Professional services

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

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

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

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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BEFORE! Predictive Analytics

ACT Operations Research

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

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Solution Providers need Tailored Approach

Gary Hawkins, CEO, Center for Advancing Retail and Technology

Solution providers are drawn to the massive grocery industry because of its size and scale. But successfully selling into that massive retail industry requires an understanding of how the industry is structured as different sectors require a different approach. According to FMI, there are an estimated 37,000 supermarkets in the U.S.. Here is how we commonly think about the retail vertical: National Retailers: Companies like Walmart, Kroger, Albertsons, and other retailers with national presence. Super Regional Retailers: Companies like Publix and Ahold that have an estimated 1,000 stores and are geographically concentrated (like Publix in the Southeast, Ahold Delhaize on the east coast). Mid-Market Regional Retailers: Retailers with an estimated 25-500 stores. There are many of these retail companies across the country, nearly all of them are privately owned. Independent Retailers: Retailers with fewer than 25 stores, many of them 1-5 store operators. This group represents thousands of stores across the country. One of the first things solution providers should do is determine which sector of the supermarket industry they want to focus their sales & marketing efforts on; each type of retailer has different needs. That sector focus then helps determine your sales and marketing approach. While every young tech company might love to sell into Walmart or Kroger, realistically that is a really tough thing to do early on. Better is to start with a smaller retailer, prove out your solution capability and the benefits to the retailer and/or shopper, and then have a story along with associated data supporting your claimed benefits. +MORE

Innovation for Retailers

Gary Hawkins, CEO, Center for Advancing Retail and Technology

Nearly everyone understands the innovation imperative today. The challenge is that retailers, regardless of size, have limited resources to devote to discovering, understanding, piloting, and deploying, new capabilities. Solution providers seeking to sell new innovative capabilities to retailers would do well to keep the issue of resource constraints top of mine when approaching retailers. Retail success requires incredible operational execution and retail executives spend nearly all their time focused on the day to day operations of their business.  From a sales perspective, solutions want to really think through the benefits of what your solution provides AND be prepared to clearly communicate what’s involved from the retailer’s perspective to test and deploy your capability. Be very clear on what’s required from the retailer, both initially to set things up, and then ongoing to keep your solution performing well. Work with the retailer to understand each requirement and where and when it happens on some kind of project timeline so the retailer clearly understands what is expected of them to be successful. Depending on what capabilities you are proposing, talk with the retailer about requirements at the retailer’s headquarters level and store-level as appropriate. Help the retailer understand how to operationalize your solution. Does the retailer need to train their people? Does the retailer need associates with new skill sets to use your solution? These are vitally important questions to ask and discuss as part of the sales process. It is only with clear understanding and expectations that any new innovation has an opportunity to succeed. +MORE

It’s all in the Pricing for Solution Providers

Gary Hawkins, CEO, Center for Advancing Retail and Technology

The massive retail industry represents an immense market for solution providers; that’s part of why so much innovation is flooding into retail. And while the flood of innovative capabilities available to retailers continues to grow, many solution providers - especially younger companies - make doing business with them more challenging than it needs to be by having confusing and complex pricing models. We’ve seen nearly every revenue (pricing) model there is possible, from different technologies to different market strategies. We’ve seen some succeed and others fail. Here are a few thoughts from that experience… Free: Some solutions seek to deploy their capabilities in retail stores but look to make their revenue from other sources. This could include, for example, a kiosk solution that provides offers (coupons) from brand manufacturers. The revenue model is based on brands paying, and getting the kiosk into the store (in this example) helps get more customers involved. The problem with the ‘free’ model is that retailers pay no attention to it - they have no skin in the game - and the solution will frequently wind up in the back corner, if not the back room. So while ‘free’ may sound attractive in certain cases, there is often a downside. Gain Sharing: We’ve seen some solution providers seek to get a percentage of sales or increase in margin that their solution creates for retailers. Historically, retailers severely dislike this model. Retail is too complex and dynamic, the retailer having no sure way to know that whatever revenue or margin gain is realized is attributable to a specific solution. So beware of the revenue share approach. License: This is the most straightforward approach for software solutions today; a straightforward license model. This can be tiered based on retailer size (# stores or annual revenue) or can be tied to a per-store license model. We suggest you avoid a license model that is tied to the number of users or ‘seats’, that approach has proven very unpopular. There are many variants on these and other pricing models, too many to get into here. The key message we want to convey is this: Keep you pricing model as simple and straightforward as possible and draw a direct connection between the cost to the retailer and the value your solution can create for them. +MORE

CART Weekly Report 5/23/19

CART, Advancing Retail

WHY FOOD COULD BE THE BEST MEDICINE OF ALL | Time Gary’s Take: Food is absolutely the new medicine as a growing number of consumers rebel against the ever-exploding costs of healthcare and prescription drugs, and lose faith in the traditional medical profession. Consumers are increasingly looking elsewhere - their local supermarket? - for ways to improve their wellbeing. Over two thousand years ago Hippocrates called out “Let food be thy medicine and medicine by thy food”. Today, we are seeing AI and big data converging to transform the information available to the shopper to help guide the individual to foods actually beneficial to their wellbeing. Cutting edge nutrition science applied to nutritionally sensitive chronic health conditions, combined with expanded product nutrition data and sophisticated personalization engines, is poised to transform health & wellness and, more so, the greater food industry.   NEVER MIND THE RETAIL APOCALYPSE. WE'RE STILL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE POST-RECESSION STORM | Winsight Grocery Business Gary’s Take: The Great Recession (2007-2009) was a decade ago - a lifetime in terms of the changes in consumer behavior technology has wrought and in how retailers go to market. Rather than pining for 'pre-recession' shopper behavior, retailers would be far better served to focus on the reality of today and the demands of tomorrow. Consumers today are different and shop differently than ever before in history, in large part because of technology enabling new ways to discover and learn about products and services and new ways to procure them. With so many retailers unprepared to do battle with Amazon, and ill-prepared to compete with the innovation being pursued by Walmart and Kroger, there is no time to focus on the past. Far too many retailers lack the data and capabilities needed to provide contextual relevancy to their shoppers and are slow to pursue automation that is driving a growing productivity gap. Time thinking about the 'good old days' may feel nice but won't deliver tomorrow's success. WHY DOES LOYALTY PROGRAM ROI REMAIN SO MURKY | RetailWire Sterling’s Take: Anything that stays the same too long becomes stagnant, and that’s exactly what happens with a lot of loyalty programs. They can become expected, boring and less impactful over time if they’re not continually kept alive and exciting.The right metrics (basket sizes, lifetime value, customer profitability) give us an opportunity to see what’s really going on, but also to see and create new value for our customers. KROGER LAUNCHES ACCELERATOR FUND | RetailWire Sterling’s Take: I like how this gives Kroger more insight and participation in the brand world. They have the data and insight they need from the most important place: the point of purchase. As a startup brand, it’s a relationship that’d be hard to turn down, but might cause conflict selling into other retailers. The relationship between retailers and brands is already complex and this adds another piece to the puzzle.  WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE TOUGH GET TRANSPARENT | RetailWire Sterling’s Take: It’s always best to tell the truth in the long run. Although I don’t know how Rothy’s was so close to the launch before realizing quality was an issue, growing pains are natural. Consumers are ready, willing and understanding of things that don’t go as planned as long as we’re open and honest (and have a plan to make it better). FEATURED BLOG OF THE WEEK: IT'S ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS by Gary Hawkins, CEO CART HAPPENINGS: UPCOMING ON-SITE INNOVATION DAYS - Specifically looking for the following solutions to apply to present: Wakefern - June 29, 2019: In-store Engagement - Digital Marketing - Data and Personalization Tools (Apply by May 25, 2019) Food City - July 15, 2019 TEDx CHULA VISTA - How Leaders Innovate - May 25, 2019 at Southwestern College  CART Co-Founder, Sterling Hawkins will be speaking on How Leaders Innovate  EVENT DETAILS>> PURCHASE TICKET>> DISRUPTIVE LEADERSHIP & THE SELFCARE REVOLUTION​, Boston Immersion Event - Hosted July 17 & 18th, 2019 Apply to present at Retail Tomorrow Labs: Boston - Applications due June 15th, 2019 Full Agenda OUTLOOK LEADERSHIP - August 11-14, 2019 in Asheville, NC The convenience industry’s premier, invitation-only event, that you cannot afford to miss. In a world of accelerating change, where we are going and how do we build our organizations to thrive there? Sterling Hawkins will take attendees on a retail journey. C-Store operators can register today at https://outlookleadership.com/ using Invite Code: power REFLEXIONS 2019: INTELLIGENT RETAIL - August 12-15, 2019 at Caesars Place in Las Vegas GROCERYSHOP - September 15-18, 2019 at the Venetian in Las Vegas Preliminary Agenda Speakers CART COMMUNITY. GET ON THE INSIDE. MEMBERSHIP HAS BENEFITS.  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. ✔️Blogs ✔️Newsletter ✔️Webinars ✔️Accelerator ✔️Pitch Events ✔️Solution Spotlights  ✔️Innovation Programs ✔️Educational Content FOR RETAILERS>> Proven programs to advance your business FOR SOLUTIONS>>Your growth engine into retail VIEW ALL SOLUTIONS HERE CONTACT US TELL ME HOW TO GET MY SOLUTION ADDED TO CART Get the CART Weekly Report delivered to your inbox. Sign up here. +MORE

