CART Weekly Report 7/11/19
CART, Advancing Retail
Gary’s Take: Customers are not equal in retail. This is not heresy but fact. We discovered this firsthand 25 years ago when we launched one of the early loyalty programs in supermarket retail and began capturing customer identified purchase data. It quickly became obvious that a relative handful of shoppers generates a large portion of annual sales and even more of gross profit. At the same time, a majority of shoppers are shopping very infrequently and spending little. And yet a vast majority of retailers continue to ignore these economics. Some retailers, those who understand the data, skew value in different ways towards their more loyal, valuable customers. Kroger has been doing this for years with a few other retailers finally catching on in recent times. As my friend Brian Woolf was fond of saying "Treat all your customers equally (with great service) but reward them differently". Retailers who fail to understand customer behavior and economics are increasingly disadvantaged in today's marketplace.
Gary’s Take: So if Walmart is pressured to keep up with investments required to compete with Amazon where does that leave other retailers? Walmart is being pressured from not having enough eCommerce fulfillment centers, costs related to acquiring and growing digital-first brands, and funding eCommerce related operational losses. A recent report from Recode states that Walmart's eCommerce related losses are pushing past $1 billion. Two key call-outs from this: First is that if Walmart is having trouble funding eComm related losses, it does not bode well for other national, regional, and independent retailers. Amazon's greater margins are funding infrastructure growth and new services as the innovation arms race is grows fiercer. The second issue is that Walmart is facing a brewing cultural war inside the company as traditional brick & mortar merchants resist the massive investments in digital. This cultural divide is something that many retailers will be wrestling with, if they are not already, and presents yet more challenges for traditional retailers as they navigate the future.
Gary’s Take: We are seeing many retailers pursuing 'Amazon Go' like shopping technology that would eliminate traditional cashiers. The computer vision tech powering up these competitors to Amazon is still early-on but moving fast as young companies seek to scale the tech for traditional supermarkets. As I discussed in my recent book, Retail in the Age of 'I', the industry is rapidly approaching a crossroads. One path leading to this kind of automated, yet barren and sterile, shopping experience offered by automation. The other path puts technology in service to retailers, enabling them to recreate at scale the personalized relationships in the old corner store while increasing service levels as certain functions are automated. Tech is moving increasingly fast and retailers must grapple with the implications of new capabilities, both the good and the not so good. Those retailers that have a clear vision of who they are can use new tech to update and solidify their market position.
Sterling’s Take: Attempting to differentiate with a few products is looking in the wrong direction. Many of these will just become more standard items on the majority of retail shelves. Consumers are looking for full experiences, with new products and services consistent with that experience. It’s around the full experience that retailers can innovate, differentiate and compete. Just look at the Best Buy turn around — did they have the latest products on the shelf? Sure. But that’s not why they started winning.
Sterling’s Take: There is a nice convergence of consumers becoming more tech savvy and technology getting easier to use. With all the new tech available, it’s easy as retailers to think that it’s the technology that’ll provide the next big wave of growth. But we can’t lose sight of why we’re here as an industry: to meet the needs of human beings. And what motivates human beings is new, positive and engaging experiences with the world around us. All these technologies are not a goal. They are only a means to creating those meaningful human experiences.
Sterling’s Take: I think there’s a better question to ask, which is: what consumer experiences can be enhanced with any of these technologies? Approaching our business from a “technology first” standpoint is a mistake. Technology is not the end goal. It is only there to support/enhance great consumer experiences.
FEATURED BLOG OF THE WEEK:
UPCOMING RETAIL TOMORROW INNOVATION DAYS/EVENTS
- BOSTON IMMERSION EVENT:
DISRUPTIVE LEADERSHIP & THE SELFCARE REVOLUTION - July 16 thru 19, 2019
- FOOD CITY - July 25, 2019
- WEIS MARKETS - August 8, 2019
- WAKEFERN - August 21, 2019
- IMPERIAL DISTRIBUTORS - September 5, 2019
- CGA STRATEGIC CONFERENCE 2019 - September 29-October 1, 2019
- RETAIL REVOLUTION AT PORTLAND STATE - October 24, 2019
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
Minding the GAPS - CGA Strategic Conference 2019 - Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, September 29-October 1, 2019
GMDC Self-Care Summit - October 3 thru 7, 2019 in Indianapolis, IN
X/Specs 2019 - October 15 thru 17, 2019 at the Waldorf Astoria, Orlando
- Store Design in the Age of “I” - Wednesday, 11:30am-12:15pm
SPECS Show 2020 - The ForeFront of Physical Retail - March 15-17, 2020, Gaylord Texan, Dallas
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Quote of the Week: Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow. ~ William Pollard
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CART is Advancing Retail by connecting the industry to innovation. Retailers, wholesalers and brands utilize CART to find, research and connect with solutions appropriate for their businesses. Solution providers use CART as a go-to-market tool that connects them directly to their target retail audience, all the way into the brick and mortar store itself. CART has unparalleled insight into what’s next in retail and shares this information regularly through multiple channels.
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