Mobile apps

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

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

Whatever the Question, A.I. is the Answer Because Nobody Likes Calling Customer Service

Susan Galer , Forbes SAP voice

Bejoy Narayana, CEO of BoodsKapper, develops AI applications that can cut down customer problem resolution time by a factor of 10. Give us your superstar customer service representative, and we’ll provide an AI application that replicates their behavior, reducing problem resolution time from 10 minutes to one. This is what I heard and saw from Bejoy Narayana, CEO of BoodsKapper at the recent SAP Financial Services Innovation Summit held at the SAP Leonardo Center in New York. The Texas-based startup develops AI applications on the SAP Cloud Platform designed to not only ferret out what customers want quickly, but also communicate in their preferred medium – using any texting app or moving to a telephone conversation.   “No one likes calling customer service, and we believe that experience can be much better by training the software to behave like the ideal customer service representative, getting to the point quickly to provide a solution for busy people,” said Narayana. “Modeling the actions of a company’s best customer agent, we can train the AI engine to be up and running in weeks just as you would a new employee. This can cut down interaction times by a factor of ten.” Creating a Human-Like Dialogue…Read the rest of this article by Susan Galer on Forbes SAP voice Posted on the CART blog with permission from Bejoy Narayana, CEO BoodsKapper +MORE

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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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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BoodsKapper Retail bot

Boodskapper

This is our service for the retail industry and is primarily delivered through Facebook Messenger.  Consumers are able to send a picture of an item and ask if the retailer carries the item. The software is able to look up a retailer's catalog and answer the question.  Two-minute simulation here best explains the solution: http://www.boodskapper.com/#!retail/jjvu4 In this simulation, retailer has no prior record of the customer. Customer starts an organic conversation from Messenger, just as people do in life. BoodsKapper assists the customer to locate an article at the store. The customer picks up the conversation thread several months after the purchase and enquires about a variant of the item purchased. An organic conversation ensues and a purchase is made.is Deep reporting:   We would argue that information gold for the retailer are the conversations that your customers had with you through various channels. Our AI algorithms automatically find the meaning of the written text and use that to make the conversational response. As the meaning of conversations is analyzed and documented in real time, it is possible for us to enhance traditional reporting with this information. +MORE

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Crowdsourced Picking&Delivery for eCommerce

ReadyCart.co

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

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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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LISNR

LISNR

LISNR powers transactions and connects the global customer journey with the most advanced Ultrasonic Data Platform. LISNR’s technology addresses the growing need for simple communication between myriad devices. Based on that idea, LISNR created proprietary software for encoding data into inaudible “tones”, which were then transmitted and received using standard speakers and microphones. +MORE

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App Store for Retail

Sparkle CS Ltd

Sparkle connects legacy and online retail solutions into a real-time cloud ecosystem to enable Big Data, connected store marketing and a true omni-channel customer experience.  Using Sparkle’s technology, retailers from independents to major chains have been able to rapidly and cost-effectively deploy integrated digital technology to drive customer engagement and increase sales. Extensible Framework, an app store for your POS: Our framework allows the digital world to interact seamlessly with tills.  Want your till to do something we haven’t thought of? Add another app. Making Coupons Work, Example App: Redemption Validation (RV): Our RV POS App allows digital and paper coupons to be accepted by the POS with controls against mis-redemption, reuse and fraud. Driving Out Costs, Example App: Electronic Clearing (EC): No more need for expensive clearing houses! With EC, you know who owes you what within hours. Settle via trade accounts or let us manage it for you. Cloud-based Management, Take control of your tills: Our cloud-based solution will get you up and running in no time. Change how your tills behave from your tablet in real-time. Bridging the Gap, bringing tills online: We provide a range of patented technologies that allows legacy tills, from corner shops to mainline grocers, to join the App Store for Retail. Future Proof, avoiding strategic paralysis: NFC, RFiD or QR Codes? You don’t need to guess. The App Store for Retail allows new interfaces to be plugged in at low cost. +MORE