It's All About Relationships

Gary Hawkins, CEO, Center for Advancing Retail and Technology

My family’s store started as a summer farmstand by my great-grandmother in 1934. I can remember as a kid getting up early on Saturday mornings to go to the regional market with my father, looking to buy fresh fruits and vegetables for sale that day, supplementing what we grew on our farm. My favorite part was swinging by a local bakery to pick up donuts and baked goods to sell. Nothing like a donut still warm from the fryer, just dripping with glaze. What I also remember is how my grandfather seemed to know everyone. He knew Alice, and that she shopped on Wednesdays and loved fresh, local strawberries still warm from the field. He knew Ben, and that he liked his strip steaks cut extra thick. And even Mrs. Johnson and her dog Buck, a massive great dane, who loved getting a bone as a special treat from our meat department. I remember we shopped for Mrs. Gardner, delivering her groceries on our way home. And this was years before home delivery was a thing! That was personalized retail. The customer was the most important part of the business. And that was the constant refrain over the ensuing years. ‘The customer is the most important part of our business’ is the pablum I, and many others in the industry, was raised on. Except something happened between then and now. Stores became bigger and busier. Product assortment exploded. Competition developed from every quarter. And food became available anywhere and everywhere. As the industry grew larger we began to lose focus on the customer. How we made money - or at least how we thought we made money - began to shift. Merchandising — deciding what products to put on the shelves and which products to promote  —became an exalted position in our organizations. The increasing focus on products grew hand in hand with a growing focus on obtaining marketing funds from brand manufacturers. One could easily make the case that it was because of marketing funds that products grew to take center stage. Today, many major retailers would not be profitable were it not for those subsidies that support sale prices to the shopper, help offset advertising costs, bolster category margins, and enrich the bottom line.  In a very real sense, brand marketing funds have insidiously shifted retailer focus away from the customer to a dependency on products. Retail became product-driven.   But let’s step back for a moment from retail to examine what’s happening in the world around us. As we saw earlier, 3D printing and augmented and virtual reality are transforming the world of mass produced goods. This signals a move from the industrial revolution to a world of customized products and services. The birth of the internet and the world wide web set the stage for the digitization of commerce, removing the personalization penalty for marketers who had to pay a high price for marketing differentiation in the physical world. In short, technology has fundamentally changed the world of one (product or service) to many (consumers) to a world of many (customized, personalized products or services) to one (shopper). Beyond the world wide web, perhaps no technology has fostered consumer expectation of relevancy more than the smartphone. Mobile has brought with it a fast-growing expectation of contextual relevancy, the shopper knowing that merchants have access to technologies providing realtime location in a store or mall. Between the mobile browser and the countless apps available today, each of us has access to the world from the device in our hand, and increasingly that world is tailored to each of us individually. And that brings us back to retail.  In the midst of this Age of ‘i’, the retail industry remains largely on the sidelines. Weekly ads, printed and distributed with the newspaper, filled with mass promotions, are simply out of sync with what our customers want today. Sure, some industry marketing vehicles have gone digital, but a digital version of the mass ad is spam and syndicated coupons are only relevant if I go searching for them.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  We as retailers can reclaim our customer heritage. We can use new technologies and capabilities to recreate those personal relationships of yesterday and become truly relevant to each of our individual customers today. And that’s what Retail in the Age of ‘i’ is all about. It is about fulfilling the destiny of retail by regaining a focus on the customer. It is about building relationships with each and every one of our individual customers. And it is about returning products to their rightful role in service to each of our customers.  An excerpt from Retail in the Age of ‘I’. Available on Amazon.com   +MORE

