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

Susan Galer , Forbes SAP voice

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

Grocery is Going Digital. The Time is Now.

CART

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

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BoodsKapper Retail bot

Boodskapper

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

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Crowdsourced Picking&Delivery for eCommerce

ReadyCart.co

(2)

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

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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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Shopper Media Network

PlaceWise Media

(1)

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

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Freshop

Freshop

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

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Mobile Checkout

FutureProof Retail

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

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GrocerKey

GrocerKey

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

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CART Weekly Report 4/11/19

CART, Advancing Retail

SURVEY: GROCERY STORES NEED TO ‘ENTER THE MODERN AGE’ | Supermarket News Gary’s Take: Fascinating survey that finds 51% of shoppers believe if supermarkets don’t ‘enter the modern age’ people will find other ways to buy food. Consumers read about new innovation in shopping nearly every day in the news - from the Amazon Go store to automated delivery vehicles. It is no wonder that shoppers experience a disconnect between what they read about and experience with Amazon and their local grocery store. Many supermarket companies are trying to innovate but simply are challenged to move fast enough. As the pace of innovation grows exponentially, change is occurring at an increasing rate, and traditional retailers are having a tougher time keeping up. And yet, as the survey calls out, they must. WALMART AND GOOGLE FORGE VOICE ORDER ALLIANCE TO BATTLE AMAZON | ZDNet Gary’s Take: Voice based commerce is poised to grow fast with millions of Amazon Alexa devices already in homes and Google coming on fast, especially with its recently announced partnership with Walmart. Walmarts voice ordering system will work across more than one billion Walmart Assistant devices. Digital commerce continues to advance quickly while many supermarket retailers are still working to get online. The innovation gap continues to grow. 18 RETAILERS WITH THE BEST LOYALTY PROGRAMS | Business Insider Gary's Take: So here's a list of the top 18 retail loyalty programs as compiled by Business Insider... and there is not one supermarket retailer on the list. At a time when shoppers expect, even demand, marketing relevancy, supermarket retailers are missing in action. Customer identified purchase data provided by loyalty programs is the fuel for marketing personalization and yet 27 of the top 50 supermarket retailers lack loyalty and the resulting data. Yes, there's a path to personalization via eCommerce and other digital engagement, but it is a much slower path to meaningful levels and business impact. Supermarket retailers need to focus on digital customer engagement and utilize new innovative technologies to provide new services and experiences to their customers. Retail today is powered by data, customer data, and grocery retail needs to get moving.  SHOULD UNIFORM PRICING BE THE NORM FOR LARGE CHAINS? | Retail Wire Sterling’s Take: As soon as we all pay the same for airline tickets and credit card interest rates we should look at generalized pricing. Different customers have different economic value and personalization customizes that. There are technological and operational kinks at some retailers that reduce benefits, but that doesn’t mean scrap the program. We should be looking at how to improve it or use technology differently. FEATURED BLOG OF THE WEEK:  GROW REVENUES USING THESE DIGITAL STRATEGIES by Yehudis Milchtein, Senior Account Manager, Harvesting Media HAPPENINGS 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 - 2pm EST  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 SPRING 2019 RETAIL INNOVATION PITCH EVENT, hosted virtually on May 23, 2019 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   HOW CART WORKS CONTACT US     TELL ME HOW TO GET MY SOLUTION ADDED TO CART +MORE