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Easy To Implement Loyalty

CART

Success in supermarket retailing is more and more influenced by a retailer’s ability to strategically use analytics and insights derived from shopper-identified transaction data. Targeted promotions can provide a much higher and effective return on investment than traditional mass promotion. These trends have transformed the industry, powering Kroger’s 46 consecutive quarters of same store sales growth and similar efforts underway at other leading retailers. While few can debate the power of shopper intelligence, the independent sector of the industry has been largely left behind, challenged by lack of cost-effective solutions, requisite technology integration, and lack of resources related to best using the data once gained. AppCard is a fast growing company that provides an easy-to-implement solution targeted at independent retailers. +MORE

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Freshop

Freshop

(1)

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.

(5)

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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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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GoSpotCheck

GoSpotCheck

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

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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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Beekeeper

Beekeeper Ltd.

Beekeeper is the cross-device communication tool for teams. Easily reach everyone in your company. Measure the impact of your communication, understand your employees with our smart analytics and take the right actions. Improve performance by increasing the engagement of your teams. Automated communication flows help you to simplify and speed up your internal communication. +MORE

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3 Types of Retail Execution Data: What They Are, and Why They Matter

Mat Brogie, Part of founding team and CEO of Repsly, Inc.

In today’s fiercely competitive market, retailers are taxed with the responsibility of making sure their in-store presence gives them an edge over their e-commerce counterparts. Effective retail execution is absolutely essential to keeping store sales afloat, seeing as over half of purchase decisions are made within brick-and-mortar walls. High-performing organizations incorporate three distinct data types into their retail execution strategy to keep store sales high and competitors at bay. Here we’ll discuss what those data types are, and how retailers and suppliers converge to best utilize them. Activity Data Activity data refers to the measure of outputs from brand representatives or store personnel. This encompassses metrics such as “visit frequency” or “number of shelf resets completed.”  These metrics have the power to reveal how team members are spending their time in-store. For example, retailers can rest assured that brand representatives are upholding their commitments by monitoring how often they visit the store and how much time is spent there. This data also proves useful in devising better schedules for employees based on how and when they interact with brand reps. Managers from either party (retailer or supplier) can more easily identify top performers by comparing activity data to sales lifts. What’s more, transparency around this data promotes accountability for whichever party is responsible for various retail execution tasks.  Activity data sets the stage for what’s going on within the confines of a store, but it can’t paint the whole picture. The real value comes from analyzing it against observational and sales data.  Observational Data Observational data includes qualitative data points that tell the story of what’s actually happening inside the store. Examples of this data type include notes on brand presence, photos of the shelf, or information on merchandising activities. This data tells the story of what’s actually happening at the store level, and has several practical uses. Some include: Sharing photos to prove compliance with a display or promotion Monitoring photos and other data points pertaining to shelf presence in order to flag stockouts more quickly and keep track of damages that might become returns Brands building trust with a retailer by sharing competitive intelligence from other stores through photos and questionnaires (i.e. “What does the inside of their store look like?”, “Who is shopping in it?”, etc.) Recording information about foot traffic and customer sentiment during a promotion or demo event  Observational data is able to reveal key insights about in-store presence at a very granular level of detail. However it becomes even more powerful when used in conjunction with sales data. Sales Data Sales data is simply the sales generated over a specified time period. Perhaps the most straightforward of the three data types, it’s still extremely telling. What’s interesting to retailers is how the other two data types (observational and activity) are able to push the needle on sales. Both retailers and brand suppliers can benefit from comparing historical sales data to improve forecasting, especially around the holiday season. When combined with activity and observational data, sales data reveals whether or not a promotion is effective or if a display is being properly set up. Similarly, steady sales followed by a steep drop-off could signify a stockout or the consumer switching to a competitor. Taking a look at sales and observational data can also convey where cross-merchandising is present to help retailers and brands make decisions about where else to stock complimentary SKUs. A close analysis of sales data can uncover a cannibalization that’s hurting other SKUs in a set. Conversely, brands can showcase which SKUs or promotions are the biggest sales drivers for retailers.  Putting It All Together A sizable 25% of in-store sales are lost to poor retail execution. When used either separately or in conjunction, three types of retail execution data are a retailer’s secret weapon to winning over consumers. Forward-thinking organizations understand this reality, and apply the three types of data as part of a virtuous cycle of insights, planning, and action at retail. +MORE