CART Weekly Report 5/16/19

CART , Advancing Retail

HOW TARGET USES ITS STARTUP ACCELERATORS TO STRENGTHEN ITS IN-HOUSE CAPABILITIES | Digiday Gary’s Take: Target’s accelerator program is a way for the retailer to support new innovation that can (hopefully) ultimately help the company. But this type of approach only works for the largest retailers that can devote significant resources. An alternative approach is provided by Retail Tomorrow’s Headquarters Events program, an innovation program specially curated for the specific retailer. Designed for regional and national retailers, the program identifies areas of interest from the retailer, then draws upon thousands of new innovative solutions to filter and curate those most appropriate. The team also includes ‘black swans’, new game-changing capabilities that the retailer should have on their radar. The selected solutions are brought together for a day on-site at the retailer’s HQ for a day focused around learning. This is the most effective way we see in the market today for retailers to gain intelligent awareness to new innovation. DRONES IN AISLE 5? GROCERY STORES ARE BECOMING UNUSUAL HOTBEDS OF INNOVATION | Denver Post Gary’s Take: Supermarkets have indeed become hotbeds of innovation, as we see from the regular stories coming out about new technologies being deployed by big retailers like Walmart, Kroger, and Amazon. While these stories get all the coverage, it makes you wonder what’s happening across the regional and independent retail sectors… are these mid-size and smaller retailers experimenting with and deploying new capabilities? Many smaller retailers have already decided they can’t or don’t want to keep up with ever faster innovation. Yet at the same time I know many regional and independent retailers are doing some exciting things. I would love to hear from regional and independent retailers that are pursuing innovative capabilities! I think it is important for all of us to maintain a diverse industry - a mix of all size retailers - as we go forward. Innovation can be a costly game and anything we can do to promote and publicize impactful innovation by smaller retailers can only help tech companies and solution providers understand the opportunity at all levels of retail. WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE (FILL IN THE BLANK) CATEGORY? | RetailWire Sterling’s Take: There’s something to be gained here from the perspective. “What strategies should we follow” is different than “how can we best serve our customers.” When an organization starts to ask more questions like the latter, the more positive results follow. If we turn our stores into commodities (by being all tactics and strategies to maximize return) customers will treat us that way too. There is of course a place for all the tactics, but they’re most effective secondary to a culture that’s really about serving the human beings that shop with them. WHY IS AMAZON PAYING EMPLOYEES TO QUIT THEIR JOBS? | RetailWire Sterling’s Take: There are no rules in this game (only some laws). This is a great way to transform the delivery market and empower their people. 100% agree that Amazon only stands to gain to make sure that everyone that steps into this program wins.  FEATURED BLOG OF THE WEEK: UNDERSTANDING THE AGE OF ‘i’ by Gary Hawkins, CEO CART HAPPENINGS: TEDx CHULA VISTA - How Leaders Innovate - May 25, 2019 at Southwestern College  CART Co-Founder, Sterling Hawkins will be speaking on How Leaders Innovate  EVENT DETAILS>> PURCHASE TICKET>> DISRUPTIVE LEADERSHIP & THE SELFCARE REVOLUTION​, Boston Immersion Event - Hosted July 17 & 18th, 2019 Apply to present at Retail Tomorrow Labs: Boston - Applications due June 15th, 2019 Full Agenda OUTLOOK LEADERSHIP - August 11-14, 2019 in Asheville, NC The convenience industry’s premier, invitation-only event, that you cannot afford to miss. In a world of accelerating change, where we are going and how do we build our organizations to thrive there? Sterling Hawkins will take attendees on a retail journey. C-Store operators can register today at https://outlookleadership.com/ using Invite Code: power GROCERYSHOP - September 15-18, 2019 at the Venetian in Las Vegas  Preliminary Agenda Speakers INFLUENTIALS: TOP MOVERS AND SHAKERS IN RETAIL 2019 | RIS News CART COMMUNITY - GET ON THE INSIDE. MEMBERSHIP HAS BENEFITS. Become part of the epicenter of retail innovation exclusive network. The place retail decision makers and solution providers come together to advance retail into the future. ✔️Blogs ✔️Newsletter ✔️Webinars ✔️Accelerator ✔️Pitch Events ✔️Solution Spotlights  ✔️Innovation Programs ✔️Educational Content​ LEARN MORE >> VIEW ALL SOLUTIONS HERE CONTACT US TELL ME HOW TO GET MY SOLUTION ADDED TO CART GET THE CART WEEKLY REPORT DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX. SIGN UP HERE. +MORE

CART Weekly Report 5/17/19

CART , Advancing Retail

HOW TARGET USES ITS STARTUP ACCELERATORS TO STRENGTHEN ITS IN-HOUSE CAPABILITIES | Digiday Gary’s Take: Target’s accelerator program is a way for the retailer to support new innovation that can (hopefully) ultimately help the company. But this type of approach only works for the largest retailers that can devote significant resources. An alternative approach is provided by Retail Tomorrow’s Headquarters Events program, an innovation program specially curated for the specific retailer. Designed for regional and national retailers, the program identifies areas of interest from the retailer, then draws upon thousands of new innovative solutions to filter and curate those most appropriate. The team also includes ‘black swans’, new game-changing capabilities that the retailer should have on their radar. The selected solutions are brought together for a day on-site at the retailer’s HQ for a day focused around learning. This is the most effective way we see in the market today for retailers to gain intelligent awareness to new innovation. DRONES IN AISLE 5? GROCERY STORES ARE BECOMING UNUSUAL HOTBEDS OF INNOVATION | Denver Post Gary’s Take: Supermarkets have indeed become hotbeds of innovation, as we see from the regular stories coming out about new technologies being deployed by big retailers like Walmart, Kroger, and Amazon. While these stories get all the coverage, it makes you wonder what’s happening across the regional and independent retail sectors… are these mid-size and smaller retailers experimenting with and deploying new capabilities? Many smaller retailers have already decided they can’t or don’t want to keep up with ever faster innovation. Yet at the same time I know many regional and independent retailers are doing some exciting things. I would love to hear from regional and independent retailers that are pursuing innovative capabilities! I think it is important for all of us to maintain a diverse industry - a mix of all size retailers - as we go forward. Innovation can be a costly game and anything we can do to promote and publicize impactful innovation by smaller retailers can only help tech companies and solution providers understand the opportunity at all levels of retail. WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE FILL IN THE BLANK CATEGORY? | RetailWire Sterling’s Take: There’s something to be gained here from the perspective. “What strategies should we follow” is different than “how can we best serve our customers.” When an organization starts to ask more questions like the latter, the more positive results follow. If we turn our stores into commodities (by being all tactics and strategies to maximize return) customers will treat us that way too. There is of course a place for all the tactics, but they’re most effective secondary to a culture that’s really about serving the human beings that shop with them. WHY IS AMAZON PAYING EMPLOYEES TO QUIT THEIR JOBS? | RetailWire Sterling’s Take: There are no rules in this game (only some laws). This is a great way to transform the delivery market and empower their people. 100% agree that Amazon only stands to gain to make sure that everyone that steps into this program wins. FEATURED BLOG OF THE WEEK: UNDERSTANDING THE AGE OF ‘i’ by Gary Hawkins, CEO CART HAPPENINGS: TEDx CHULA VISTA - May 25, 2019 at Southwestern College  CART Co-Founder, Sterling Hawkins will be speaking on How Leaders Innovate  EVENT DETAILS>> PURCHASE TICKET>> DISRUPTIVE LEADERSHIP & THE SELFCARE REVOLUTION​, Boston Immersion Event - Hosted July 17 & 18th, 2019 Apply to present at Retail Tomorrow Labs: Boston - Applications due June 15th, 2019 Full Agenda OUTLOOK LEADERSHIP - August 11-14, 2019 in Asheville, NC The convenience industry’s premier, invitation-only event, that you cannot afford to miss. In a world of accelerating change, where we are going and how do we build our organizations to thrive there? Sterling Hawkins will take attendees on a retail journey. C-Store operators can register today at https://outlookleadership.com/ using Invite Code: power GROCERYSHOP - September 15-18, 2019 at the Venetian in Las Vegas Preliminary Agenda Speakers INFLUENTIALS: TOP MOVERS AND SHAKERS IN RETAIL 2019 | RIS News   CART COMMUNITY - GET ON THE INSIDE. MEMBERSHIP HAS BENEFITS. 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. ✔️Blogs ✔️Newsletter ✔️Accelerator ✔️Pitch Events ✔️Solution Spotlights  ✔️Innovation Programs ✔️Educational Content FOR RETAILERS>> Proven programs to advance your business FOR SOLUTIONS>>Your growth engine into retail VIEW ALL SOLUTIONS HERE CONTACT US TELL ME HOW TO GET MY SOLUTION ADDED TO CART Get the CART Weekly Report delivered to your inbox. Sign up here. +MORE