Grow Revenues Using These Digital Strategies

Yehudis Milchtein, Senior Account Manager, Harvesting Media

Digitally savvy businesses are becoming the norm in the retail world. More and more companies are taking advantage of the untold benefits of digital marketing- there’s no way to argue with the results. Nowadays, taking control of your online presence is key to staying ahead and keeping up with your competition. There are a plethora of platforms to choose from, each optimal for running different types of campaigns or being used for a variety of purposes. Facebook, Instagram, Google My Business and other platforms are all opportunities for developing relationships with shoppers in your area. The potential for launching campaigns that make a real impact on your business has grown tremendously over the past few years. Any and every message you want your customers to see - whether it's coupons, discounts, events, or new products - becomes manageable. Customers want to hear from you and stay up to date with the latest store happenings. What can you do to make that a reality? Google My Business: Your Business can't afford to ignore Google. From the immediate benefits like ranking higher in search results to increasing trust with potential customers, claiming and updating your Google My Business profile is integral to establishing a digital presence. Show customers and potential shoppers that you’re serious about their satisfaction and that you value their feedback by monitoring and responding to reviews. For nearly 9 in 10 consumers, an online review is as important as a personal recommendation. 90% of customers read online reviews before visiting a business. Not sure how to get started? Speak to the team at Harvesting Media about how to claim your Google My Business page, respond to reviews, receive weekly reports and more. Facebook: As the #1 social media platform used by businesses, Facebook is an exceptional place to engage and interact with current and potential customers. Instantly share updates with thousands of people and encourage new shoppers to visit by implementing targeted coupon campaigns. Opening a Facebook page takes 5 minutes, and posting on update a week is an excellent start. Having a Facebook page also gives your customers a platform to leave reviews, recommendations, and reach out via Messenger with questions about your products. Ready to enhance your Facebook page and increase revenues with tracked results? Give us a call or send us an email , we’d love to talk. Instagram: Developing a personal relationship with customers and making your business more relatable has never been simpler. Set up your Instagram account and share gorgeous photos with the click of a button. Grow your Instagram account by partnering with influencers or running contests that encourage fans to follow and share your content. Excite potential shoppers by utilizing the visual aspect of Instagram- share stories with hacks, tips, and more on your page. Looking for content that captures the most popular and beloved aspects of your business? Want to lean on a capable team that does this for you? Reach out to our graphics team today. Weekly Newsletter: Getting into your customers’ inbox on a weekly basis is an extremely effective way to stay relevant and encourage customers to shop at your store again. Emails have the highest coupon conversion rates and you could use that to your advantage as you collect info from customers in-store and on social media. Use forms in-store or online to gather email addresses quickly and efficiently. Want to discuss coupon campaigns that increase basket sizes? That’s our bread and butter. Properly marketing your store can feel a tad bit overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! Begin with the basics by creating and consistently updating your digital channels. Once you start establishing your digital presence, partner with us to discover new channels and methods that can be implemented. Supermarkets are regularly leaning on outside help to facilitate their marketing, while the retailer does what it does best: running a supermarket. Partnering with a team of people whose job it is to manage the digital marketing component for a retailer is what more and more independents are doing. And it makes sense. Don’t guess your way through campaigns; rely on our proven methods to increase your revenues. Ready to talk? Reach out today and learn what you could be doing to multiply your sales. Let’s grow. +MORE

Personalization and Relevancy Can Be a Game Changer for Independents

David Kiehle, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Smart.Market

Independent grocers are increasingly aware of the impact of industry disruption. These retailers are facing a new landscape marked by emerging technologies, quickly changing consumer behaviors, and a wide range of traditional and nontraditional competitors building scale through acquisitions and organic growth. This new environment creates challenges across the independents’ business, and a case in point is in marketing. Independents and their wholesalers are often lacking in resources and expertise. They typically don’t have big marketing budgets. Many don’t operate loyalty marketing programs. Most are without the teams of data analysts more typical of bigger chains. Some are still tied to weekly circulars that deliver the same offers across an entire market to an eroding base of newspaper subscribers. How can independent retailers compete in this new environment with effective marketing resources and strategies? Independents are expert at being relevant for their individual customer bases. However, increasingly they need to be on-target not just for their market as a whole, but for each household and each customer in that market. This requires a more sophisticated personalized approach to coupons and other offers, supported by technology. Independents often don’t know the best ways to get started down that path. There are numerous methods to embracing personalized marketing, some effective, some not so effective. These employ a range of platforms, from digital to print. Independents need to ensure that a personalization strategy is really personal. That means it needs to be targeted to individual households and customers, rather than being merely a segmentation approach that addresses large groups of shoppers. One of the most effective and cost-efficient personalization strategies is leveraging direct mail, a seemingly mature form of retail marketing, that can be transformed through data-driven personalization techniques to drive profits and traffic. Recent research from the Data & Marketing Association (DMA) shows personalized direct mail campaigns can increase ROI from three to 10 times compared to traditional strategies. Ironically, personalizing direct mail often results in a hybrid approach between print and digital. It’s actually digitally-driven print marketing. This approach leverages the best of print and digital through a state-of-the-art process called personalized variable direct mail. It not only outperforms traditional campaigns, but consistently outpaces online digital efforts as well. The result can be a game changer for independent grocers. Here are five ways this kind of personalization can transform marketing for independents. 1-Accelerate Response Rates: Personalized variable direct mail can deliver double-digit response rates consistently, which is markedly higher than traditional direct mail. 2-Capture Performance Analytics: A personalized data-driven program should be able to provide back-end analytics to measure scores of events across a marketing calendar. Ideally a retailer should be able to leverage a database to match consumer purchasing habits back to the individual household level for each store location. This enables the retailer to learn more about its current customers by location and identify others that have similar characteristics and behaviors. 3-Blunt Competitor Strategies: Personalized variable direct mail can be effective in battling a range of competitors, from big chains to hard discounters. Making use of this strategy can help to neutralize new market entries by competitors while at the same time rewarding valued repeat shoppers. 4-Redefine Trade Areas: This personalized approach helps to establish and grow a primary trade area. It’s common to achieve material increases in unique shoppers with each campaign. 5-Engage with Customers: The point of a personalized program is to connect directly with individual customers and households to boost basket sizes. It’s also geared to supporting new customer acquisition by understanding the similarities your core shoppers have with those who are not currently your customers. Marketing pieces can be customized for a wide range of demographics and other attributes to boost performance. This strategy can be particularly effective in gaining the loyalty of millennial shoppers, who are famously resistant to brand loyalty. +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

