRF Show gets more interesting on the lower level exhibit floor where smaller (sometimes younger) companies are exhibiting and that’s where you can find more innovation. And then there was Retail 20/20 where young innovative solutions were showcased. This area drew a lot of attention. I think more than anything the NRF Show this year represented the diversity of tech-fueled innovation that is coming into the retail industry and the challenge for retailers to try and keep up with new innovation. Here are a few of the cool technologies CART tweeted about: Inventory Scan Complete!  #NAVii Optimizing your inventory with #Robotics  Discover consistent accurate & never-before-seen insights of your inventory   Fellow Robotics  How cool is this? It’s magical @perchexperience physically-aware displays sense when shoppers approach, touch and pick up products and responds with dynamic media  Perch Interactive @kroger #EDGE #Smart Shelf interacts w/shoppers using Kroger mobile app & can detect their location in the aisles, offer tailored promotions based on purchasing habits & highlight items on their #grocery lists as they pass by Edge - Edgewater Wireless Exciting news! Facebook and RetailNext Collaborate to Provide Greater Insight into Store Shoppers  RetailNext It’s really cool how @Integem_Inc Holographic #AugmentedReality system intelligently recognizes people and body movements, then immerses them into a virtual world in real-time. Integem Inc. @LocusRobotics innovative autonomous mobile robots make it easy to optimize your warehouse operation, respond to #ecommerce volume growth & seasonal peaks while giving you control over your labor costs Locus Robotics See @RenttheRunway’s Senior Director of Engineering demo how RTR uses Aila’s Interactive Kiosk to streamline in-store operations and create better customer experiences via @AilaTech Aila Technologies @Mike_Mack CEO & Fract co-founder @NRFBigShow Enhance #CustomerExperience with @fractInc Fract is winner of CART’s May 2017 #PitchEvent Fract helps #Businesses increase market share of their locations with a geospatial #AI platform fract™  @BNRobotics drives autonomously through aisles doing “basic stuff” -like taking care of tedious shelf-auditing tasks- allowing employees to focus on more important things Bossa Nova Robotics +MORE

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