Understanding the Age of ‘i’

Gary Hawkins, CEO, Center for Advancing Retail and Technology

Look about and you see that the world is becoming increasingly tailored to you, your interests, and your needs. We have come to take for granted the personalization and relevancy in the digital world, no longer thinking about our customized news feeds. We give no thought to the complexity of systems and algorithms driving the process of sorting through nearly 600 million products sold by Amazon, or the thousands of movies available on Netflix. The work behind the scenes provides us with relevant recommendations. We simply see the suggestions put in front of us and, more often than not, make a purchase. AI Drives Customization The recent growth of artificial intelligence is powering yet more customization in the digital world. It is AI powering the voice-enabled digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant, and Apple’s Siri. Amazon is intent on making Alexa ubiquitous in our lives, available not just in our homes but in our cars, offices, libraries, and even hospitals. The digital world is ours for the asking, any time, any place.  Forgot something for the dinner party tonight? Just ask Alexa to order it while you’re driving to work. And Alexa is getting smarter. Amazon recently received a patent tied to Alexa’s ability to recognize a user’s physical and emotional states and respond to how you’re feeling. Alexa can now tell if you’re suffering from a cold and suggest ordering chicken soup from Whole Foods to be delivered in the next couple hours. If you want to shop by voice, you’re not limited to Amazon; Kroger recently joined Walmart, Walgreens, and other retailers providing consumers the ability to use Google Assistant to place online orders simply by speaking. Growing numbers of retail merchants are integrating to the predominant digital assistants, those provided by Amazon, Google, and Apple. It is AI-powered voice recognition that is enabling a new world of services. Woebot is your virtual therapist available 24x7 through your smartphone. No need for a couch, no meds, and no dredging up childhood memories. Have a problem? Feeling sad or depressed? Just ask Woebot. And if exercising is better than going to a therapist, Vi is at your service. Vi is your virtual personal trainer, accessing your workout data from your smartwatch, smartphone, and IoT-enabled equipment in the gym to provide realtime guidance — run faster! lift more! — communicated to you through your wireless headset. Increasingly, the personalization found in the digital domain is manifesting in our physical world. 3D printing technology is helping drive this as shoes and clothing are created to our own individual specifications. Similar technology is being used to ‘print’ body parts and even organs. Nike’s Configurator enables shoppers to customize their shoes, selecting colors and even materials. BareMinerals Made-2-Fit’s app leverages the iPhone’s camera and processing power to enable a user to scan their skin and get a custom makeup foundation delivered to their home with their name on the bottle, backed by a 100% Shade Match Guarantee.   And when the makeup is delivered to your home, you’ll know it as you lie on the beach, receiving a notification on your phone. Opening the app, you can see and communicate with the driver through your smart doorbell. Voice-powered digital assistants connected to IoT devices enable you to customize your home to your desires simply by asking. While driving home you can ask Alexa to turn on the lights, warm the oven, and put some music on to greet you upon arrival. A growing number of smart appliances are connected to Amazon’s automated replenishment service so you no longer have to be bothered to remember to reorder laundry detergent; your smart home can take care of that for you. Kroger is working to make the brick and mortar store personalized to you. The company is deploying a new digital shelf display; one of its features will be lighting up relevant products for you as you walk down the aisle. Kroger is not only calling out relevant products as you shop but also personalizing the price to entice you to buy. Online shoppers are increasingly able to tailor the delivery of products. You can have products delivered to your home, your office, the trunk of your car, available for pickup at the store on your way home, and more. You can reserve clothing online and find it waiting for you in the store’s fitting room when you arrive. With Amazon’s Key service you can even have the delivery person put your groceries in the refrigerator at home while you’re at work. The world is increasingly your way. And what is perhaps the ultimate in personalization, medicine and healthcare are rapidly becoming tailored to the individual, using the person’s genome and other bio-markers. The use of technology to gather realtime health data from wearables, combined with a person’s genomic blueprint, can help doctors assess an individual’s disease susceptibility and develop personalized treatment plans. This movement is already underway. The Isala Hospital in the Netherlands is using 3D food printing to customize meals to ensure that each person receives the nutrition needed to get them better faster. Retailers Slow to Adapt So we have a world increasingly customized to each individual, not only in the digital world, but increasingly in the physical world. And yet much of the retail industry goes to market and operates largely as it did fifty years ago with weekly ads filled with mass promotion, the same products, services, and prices for all.  At the core of this tumult is technology-fueled innovation. Retail executives are used to brick and mortar competitors of all types, from low cost, limited assortment stores like Aldi, Save-A-Lot, and Family Dollar, to more highbrow operators like Wegmans and Whole Foods. What retail executives are not accustomed to is competing with some of the world’s largest and most powerful technology companies and a plethora of nimble, young startups gunning to transform a lethargic industry. This is an entirely new playing field where disruption is the new normal. Retail executives are poorly prepared for this new world, accustomed to a slow-moving industry and a time when retailers dictated industry change and innovation. Today, retail companies are adrift in a world of increasingly fast change across the supply chain as consumers rapidly adopt new technologies and new competitors spring forth at a bewildering pace. Too many retailers are dealing with the symptoms of innovation rather than addressing the underlying forces. And this approach is dangerous, leading executives to make short-term tactical decisions without benefit of understanding the larger battle being waged. Consumed with the nuts and bolts tactical execution required to simply stay alive in such an intense, high volume, low margin business, retail leaders are challenged to step back and understand the vast forces at work.  And yet they must. Welcome to the Age of ‘i’.  An excerpt from Retail in the Age of ‘I’. Available on Amazon.com +MORE