Harvesting Media

Harvesting Media

Email Marketing Text-Message Marketing Customer Data Acquision Digital Displays In-Store Activations Content Development Social Media Management Hyper-Targeted Paid Campaigns Digital Data Analysis Video Production Ecommerce Optimization Competitive Reporting Online Review Management Creative Digital Design Strategic Initiatives Local Search Website Management Print Media (If You Make Us) +MORE

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ShopAdvizor, Join the new shopping experience!

Diego Chorny, CEO, ShopAdvizor

ShopAdvizor, the first collaborative community that reinvents the shopping experience by bringing value to consumers, retailers and brands, while generating double-digit sales increases  The last decade has witnessed heavy changes related to our shopping experience, where the consumer demands constantly more: ratings & reviews, rich content and relevant information in order to make the right decision. Hotels, restaurants, drivers ... almost everything is analyzed and rated by the user. ShopAdvizor understood that specific new need for the consumer goods industry and thus, developed an innovative collaborative model. Our French market has been our case of success, where ShopAdvizor already has more than 1,000,000 users and 3,500 brands participating, with Carrefour as a strategic partner. Uruguay was recently launched and 2% of the households are already members, while US, México and Spain are the next markets in the expansion plan. What is ShopAdvizor? It’s the first community where consumers, retailers and brands interact, generating benefits for all 3 stakeholders. ShopAdvizor allows consumers to try out millions of products for free -choosing them online and picking them up at stores- in exchange for their opinion and the generation of content and information for brands and retailers. Our app also allows shoppers to verify all needed information in order to make better purchase decisions. In ShopAdvizor everybody wins • Consumers try out millions of products for free in exchange for their opinion, and they save up to 30% in their purchases. In addition, ShopAdvizor processes data generated by consumers, retailers, brands and external sources to provide the consumer the best product information. Ratings & reviews, rich content, nutritional information decoded and promotional benefits allows consumers to have an improved shopping experience. • Retailers and Brands improve the relationship, fidelity and knowledge of their consumers along with a double-digit sales increase. The customer data ShopAdvizor processes, allows as to reach the consumers at the right moment with the right message. A unique community that provides solutions to real challenges: ShopAdvizor builds a closer relationship between the three parties by delivering different solutions under one collaborative platform: Ratings & Reviews - Content marketing: We have generated millions of certified ratings and reviews within the CPG industry that helps retailers and brands speed up sales, using them in all omnichannel touchpoints. We can nurture your platforms with recipes, videos and tips created by a trustworthy community. Targeted and discount coupons: ShopAdvizor gives retailers and brands access to Big Data regarding shopping and consumption behavior in order to deeply understand consumer and shopper needs and be able to deliver customized and targeted promotions and coupons. Online Market Research: Millions of interviews allows us to help you on shopper understanding in an efficient and disruptive model that allows you to connect directly with your desire target. Advertising: Manufacturers and retailers have also the possibility to communicate directly in the news feed of their customers at the right moment, offering promotions and valuable information to increase sales. It allows to pinpoint potential buyers who are considering your product and help you build highly accurate campaigns. How can retailers join the community? Is it easy? Can small retailers afford it? As a collaborative community every retailer can join, and they will be only charged for the sales the community generates. Totally risk-free! No matter the size, you will always play an important part and will have guaranteed results. ShopAdvizor France relevant information: • +1,000,000 users and 3,500 brands are already participating in the ecosystem. • With more than 12,000,000 million ratings and reviews, and rich content, ShopAdvizor has become the biggest source of consumer goods information in France. • Alexa shows the engagement level of ShopAdvizor users is slightly below Facebook but higher than Instagram, Twitter or any ecommerce of groceries retailers. • Awards: o HEC and Netexplo Observatory 2014: Finalist for most innovative initiative in France: Digital and Social Marketing. o ESOMAR: Case selected for the world congress 2014 o LSA France: Innovation Award in Marketing 2015 (France). • Selected among the 100 best of Spain, ShopAdvizor went to the conquest of Silicon Valley and was chosen by the Web Summit and the NRF Retail's Big Show to be part of its exclusive startups zone. Looking forward to The NGA Show this February. ShopAdvizor confirms its presence within the Center for Advancing Retail & Technology (CART) innovation section, booth 815. +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