CART Weekly Report 3/28/19

CART, Advancing Retail

"PRESCRIBING" FRUITS AND VEGGIES WOULD SAVE $100 BILLION IN MEDICAL COSTS | Fast Company Gary's Take: The massive food and healthcare industries are converging, driven by healthcare costs, widespread chronic conditions, the growing understanding that food is medicine, and all enabled by technology. Read about iRetail comes to Healthcare in my latest book, Retail in the Age of 'I' available on Amazon. 50,000 WAREHOUSES TO USE 4 MILLION ROBOTS BY 2025, SAYS REPORT | Robotics and Automation News Gary's Take: Automation is exploding across distribution centers as more than 4 million robots are projected to be deployed in 50,000 warehouses by 2025. That's more than a 10x increase from the 4,000 warehouses using automation in 2018. The growth of eCommerce is driving more automation as companies are focused on efficiency and accuracy in order fulfillment. At the core of the rapid increase in robotics across the supply chain are growing capabilities enabled by AI. To stay competitive, retailers and wholesalers must look to the use of automation, both in existing distribution centers and new warehouses. This trend creates big opportunity for retailers to redirect resources into customer-facing roles to improve service and customer-focus. WILL RETAILERS BE READY WHEN AR ADOPTION TAKES HOLD? | RetailWire  Sterling's Take: AR or VR (or any technology) is not the answer. It should be the result of finding better ways to deliver more value to the consumer. As we’re able to create meaningful experiences that use AR/VR, something like 65% of shoppers expect it will change the way they shop, so they’re ready and willing to engage. ARE AMAZON'S PRIVATE LABELS FALLING SHORT OR JUST GETTING STARTED | RetailWire Sterling's Take: The key that Amazon has is that they've built into their culture the ability to learn, adjust and change. Even with limited success, I'm sure they're not only capturing all the data, but understanding exactly what is happening and why for their next iteration. Instead of worrying, other retailers and brands can focus their efforts on developing their people and their cultures to continually learn how to deliver increased value to the shopper. FEATURED BLOG OF THE WEEK: IT'S INDEPENDENT RETAILERS WHO ARE BETTER POISED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF TECHNOLOGY, Guest blog by Chris Cialone, Director of U.S. Sales Operations, Wonder Rewards​ HAPPENINGS CALL FOR PRESENTERS FOR VR/AR ASSOCIATION RETAIL & eCOMMERCE MAY WEBINAR DISRUPTIVE LEADERSHIP & THE SELFCARE REVOLUTION​, Boston Immersion Event Apply to present at Retail Tomorrow Labs: Boston Immersion Event on July 17-18 SPRING 2019 RETAIL INNOVATION PITCH EVENT, hosted virtually on May 23, 2019 ​Get on the Inside - CART Community FOR RETAILERS>>  FOR SOLUTIONS>> Become part of the epicenter of retail innovation exclusive network. The place where retail decision makers and solution providers come together to advance retail into the future. +MORE