CART Weekly Report 5/9/19

CART, ADVANCING RETAIL

THE RETAIL APOCALYPSE HAS CLAIMED 6,000 STORES IN 2019 SO FAR, MORE THAN THE NUMBER THAT SHUT DOWN IN ALL OF 2018 | Business Insider Gary’s Take: Grocery retail has not yet been swept up in the Retail Apocalypse in a major way but I don't believe that is going to last. As eCommerce sales grow it is inevitable that grocery stores will close. But it is the disruption caused by Amazon, and increasingly by Walmart and Kroger, as they invest heavily in new innovation that is going to drive competing supermarket retailers out. Even large regional supermarket chains simply do not have the resources to bet on new innovative, disruptive capabilities that the largest players do. Regional retailers need to focus more limited resources on gaining awareness to new innovation, understanding what capabilities to focus on, and reimagining the shopping experience using new technologies to personalize each engagement to the individual customer and deliver exciting new services. RETAIL SUCCESS DEPENDS ON HOW YOU ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS | Winsight Grocery Business  Gary’s Take: There is a fundamental shift underway in retail away from mass marketing to focusing on each individual customer and providing meaningful savings on relevant products. This shift requires significant data and intelligence to help power that contextual relevancy. H&M WILL CEASE PRINTING IT’S CATALOG AFTER 39 YEARS | RetailWire Sterling’s Take: It’s the right move. Not just for sustainability reasons, but it gives H&M the chance to rethink processes to improve customer experience all around. It’s less about online/offline and more about curating the right content via the right channels that make sense to their customers. WILL A STRATEGY BUILT AROUND CHAING PEOPLE’S LIVES TRANSFORM LULULEMON’S BUSINESS? | RetailWire Sterling’s Take: I’m not sure Lululemon has ever been playing purely a price-based game. They’re not worried about commodities. How else could a premium yoga brand grow selling $150 yoga pants during a recession? This seems like an extension of Chip Wilson’s culture and purpose driven mission. Their future relies on people buying into the vision and lifestyle, just like it always has. INFLUENTIALS: TOP MOVERS AND SHAKERS IN RETAIL 2019 | RIS News​ FEATURED BLOG OF THE WEEK: RECLAIMING RETAIL'S CUSTOMER HERITAGE by Gary Hawkins, CEO CART HAPPENINGS: OUTLOOK LEADERSHIP - August 11-14, 2019 in Asheville, NC  The convenience industry’s premier, invitation-only event, that you cannot afford to miss. In a world of accelerating change, where we are going and how do we build our organizations to thrive there? Sterling Hawkins will take attendees on a retail journey. C-Store operators can register today at https://outlookleadership.com/ using Invite Code: power GROCERYSHOP - September 15-18, 2019 at the Venetian in Las Vegas   Preliminary Agenda Speakers CREATING ROI IN THE FUTURE OF AR/VR IN RETAIL: HOW RETAILERS ARE USING VR/AR TO ACHIEVE GROWTH, PROFITABILITY, AND CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE GOALS  Questions? Contact Retail and eCommerce Committee Event Co-Chair,​ Sterling Hawkins DISRUPTIVE LEADERSHIP & THE SELFCARE REVOLUTION​, Boston Immersion Event  Apply to present at Retail Tomorrow Labs: Boston - Applications due June 15th, 2019 Full Agenda Get on the Inside - CART Community  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. FOR RETAILERS>> Proven programs to advance your business FOR SOLUTIONS>>Your growth engine into retail VIEW ALL SOLUTIONS HERE CONTACT US TELL ME HOW TO GET MY SOLUTION ADDED TO CART Get the CART Weekly Report delivered to your inbox. Sign up here. +MORE

Reclaiming Retail’s Customer Heritage

Gary Hawkins, CEO, Center for Advancing Retail and Technology

Today will be the slowest pace of change in your lifetime. Consider that for a moment. The ubiquitous iPhone was introduced just a decade ago, and today we take the app store and all the capabilities we have in our hand for granted. It seems like only yesterday that robots were the realm of science fiction, yet today we find them roaming store aisles, autonomous pods delivering groceries, and automated warehouses fast becoming the norm. Even the production of food itself is being transformed as meat is grown in factories and greens are grown in trailers alongside the store. The fast moving consumer goods retail industry is in chaos and the shift online is only the tip of the iceberg as disruption sweeps across every part of the supply chain. And this disruption is only just getting started. Technologies are converging, triggering even greater growth in world-changing capabilities. And even industries are converging as new technologies, consumer interest, and economic forces come into play. Many retailers are being whipsawed by the shift online and the explosive growth of innovation, not knowing where to focus next. Amidst this chaos, some retailers are trying to do everything while others are overwhelmed to the point of paralysis. And all retailers are moving too slowly, often not understanding the underlying forces at work driving this new world. Five year plans, a staple of management, are obsolete before the save button is clicked as new capabilities, new competitors, and new consumer demands arise almost daily. To bring order to the chaos retailers need to focus on the one constant that is ever-present: The customer. We have entered the Age of ‘i’. This is a time of quickening innovation; expanding intelligence powered by artificial intelligence feeding off big data, and immersive experiences provided by augmented and virtual reality, with all of it increasingly focused on making the world all about each individual person. Retail in the Age of ‘i’ reclaims the industry’s heritage of customer focus growing from the days of the corner store. Today, retailers have the ability to leverage vast new technologies to once again focus on the individual customer, partnering with each customer as we journey forward. And beyond technology, retailers have an opportunity to inject humanness into a shopping experience that is at risk of becoming an automated, people-free process of replenishment. The retail industry is rapidly approaching a crossroads. One path is leading to an efficient, cost-effective, yet sterile, shopping environment ruled by automation. The other is positioning technology in service to customers, taking advantage of automation to redirect human associates to engage with shoppers in either the physical or virtual environments, and fostering the personal relationships between the merchant and the customer that were a part of life decades ago.   “Throughout history, human beings have inherently been social creatures. For millions of years we’ve genetically evolved to survive and thrive through the “togetherness” of social groups and gatherings. Today, modern communication and technology has forever changed the landscape of our human interaction, and as such, we often decline without this type of meaningful personal contact. Today’s highly individualistic, digitally remote, and material driven culture is now challenging all of this, as we turn to science to unlock the mysteries of human connection and wellness in a digitally connected world.” I believe there is business opportunity in doing the right thing for people and our communities. That people today, staring into their digital screens for hours at a time, interacting via Facebook or Twitter, and being drawn to every new shiny piece of tech, actually covet human connectedness. Retailers, especially food retailers, are in a unique position to deliver this powerful human experience given that people still need to eat daily and, as we’ll see later in the book, the growing connectedness between food and health and wellbeing. From a business perspective, every customer interaction, whether in the digital realm or the physical store, is vital to acquiring, growing, and retaining customers. Focusing on each individual customer forces retailers to think beyond generalizations - investing in a health and wellness program is good for my shoppers - to focus on leveraging technology to serve the individual; ‘how can I help Sasha improve her life by providing products and services contextually relevant to her?’. This involves not looking at Sasha as representative of a cohort, but - literally - building a relationship with Sasha as an individual.  Not only is the customer the only constant in today’s world of non-stop disruption, but customers are expecting, even demanding, that the world be made relevant to them. And why not? Consumers take for granted the personalization and relevancy in the digital world, and expect the same from brick & mortar retailers. An excerpt from Retail in the Age of ‘I’. Available on Amazon.com +MORE