The Key to Driving Online Grocery Adoption

Sylvain Perrier, President and CEO, Mercatus

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

Pseudo Customer Centricity: Fool’s Gold

Gary Hawkins on Winsight Grocery Business, CART

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

The Top Five Ways Retailers Benefit from Industry Trade Shows

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

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

NGA Show 2019: The Epicenter of Grocery Industry Innovation

CART, Advancing Retail

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

Technology's Profound Impact on the Supermarket Industry

Peter Larkin, President & CEO, National Grocers Association

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

ShopAdvizor

ShopAdvizor

Helping consumers to save money, improve an omnichannel shopping experience and allowing retailers and brands to improve their relationship with consumers. How to achieve all these objectives under one single company?  ShopAdvizor tries to satisfy these needs and cover these problems by launching the first collaborative community for the consumer goods that interconnects consumers, brands and retailers.  A community that creates a closer relationship between the three parties by delivering 6 main products and services; Content marketing:  Use certified ratings and reviews generated by members of our community who have tested your products. They influence on the choice of products and generates confidence as well as increases the credibility of consumers comments in relation to brand advertising. Allows the development of a social link with your consumers by allowing them to create content for your brands and products by activating their voice. Online Market Research: Our collaborative model allows us to develop online surveys providing brands with valuable data helping them to reach their business challenges. Targeted and discount coupons                ShopAdvizor gives retailers and brands access to Big Data regarding shopping and consumption behavior in order  to deeply understand consumer and shopper needs and be able to deliver customized and targeted promotions and coupons. Advertising Manufacturers and retailers have also the possibility to communicate directly in the wall of their customers in the right moment, offering promotions and valuable information to increase sales. It allows to pinpoint potential buyers who are considering your product and help you build highly accurate campaigns. +MORE

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Social Media: The neglected customer service department