CART'S INNOVATION PROGRAM

Gary Hawkins, CEO , Center for Advancing Retail and Technology

CART’s Innovation Program, done in partnership with Retail Tomorrow, is a unique offering that works for retailers and solution providers alike. Designed for national and larger regional retailers, the CART team works with the retailer’s executive team to identify 2-3 specific areas of interest like automation, in-store experience, etc. With interests established, the team then goes to work identifying the leading solution providers in each area, filtering through and curating the most appropriate capabilities. That process often entails talking with each solution to ensure applicability and set expectations. Amongst the many factors we evaluate is making sure the size and scale of the retailer is aligned with the solution provider’s resources. Connecting a young solution to a massive retailer might sound exciting, but if the solution provider lacks the resources to pilot and then scale deployments it leads to frustration on all sides. Once the appropriate solution providers have been identified we all go on-site to the retailer’s HQ to spend a day with their executive team focused around education as each solution is given an opportunity to present to the group and talk about what they do. The format allows for Q&A along with opportunity to start building relationships as everyone networks over coffee breaks and lunch. From the solution provider’s perspective, the opportunity to get time with the senior exec team from prominent retailers is invaluable. Once a solution provider is selected to participate, the CART team will work with you to review your presentation materials to make sure you’re providing the most powerful and relevant message possible about your company and what you do. The CART team will provide some coaching for the presenters to make sure you deliver your message in the time allotted (these events are pretty tightly scripted to accomplish everything).  Expectations are clearly identified on all sides early in the process. From the retailer, CART is looking for executive level commitment and engagement with the process, the executive team’s commitment to spend the day with in the on-site meeting with all the solutions, and a commitment to seriously consider piloting appropriate solutions. From solution providers, CART is looking for new innovative capabilities to help the retailer address challenges they have or provide new capabilities that are beneficial to the retailer. This involves having a good understanding of retail and how retail works and helping educate everyone in the meeting as to the technologies involved. Retailers interested in learning more about the CART Innovation Program can get more information here Solutions interested in participating can learn more here +MORE

It’s Independent Retailers Who Are Better Poised to Take Advantage of Technology


Chris Cialone, Wonder Rewards, Director of U.S. Sales Operations

Usually it’s the big chains that get the credit for leveraging the latest in technological innovations. We’re all used to seeing the splashy headlines announcing Kroger, Ahold or Amazon about to launch another new tech-centric feature or capability.  And it makes sense, one would think – the big guys have the big budgets, have innovation labs, and have R&D funding.  But independents have something the retailers don’t have – faster and nimbler decision-making abilities. Unfortunately, many independents don’t capitalize on this strength, waiting instead for technology to filter down – and by then, customers aren’t as excited and any point of differentiation is long gone. Today’s regional supermarket chains should find partners that can provide them a technological edge. Companies like Wonder Rewards, who have the ability to launch a turn-key, 100% digital loyalty marketing program that drives incremental sales by attract new customers, retaining the best customers, and offers up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. Wonder Rewards uses transactional data to: Plan out a responsive customer journey Analyze data for insights and segmentation Design marketing campaigns using insights Execute those campaigns with offers and content in personalized texts, notifications or email Report on results, re-calibrate and optimize campaigns What other technology is under-utilized by independents? Globalization. Technology has made the world smaller, it is now possible for a local grocery retailer to expand their customer base to include consumers in other countries, and these consumers LOVE American-made consumer packaged goods. There is a high trust factor to consumable products made in the US under stricter government safety regulations that exists outside of the US. Technology, like that made available to independents allows products sold by grocery retailers to be sold and delivered to the doorstep of millions of consumers in Asian countries.  In another example of an attention-grabbing headline from a big chain, last August Kroger released a statement saying that “e-commerce enables Kroger to quickly scale to reach new customers and markets where we don't operate physical stores, starting with China.” And that the arrangement will “meet Chinese consumers' growing demand for high-quality, organic food products.” Independent stores can now do the same with the Wonder Rewards online marketplace. You can expand the size of your customer base from your local market area to include millions of Chinese consumers who appreciate the value and quality of American made consumer package goods.  A logistic partner manages the process from product placement on the online marketplace to shipping direct to your new Chinese customer’s doorstep. E1 Marketing Edge is an example of an emerging tech-centric company that can expand the size of independent retailers’ market from those within a reasonable driving distance to a global audience, regardless of language or culture. Interested? Stop by booth # 1204 at NGA to learn more. +MORE