CART Weekly Report 4/25/19

CART, Advancing Retail

AMERICA'S BIGGEST SUPERMARKET COMPANY STRUGGLES WITH ONLINE GROCERY UPHEAVAL | Wall Street Journal Gary’s Take: Two key things I would call out relative to this Kroger story by Heather Haddon from WSJ. The first is that while Kroger, like all other grocery retailers, is being challenged by the move online, has an asset few others do: Years of accurate customer purchase data. That data is the fuel for helping Kroger understand their customers and powering up more efficient customer growth and retention. While Kroger does a good job with personalization, they can always do better, especially leveraging the latest AI and machine learning approaches. The second call out: while Kroger is working to innovate at a growing pace, they are resource-challenged to deploy new tech like their digital shelf edge solution fast enough. If a Kroger with their resources is having a tough time, it makes you wonder about the future of the regional and independent retailers. HOW GROCERY RETAILERS CAN REINVENT THEIR LOYALTY PROGRAMS | Progressive Grocer  Gary’s Take: So this article on retailers reinventing their loyalty programs fails to understand what retail loyalty programs are all about… DATA. Sure, the value proposition is important - points, fuel rewards, 2-tier pricing, etc. - that’s what drives shopper enrollment and participation. But the author is suggesting that retailers can be successful by dropping traditional loyalty and concentrating on customer service and developing a unique niche like a Trader Joe. In a world of consumer expectation for personalization and contextual relevancy, customer data is not optional. Just having great service or a unique product niche is not enough. Its all about data - just ask Kroger, Amazon, and many others. Retailers without data will be increasingly challenged to remain relevant in the Age of ‘I’, as the world is increasingly tailored to each of us individually. WILL AMERICA’S LOVE FOR COUPONS EVER DIE? | RetailWire Sterling’s Take: It’s worth looking at the whole experience not just the paper coupons; there’s a cycle of distribution and redemption that’s sometimes just easier with paper. Digital has a little work to do. I don’t think consumers “want” paper coupons — they just accept them as a known, simple experience. Separately, Valassis conducting a paper coupon survey is kind of like cigarette companies funding cigarette studies in the ’50s and early ’60s :). IS AI’s IMPACT ON DEMAND FORECASTING MORE HYPE THAN REALITY | RetailWire Sterling’s Take: AI will significantly transform most aspects of our lives. By 2045 (or so) a $1,000 USD processor will buy you the processing power equivalent to all human beings alive — about 9 billion people. It’s hard to fathom the kind of impact that’s going to have on our businesses or our lives; however, I imagine shoring up at 32% forecasting error will be positively impacted sooner than later. HOW TO FIX CORPORATE TECH STRATEGY | Innovation Excellence Sterling’s Take: There is no silver bullet to ensure a company commercializes its next great technology, product or service. Key disruption to current processes can significantly improve the odds because it’s about the people and about the culture. Ensuring connectedness, simplifying analysis, and increasing agility will help any company better invest its resources as it tries to invent the future. FEATURED BLOG OF THE WEEK:  4 WAYS AUGMENTED REALITY IS REDEFINING THE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE by Alexa Marino, Glance Creative HAPPENINGS COMMERCE IN THE CONSUMER AGE: HOW HUMANITY AND TECHNOLOGY COME TOGETHER TO CREATE A NEW VISION FOR RETAIL - Criteo Commerce Forum May 9, 2019  CREATING ROI IN THE FUTURE OF AR/VR IN RETAIL: HOW RETAILERS ARE USING VR/AR TO ACHIEVE GROWTH, PROFITABILITY, AND CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE GOALS - May 14, 2019 Questions? Contact Retail and eCommerce Committee Event Co-Chair, Sterling Hawkins via email:sterling.hawkins@advancingretail.org DISRUPTIVE LEADERSHIP & THE SELFCARE REVOLUTION​, Boston Immersion Event  Apply to present at Retail Tomorrow Labs: Boston - Applications due June 15th, 2019 Full Agenda Get on the Inside - CART Community FOR RETAILERS>> Proven programs to advance your business FOR SOLUTIONS>>Your growth engine into retail 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.  VIEW ALL SOLUTIONS HERE  CONTACT US TELL ME HOW TO GET MY SOLUTION ADDED TO CART Get the CART Weekly Report delivered to your inbox. Sign up here +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

CART Weekly Report 2/21/19

CART, Advancing Retail

What is your CLV Score? | Fox 5 Atlanta Gary’s Take: Customer Lifetime Value is the way retailers can measure the effectiveness of their efforts to acquire, grow, and retain customers. Daniel is speaking at the CART Event, Sunday, Feb. 24 at 1pm, kicking off the NGA Show, where I'm releasing my new book, Retail in the Age of 'i'. CLV is one of the tools retailers can use to keep score as retailers embark into the future. Hope to see you in San Diego! Grocers Aim to Capture More Advertising Dollars from CPG’s | Grocery Dive Gary’s Take: It's easy to understand retailers chasing after incremental revenue streams such as that offered by digital ad spending from CPG brand manufacturers. But, in an age of personalization, every customer engagement - especially digital engagement - needs to be contextually relevant to to the individual customer. Every interaction can impact, positively or negatively, the lifetime value of that customer. Getting ads on my mobile for brands that are only mildly relevant, or worse, completely irrelevant to me, are not going to help maintain my loyalty. Retailers have a long history of chasing CPG marketing funds instead of focusing on their customers. Let's hope this is not another repeat. 15 Mind Blowing Stats about Mobile | CMO.com Gary’s Take: The importance of mobile to the retail industry continues to grow as already a third of consumers have used mobile AR, app download and use continues to explode, and 5G connectivity is poised to radically transform and disrupt areas as yet unimagined by retailers and retail marketers. Retailers too often look at having a mobile app as just another item to check off on their to-do list, giving short shrift to the importance of user experience and capability. Mobile is the nexus of the physical and digital worlds of retail converging, opening the door to new customer services and experiences.  Retail in the Age of ‘I’ - A New World View for the Retail Industry | by Gary Hawkins now available on Amazon Gary’s Take: Retail needs a way to bring order to the chaos of innovation as it disrupts nearly every activity across the supply chain, a beacon to fix upon and navigate through the growing storm. That beacon is the customer. And not just ‘the customer’ generically, but each individual customer you have shopping with you. As we proceed along the ever-rising growth curve of technology, five-year business plans become less and less reliable as we increasingly don’t know what what’s coming next. But there remains one constant in retail: The customer. Learn more about Retail in the Age of 'i' in my new book and by coming to the CART Event at the NGA Show 2019 this Sunday, Feb. 24, in San Diego. Everyone attending will receive a free digital copy of the book! Look forward to seeing you there! Suggested Reading:  Kroger, Microsoft partner on retail-as-a service platform | Supermarket News Shoptalk Presents 75 Ways Retail Will Change in the Next Decade | Zia Daniell Wigder, Chief Global Content Officer at Shoptalk and Co-Founder at GroceryShop Featured Blog of the Week:   INDEPENDENT GROCERS: THRIVING IN UNCERTAIN TIMES Guest blog by Venu Gopalakrishnan, Founder and Global CEO of Litmus7 Systems Consulting RETAIL TOMORROW LABS: Los Angeles - Apply to Present  We help incubate ideas, concepts, products, services and other solutions with our community of retailers, brands, suppliers, innovators and other thought leaders to improve the overall shop ping experience for the consumer.  Join us for the Retail Tomorrow LA Lab* during the Retail Tomorrow Los Angeles Event on March 21st. We're bringing together a highly exclusive group of 40+ retailers and brands. You'll have 10-15 minutes to present 1 on 1.  *fees apply +MORE

Litmus7 Ecommerce Acceleration Program (LEAP)

Litmus7 Systems Consulting

Litmus7 is a first ever, grow together technology venture capitalist partnership model that enables access to technology at no cost for aspiring and emerging retailers, so that their businesses get fast tracked to the next level and digital revenues are accelerated. +MORE

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INDEPENDENT GROCERS: THRIVING IN UNCERTAIN TIMES

Venu Gopalakrishnan, Founder and Global CEO, Litmus7 Systems Consulting.