Charlie Luck, Display and Instagram Marketer at Cisco

In today’s perpetually connected world it is more natural to contact a brand via social media than the traditional phone call. The instant nature of all social media platforms beats email and sometimes even phone calls. No customer enjoys being put on hold! Knowing that they can tweet a query or complaint and receive a reply or resolution a few minutes later will give customers plenty of peace of mind. 1. Address the Complaints Quickly! When a customer complains about you on social media, it’s important that you respond, and respond promptly. Even if you can’t immediately fix the issue, it’s great to acknowledge the customer and their problem. A simple “thanks for the feedback, we will work to resolve this issue as soon as possible” can go a long way with a disappointed client.  Customers love to feel seen and heard. There is nothing worse than waiting forever for a response from a company when you have a problem with a product that you bought from them. People get angry when they feel that they have wasted their hard-earned money. If you respond quickly and positively to complaints on social media, you may be able to turn a disgruntled customer into a loyal and raving one with just a minute of your time.  A customer willing to take their time to bash a company through social media also has great potential to gush about that very same company if their experience is turned into a positive one. Turning a sour customer situation around is easy when a company is regularly active in responding to their customers’ complaints on social media. The company also can showcase their superb customer service skills to the rest of the world when quickly addressing customer complaints.  2. Entertain or Inform!  Social media should be eye-catching, and overall, fun. Scrolling mindlessly down the timeline is a difficult reflex to break for most social media users. You need to arrest that mindless, endless scrolling of the Instagram or Twitter feed with interesting, challenging or even controversial content. The more creative you are with advertising, the better.  Funny pictures, interesting quotes, even relevant video links can capture attention from your potential customers. Posting unique messages on social media will set your brand apart from other companies that offer similar products.  A customer will remember a funny picture advertisement that made them laugh for far longer than they would a boring sales slogan. Don’t forget the power of the share. They will also be more likely to spread that funny ad and tag their friends in it--creating, even more, potential customers.  For instance, “going live” is a newer social media feature that many companies can utilize to engage their customer audience. This feature could be used to show sales in real time, to introduce members of a store team, or to showcase an event and create buzz.  Using creative hashtags or employing instagram influencers on social media to start contests can also be an effective way of getting an audience’s attention. Involving customers and starting a conversation with them online generates more views which lead to more business. Companies need to be ahead of their competition by displaying an online presence that makes their product or service more exciting and engaging.  3. Use Social Media to Educate Using social media as an educational tool and not just for advertising can bring you more customers while also answering questions that many potential customers might have about your product before they decide to purchase it.  Businesses can creatively post facts about their company as well as answers to frequently asked questions on their social media accounts. By using this strategy, you are proactively providing customer service before a customer might individually come seeking help.  Social media helps to reach a wider audience in less time than one-on-one customer service may take. Lens.com created a customer knowledge database which compiled answers to a plethora of common questions that many customers had. This proactive educational step brought them a significant increase in customer satisfaction ratings. Giving the customer more information right up front could also lead to an increase in sales (knowledge is power, after all). 4. Take Customer Suggestions While customer complaints might seem discouraging, they are a great tool for businesses to build on. A complaint is feedback that you can use to better your product. No one can improve unless they know what it is that they are doing wrong in the first place. The only way to grow as a business is to listen to what the consumer wants, and to then give them what they asked for.  When a customer posts on social media that the ice cream shop was out of their favorite flavor, the owner of that shop can apologize, and now knows to keep more of that particular flavor in stock since it’s obviously become more popular than he/she knew. Social media provides the opportunity to connect with the consumer in an immediate and convenient way.   There is hardly anyone left in the world that doesn’t own a smartphone or tablet, and everyone checks their devices on a daily basis. Checking into social media several (and sometimes hundreds) of times a day has become the normal routine for more than 50%  of the human population. By building an eye-catching and substantial social media presence, you can make your brand indispensable to the daily lives of customers in a friendly, memorable, and non-invading way that they will appreciate.  Today, most social media platforms are interactive with one another, so it is best for businesses to keep all of their social media accounts linked. Some customers may prefer Instagram to Facebook, and if a business’s posts are shared among multiple social media platforms, they will have a higher chance of reaching a larger customer base. If brands fail to recognize the marketing tool that social media has become, they will miss out on the most impactful (and often, the most cost efficient) form of advertising and customer service that is available in this day and age.  +MORE

Why You Should Consider Using Instagram as Part of Your Business Strategy

CART Team, CART

With over 1B world-wide Instagram accounts active monthly, 500M+ users active daily, and 400M+ sharing Instagram stories, it makes good business sense to include Instagram in your social media strategy, especially when you factor in that 80% of users follow at least one business account (1) With the introduction of Instagram stories, predicted to reach 1B by 2020, Instagram is moving further into longer-form content. Its introduction of Instagram Stories in August 2016 precipitated a steep rise in user growth and engagement — daily active users went from less than 20% of monthly active users in October 2016 to more than 60% in September 2017  Instagram has become an essential element of social media marketing for businesses, and a way to humanize your brand.  Whereas findings confirm Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter still tend to be more popular among the younger crowd, especially 18 to 24-year-olds, a new Pew Research Center survey finds that 35 percent of US adults use Instagram — an increase of 7 percent from 2016, so it’s not just for teens and Millennials any more — and people don’t use Instagram casually, 38% visit the site several times. It's not too late to get your business set up with Instagram, and when you do, it’s important to go about it correctly for the best result.  Initial steps like writing your bio, experimenting with the best times to post, and which hashtags to use are all important to the success of your Instagram account.  Here are a couple links with more information on getting set up to get you started: https://blog.hootsuite.com/instagram-bio-ideas-business/ https://blog.hootsuite.com/how-to-use-instagram-for-business/#howto   Instagram’s internal research (thru June 2018) https://www.forbes.com/sites/valleyvoices/2018/06/25/how-instagram-is-eating-the-world/#4cdb0c103145 (How Instagram is Eating the World) http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/ (Social Media Use in 2018) +MORE