Mobile App Pain Points

John Kangas, CEO, FwdMbl Solutions

Your current in-house system works great within your four walls.  The pain starts when you walk out that door and it can give you a full-on business migraine by the end of the day. We can ease the pain by targeting these five major sources when your workforce hits the road. Breakdowns in Communication When an Account Manager, Sales Rep, Delivery Driver, or Customer directly needs information, they need it NOW!  It should not require phone calls, strings of emails to and from the office or multiple warehouse locations to find product, invoice information, aging or account information, upcoming orders, etc. It’s frustrating and time consuming for everyone involved.  You should not require an Internet connection to give this to your customer when you are standing in front of them. FwdMbl Solutions gives Account Managers, Sales Reps, Delivery Drivers all this information right at their fingertips. It is available without the need for Wi-Fi or a cell signal and can be printed, emailed or faxed right there. There’s no need to track down items or pricing, looking up inventory and pricing is immediate. Pricing Errors Let’s face it, pricing can be complicated. If updates in pricing don’t make it to the ones that are selling in the field you can lose money. If incorrect information is given it can turn into an embarrassing situation.  Pricing can be different per customer given contracted pricing or discounts. Sales may be given leeway to adjust pricing on the fly within reason.  There are many scenarios as there are companies.  Pricing needs to be up-to-date and correct each and every time FwdMbl Solutions handles all pricing scenarios. All pricing updates can be real-time saving you money and confusion. Workflow Issues The system you are using doesn’t match your workflow.  You need to hunt for your tasks and weed through things you don’t use.  You are jumping from one item to another just to complete these tasks.  This takes precious time and leads to frustration. FwdMbl Solutions gives you role-based programming.  It gives you only your work for the day and one task seamlessly flows to the next. It’s so efficient, before you know it, your day is complete with time to spare! Internet Connection/Equipment Problems I see it almost every day while going to the grocery store, convenience store or my favorite restaurant.  Account Managers, Sales People, and Delivery Drivers trying to connect to Wi-Fi, or get any Internet connection.  Once they do, connection is slow and they have wait for webpages to display on their screen.  When it does finally appear, the information is hard to read or cannot be given to the customer. Printers disconnect or jam. Old devices just giving up the ghost. FwdMbl Solutions’ Apps are native apps that work connected or disconnected. They are not merely a webpage you are trying to display on your phone.  We use our unique technology to make sure your employees are never waiting for the information they need.  Once the information is pinpointed it can be printed, emailed or faxed to give immediate access to your customer. Training is Difficult FwdMbl Solutions’ Apps are robust, yet simple and elegant.  The screens are not busy or hard to read.  The workflow is intuitive and training is a breeze. The PAIN IS REAL!  When your software is in your employees’ hands and doesn’t work disconnected, has missing or inaccurate customer or order information, has printer or scanner malfunctions, or is cumbersome to use it is a recipe for unhappy employees and unhappy customers. At FwdMbl Solutions we can enhance your customer experience and improve employee satisfaction with our Mobile Apps and Portals.  We do this by connecting to your existing systems, so there is no need to change everything you do, only what they see.  We interface to your backend ERP, POS or other systems and display your information in a Mobile App or Portal that is fast and truly mobile. It is easy to use and best of all, it runs on the mobile phone you already own. Don’t own a phone? You can use an affordable Android device from our hardware partners. +MORE

The Growing Role of Data Intelligence in eGrocery

Michael Demko, CEO and Founder, Locai Solutions

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

Five Predictions for Retail Transformation in 2019

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

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

Local Express

Local Express

Local Express develops, builds and deploys an online grocery store in the most cost-effective and fastest means possible for ordering and delivery on the market.  We deliver turnkey digital shopping and delivery solution to grocery stores, developed by our experienced e-commerce development and content production team. +MORE

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Pseudo Customer Centricity: Fool’s Gold

Gary Hawkins on Winsight Grocery Business, CART

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

The Top Five Ways Retailers Benefit from Industry Trade Shows

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

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

NGA Show 2019: The Epicenter of Grocery Industry Innovation

CART, Advancing Retail

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

Technology's Profound Impact on the Supermarket Industry

Peter Larkin, President & CEO, National Grocers Association

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

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