There is this independent, silent yet powerful grocery segment awaiting massive disruption. The addressable market size 25% OF THE RETAIL GROCERY INDUSTRY SALES $131 BILLION IN ANNUAL SALES 1% OF THE UNITED STATES’ GDP *Source NGA annual report 2018 Question is how prepared are they to embrace the future with a smile? In the past, the wars for power and trade on land got small nations to unite and defend themselves. Now those wars are being fought in the invisible digital space; in order to survive, a purpose-driven consolidation of like-minded business is inevitable. The wars, which will be fought in these invisible spaces today, will become far more intense tomorrow! It’s time to get the act ‘together’. The territorial understanding The intelligence of today’s consumers will be exponentially superseded by the future consumer’s intelligence and awareness levels. In this new age of total consumer awareness, TRUST and GENUINENESS are going to be a scarce commodity. Consumers of the future will be much more sensitive to their health than today. To cite an example,Thanksgiving 2018 witnessed the sale of large-sized Turkey going down by 8.3% from previous year's sales, whereas Toms’ went up by 6.5%. One of the key reasons cited is that people have become more informed about industrial farming;hence they're a little turned off by practices like antibiotics and caging necessary to produce a 30-lb Turkey. So, the point is, the industry will see more responsible consumers than their predecessors. To illustrate the point about trust, consider this: I have Amazon Prime on my phone, I also have a Safeway and Traders Joe's within a mile, but I prefer Traders Joe’s despite the fact that they are totally ignorant about both the conventional digital conveniences and traditional loyalty programs. I go there because I trust them, I go there because I get to feel their value is rooted in their efforts to ensure the right food for the right people and the fact that they’ve managed to bring enough joy to the faces of their store agents. Understanding the threat dimensions for Independent Retailers 1. Consolidation of business: Amazon, Walmart, and Kroger will continue to increase their market shares, forcing pressure on independent business. 2. The likes of Instacarts who shields brands from consumers and such intermediaries themselves are susceptible to consolidation. 3. Lack of preparation and response from independent supermarkets to embrace the emerging digital future of retailing Preparing for the uncertain times (the 7 milestones) Combining the genuineness of independent retailers with the possibilities of what digital future can offer will help this unstructured segment thrive in the age of uncertain times. Here are some ways of doing it: 1. Purpose driven consolidation: Unlike the equity-based alliances, independent retailers will be collaborating on a larger purpose which has a market size of $130Bn and is the first step towards uniting the distributed segment, which the NGA can facilitate. 2. Reimagining business for frictionless retailing: a.  All business as stores b.  Delivering unified consumer experience across the consortium c.   All connected feeder businesses as services to help design business agility, way beyond any technologically advanced businesses can ever achieve. 3. Connected consumer: Connecting isolated consumers for a better cause and their health. a.  Re-visioning the purpose around‘Genuineness’ (cause and delight) and therefore establishing ‘Trust’ that can never be broken. b. Connecting the decentralized consumer community through “Farm-To-Table-Green” Loyalty Program designed specifically for driving good health programs. The NGA can lobby and influence the Congress to get those consumers capitalize their sustainability score to get discounts on their utility bills. c. Green Score (Sustainability): Driving awareness around sustainability among consumers through the Green Score. Today, only the relatively rich can afford electric cars and renewable energy and they are even given subsidy for their sustainable quotient. However, that community is probably less than 10% of the total population. The NGA can be that agent who drives the sustainability quotient to the rest of the world and become the world’s first agent to lobby and help their consumers get subsidies on utility bills for supporting farm-to-table efforts of NGA grocers. 4. Driving convenience together: a.   Businesses connecting to Instacart for delivery than consumers choosing them b.   “You Won’t Run Out of Stock”! Grocers know what their consumers bought and have the ability to track and replenish their home inventory c.     Always delivering convenience ahead of industry 5. Value beyond grocery. Beyond delivering grocery, help consumers with insights into their lifestyle through the following services: a.  Dietary check b.  Food budget check c.   Sustainability score d.   Subscribe to events and meet-ups 6. OneSystem® model to drive efficiency: Forget the cost of running a digital platform; long back, businesses used to build systems right from scratch, but today it is more around COTS applications and SAS models. All the systems were designed and built primarily to play around with the intelligence of consumer data and product data. But in the future, what if such information transcends to become the basic right of every business? What if brands and retailers can access such information from a common platform? Today, independent grocers can bring that future closer to them by on-boarding to a one system model, which is managed through a shared OPEX pool, essentially helping them to secure a Digital future more powerful than amazon. 7. ConsumerX (Intelligent Consumer): Delivering extreme consumer experience by converting today’s transactional consumer into an intelligent one. State of intelligence designed around intents, relationships, historical transactions and product knowledge.  Shift 'right', to think one step ahead of the curve to understand ConsumerX. The demographic shifts a) The shift to ever-smaller average household size. The 2010 census showed the average US household size at 2.58 inhabitants; it is believed that number has gone down since.  b) Ethnic mix and its impact on food choices  Conscious shift  a) At upper income and educational levels – to a greater interest and awareness of health, food quality, and food provenance. b) Shift in internet shopping - with its demands for O2O capabilities such as BOPUS and BOSFS Shift towards TRUST a) Protection of data.  b) Authenticity of products/services/value proposition.  c) Consistency of operational delivery. Aligning with these 7 milestones or more around those lines can save the genuine independent grocers to thrive in the future. So what does it all mean? If all of these independent retailers stand united to deliver 'one experience' across multiple channels, we are talking about 21000 stores and $131 billion overall business forming 25% of United States' grocery market! Does it not stand qualified to challenge the biggies?  If yesterday was all about the size, tomorrow would be all about intelligence. But the people have always loved peace and compassion! Care for them and they will protect you and your business! All businesses flourish when consumers love a brand or service! The NGA can help independent grocers enter the new age with a smile.  Embracing the models designed for the intelligence of a consumer in the 1960’s won’t help win the hearts of consumers of the future. Stand united for a Grocery Revolution. Let your consumers adore you and protect you. +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

Litmus7

Litmus7

Our Retail Services  The most sophisticated retailers in the world trust our technology services to power up their mission critical systems.  Digital Commerce Litmus7 specializes in setup, customizing and upgrading of eCommerce Platforms such as ATG, Oracle Commerce and IBM Sterling Commerce. We provide an end to end service across all systems and technologies required to operate a high performing retail business.  Services Implementation Retailers today are dependent on an ever growing number of inter-dependent services. Litmus7 excels in making sure that the highest quality and performance is maintained as our customers scale.  High-End Engineering As more and more retailers are becoming technology companies that are in the business of retail, our services are allowing their teams to develop and deploy faster than ever. Infrastructure Services We help some of the world's largest and most stable eCommerce websites achieve %99.999 up-time and support billions of visitors around the world.  Consulting & Research We hire the best experts from all disciplines of retailers. Their wide experience allows us to look at a customer's business and potential from all angles, to conduct root cause analysis as well as identify growth opportunities.  User Journey & Experience We take great pleasure creating the best and most innovative user experiences in the world and tracking how they increase our customer's conversions as well as shopper satisfaction.   +MORE