Customer Touchpoints and the Human Experience

Gary Hawkins, CART

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

The One Technology Every Grocerant Needs to Know

Tebo Store Fixtures

Digital signage isn’t just a pretty display, it is a tool to boost sales, customer experience and more; The use of digital signage in your grocerant deli will inform and persuade customers. The use of eye-catching imagery and content will drive sales, allow you to cross promote within your store, and excite your guests. Every day more and more grocery store delis are adopting the use of digital signage and seeing the benefit from this increasingly affordable technology. In the Deli environment, this is not only a resource for customers but is a great resource to engage your employees as well. It brings your daily menu to life with promotions and specials.  Not only does this increase dwell time, it will also help your customers get to know your brand better than static boards leaving lasting impressions. The Benefits of Using Digital Signage: Remotely update menu boards with no ongoing printing or labor costs Offer service to non-English speakers Boost sales 8-22% by simply placing the screen in your deli space Reduce perceived wait time Cross promote within store Employee engagement The Deli grocerant has many challenges that digital menu boards can help solve, but the key to success is to have a clear objective for your digital menu boards. Asking yourself how to correlate to your customer base, store branding, and employee involvement are the steps necessary for a successful relationship with digital signage. Regardless of the size of your grocery stores (multiple or single locations) with the use of digital signage, it will increase the effectiveness of communication in the work environment. A little-known fact is having engaged employees there is a positive correlation to above average productivity. With a raise in productivity leads to more sales and customers walking through your doors. Bringing digital signage to your space is a great start for positive growth of your grocerant deli. +MORE

Would You Like to Delight and Inform Your Online Shoppers

John Hoyne, SYNQY Corporation

Last week, SYNQY was named as a finalist in CART’s Virtual Pitch Event. We’re among an impressive few chosen from hundreds of applications. So, who are we and what does SYNQY do for retailers? SYNQY provides a managed service for retailers to bring online shoppers rich content from manufacturers. We do that at the point of sale, which is the critical piece. To do this, we match manufacturer-branded content to the products on the retailer’s site and then pay the retailer a revenue share. If we think about what shoppers want, they’re looking for basic product information, but also rich product content. That can take the form of videos, product comparisons, as well as promotional content like new products, innovations, and in grocery, recipes and the upcoming SmartLabel content. Delivering all of this at the exact time that consumers are making buying decisions is key. It’s also very important to provide that content to the consumers on the retailer’s website because more and more consumers are going to leave and find it somewhere else – and maybe never come back. But there are numerous challenges in providing content on the retailer site, one of which is that the content typically resides with the brand and not with the retailer. In addition, the content is always changing. As a result, it’s almost impossible to keep it up-to-date.  So, what if you could crowdsource from manufacturers the content customers are looking for? And what if it wouldn’t cost you anything? And what if it would enhance the buying experience and increase product consideration and sales? And you got paid for it? Well, SYNQY can deliver on those promises. SYNQY delivers enhanced content to delight and inform the shopper. SYNQY has a proven track record in the retail space.  Tony Mercado, Marketing Development Manager, Car Electronics Sector at Kenwood said, “ The appeal of SYNQY is it allows us to give shoppers on our retailers’ websites a branded, rich media content experience that we can easily update to stay fresh and reflect our latest products and promotions.  It also keeps the shoppers on our retailer’s website, encouraging them to execute their buying decision with that retailer.” The key is that retailers deliver rich brand content at the point of sale and shoppers never leave the site.  The way this works is that the manufacturers upload their content into the SYNQY system and the retailer simply installs one line of code on their website. It takes about 10 minutes and it’s up and running. Last year, we ran a test of about 14 tier-1 CPG products and for those users who clicked on the SYNQY, we experienced a 65% increase in consideration and a 40% increase in purchases. Those are significant increases and SYNQY is definitely having a positive impact on sales.  We are working with clients in the grocery space, such as Albertsons, Safeway, Nestle, Dr. Pepper/Snapple, Unilever, WhiteWave, VONS, Randalls, PepsiCo, and Pavilions – some of the leading CPG manufacturers and retailers. With our business model, we collect fees from the brands to post their content onto a retailer’s site and then we pay the retailer a revenue share from that fee. Seems like a no-brainer for retailers. SYQNY brings the retailer an enhanced shopping experience for consumers. We increase product consideration and sales and bring a new high-margin site-monetization capability. And we do all of this at low risk, with minimal effort, and at no cost to retailers. +MORE

You Snooze, You Lose. The Time for Grocery Innovation is Now

John Hoyne, Synqy Corporation

Some grocers today are still reluctant to really commit to the online grocery experience. But if you read the headlines, you know that Amazon and Walmart are poised to gain unprecedented online grocery market share. “2017 may be the year for supermarket digital experience,” “Wal-Mart Takes Another Step Forward With Chinese E-Commerce Giant JD.com,” and “AmazonFresh drops to $14.99 per month for Prime members” are what we’re reading these days and it’s clear that online grocery is a hot and evolving market. Online grocery shopping needs to be more than just a shopping cart. That’s a start, but not a way to win. Grocers should consider the omni-channel way people want to shop and build a flexible approach to meet those needs. For example, how do grocers use content to help information-hungry millennials reading nutrition labels to look for GMO- or allergen-free products in-store or online? What about impulse buys? How are those opportunities fostered in ecommerce? Bringing relevant and persuasive content to online grocery shoppers is not just important, but imperative over time. So the options of “wait and see” or having a simple online shopping cart really aren’t options at all. Bringing branded content from manufacturers to online grocery shoppers, along with more nutritional data, and perhaps recipes or suggested products, are all ways to engage shoppers, provide better and cross-merchandising, and grow each shopping cart. This requires that grocers embrace ecommerce and make it a better consumer experience, as opposed to just an online experience. Consumers are savvier today and demand more of online retail; they are now doing the same in grocery. And with more options like AmazonFresh, Walmart and others now participating in the online grocery market, shoppers aren’t limited to local stores. If grocery chains snooze, they’ll lose for sure. +MORE

Pace of Innovation -- Shattering the Status Quo

Gary Hawkins, CART

Retailers are shellshocked by the increasing pace of technology fueled innovation that is transforming and disrupting the industry. It seems not a week goes by that we don’t read about yet another new competitor entering the grocery space or some new innovation being rolled out by an existing competitor. Case in point: Kroger’s recent announcement that it is deploying its Shop, Scan, and Bag self-shopping solution at 400+ stores. This in response to Amazon’s cashier-less Go store pilot and Walmart’s similar self-shopping solution. Supermarket retailers are challenged on several fronts relative to innovation. It is nearly impossible for a retailer to be aware of all the new innovation entering the market. As an example, CART reviews an estimated 100 new solutions each month. Beyond awareness though is the challenge of deciding what areas to focus on (supply chain, distribution, marketing, store operations, etc.) and deciding what specific solution to pilot. And then having to decide what new capabilities to deploy across operating stores. Having efficient operations, quality foods, and great pricing and service is simply the cost of entry to supermarket retail. The new battleground is innovation. This is a new world for retailers to navigate. As an example, we see too many retailers implementing different digital capabilities in a piecemeal fashion rather than working towards a cohesive and comprehensive platform. The self-shopping capability mentioned earlier is a great example. Some retailers are trying to implement this kind of capability through a third-party app or a separate app rather than bundling it into one mobile app for their customers. Shoppers are after an omni-channel, seamless experience, not being forced to interact with different apps or systems to do business with a retailer. CART is here to help. We’re able to leverage our strong retail experience, industry knowledge, and unique insight to new capabilities and innovation flowing into the market to help retailers understand where they are today relative to their competitors and best-in-class retailers. Developing an innovation roadmap is important to help in prioritizing what new innovation to focus on and to create a foundation capable of adapting to new capabilities and technologies as they come into the market. +MORE

Making Online Grocery Easy and Affordable for Every Grocer

Josh Ray, ShopHero

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

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