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Pseudo Customer Centricity: Fool’s Gold

Gary Hawkins on Winsight Grocery Business, CART

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

The Top Five Ways Retailers Benefit from Industry Trade Shows

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

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

NGA Show 2019: The Epicenter of Grocery Industry Innovation

CART, Advancing Retail

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

Technology's Profound Impact on the Supermarket Industry

Peter Larkin, President & CEO, National Grocers Association

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

Locai Solutions

Locai Solutions Inc

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

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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

Profectus USA

Profectus Group US

Profectus is an international technology and services company that provides leading technologies for rebate and deal management, contract compliance and accounts payable audits. The niche technology is designed to create transaction certainty and help businesses make better decisions. The Profectus USA team supports many industry verticals including grocery and foodservice wholesalers, grocery and clothing retailers, financial institutions, mining and many more. Our technology provides a road map for your success! RDM (Rebate & Deal management)  The Rebate Management system is designed for retailers, wholesalers and large organisations and delivers best practice rebate and deal management, resulting in better returns for business.​ The Rebate Management system is a secure web-based system that stores unlimited rebate and deal agreements.​ The Rebate Management system guarantees accurate rebate calculation, journal creation and claiming.​ Clients and their suppliers value the transparency of a shared web system where there is clarity on all of the details related to rebates.​ In addition, the Rebate Management system creates insights and opportunities to generate increased revenue.​  CCS (Contract Compliance Software)  The Contract Compliance (CC) system enables a full compliance framework to identify overcharges or over payments prior or post payment. It ensures contract terms originally negotiated for indirect/ GNFR (Goods Not For Resale) expenses or key contracts actually occur.​ The CC system is a secure web-based and centralized contract management system providing secure visibility of all critical contract terms.​ The CC system automates the detailed cost checking of invoices; supplier queries workflow and transaction approval process with the click of a button.​ In addition, CC creates insights and opportunities to reduce spend and improve contract terms.  Merchandise / Terms Audits  Every merchandise, sales, AP transaction and trading term agreement is audited for accuracy. The Merchandise Audits provide a detailed review of your rebate and deal agreements against claims and transaction data to identify under-claimed rebate and deal income.  Accounts Payable Audits  Every AP transaction is audited for accuracy by Profectus technologies and the audit team. The Accounts Payable audit will identify and recover duplicate and over payments, GST processing errors and aged vendor statement credits.  Contract Compliance Audits  Contract Compliance audits identify all rate errors and service type errors within invoices. Contract Compliance Audits enable clients to have full compliance framework to check invoices at line item level against agreed contract terms to identify overcharges or over payments prior or post payment. +MORE

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Retail Strategy Experts U. S. & Canada

Better Sales & Brand Management Group

PLANNING Planning for a market in the U.S. or Canada—regional or national—requires a methodical approach. Multiple elements come into play, from product to packaging, pricing and promotion. The right partners are crucial and a roll-out plan that is fiscally responsible is essential STRATEGY The key to success is a sound go-to-market strategy. We work with you to define your goals, priorities and expectations. We then recommend the best course of action based on resources and opportunities. All retail placements are backed with consumer marketing strategies to deliver sales results. BRAND MANAGEMENT Understanding the distribution and retail landscape while implementing proven brand management techniques only comes with years of hands-on experience and the right partners. We eliminate the learning curve and costly mistakes by providing a comprehensive service. Positioning – brand strategy and pricing Analysis – to decide on best distribution model Territory Management – Regional / National US and Canada Distribution Channels – set up and manage Broker Networks – set up and manage Corporate Accounts – set up and manage Sales Support – set up and manage sales teams/demos Reporting – setting goals and monthly reporting PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT Brand Concepts  We Help brands clarify & Define: A unique brand vision Positioning in the current marketplace Key Messages through ingredient stories Demographic of target audiences Formulation Development Custom formulations are developed specifically to fit the brands marketing concepts and target the desired demographic. We always keep a critical eye on budgeting and timelines throughout the process, providing frequent tracking reports of the project for your review. Specialized Formulation Development Services Include: Natural & Organic Formulations  Sophisticated, efficacious, and original formulas for the personal care industry Full Stability and compatibility testing services Wide range of ingredient claim information USDA Organic and Eco-cert Certified Cosmetic Ingredients Proprietary natural fragrances for unique, custom formulations Internationally compliant formulations Packaging Development We bring innovation and experience to cosmetic product packaging and design, key components  to the success of your brand. Our knowledgeable, experienced professional team can assist in coordinating all aspects of the development and sourcing process, creating a seamless collaboration between packaging design, formulation and functionality.  We have a strong global network of packaging suppliers, which enables us to help brands source the packaging of their choice. If we are unable to find the exact packaging to meet the needs of the brand, we develop customized packaging solutions. Strategic Planning for Timelines and Product Launches When taking the brand/product rom development to market, we develop a strategic plan, budget and timeline to achieve your goal launch date.   REGULATORY SERVICES Whether you are looking for assistance in becoming compliant in the United States and or Canada, Better Sales & Brand Managment Group can help. United States OTC Regulatory Compliance FDA Compliance Ingredient List Quantitative qualitative Prop 65 compliance Claims Review Dossiers Cosmetic Product Safety Assessments (EC) 1223/2009 Annex I, Part A and Part B EU Regulatory Compliance 1223/2009 EU Regulation Packaging Labeling: Claims & Compliance - Domestic & International INCI (International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients) Ingredient Labeling Claims Substantiation - Review packaging verbiage for compliance Canada Cosmetic Registration Natural Health Product  Drug Identification Number LOGISTICS We are specialists in logistics, calculating every detail to provide customized service to our clients with a reliable consistent relationship. Skilled in U.S. and Canadian Order Fulfillment Services, working with our partners servicing all classes of trade we are able to deliver seamless operational expertise. Fulfillment Pick and Pack Light Assembly Mailing services Cross Docking Same Day Shipping Inventory Management  Web tracking EDI set up and Management Order Processing Accounts Receivable/Payable Returned goods processing    Warehousing  We can organize central warehousing, establishing a base of business in the US and or Canada and provide state of the art facilities for all of our clients warehousing needs  +MORE

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Architecture + Design Services

api(+)

api(+)’s design team provides creative branding services for corporations requiring new prototype concepts and site adaptation services for those with existing store designs who require efficient solutions and informed decision making. Our approach is strategically driven, through researching and analyzing target consumers and integrating the competitive market environment into the design process. Our ongoing relationships with a multitude of retailers are characterized as mutually beneficial value added, allowing marketing, store planning and real estate to test new ideas while ensuring continuity in project management and image statement … critical components in today’s competitive marketing environment. +MORE

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