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Discovering the Holy Grail of Retail: Online-Offline Convergence

Sena Zorlu, Instapio

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

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

AI Powered Promotion Optimization

CART

Artificial intelligence (A.I.) is tailor-made for high SKU count, high transaction frequency supermarket retail. The insight and recommendations that A.I. provides can help retailers drive significant top line sales gains without increased promotional cost. In the high- volume, low-margin supermarket industry, where even slight improvements can deliver considerable increases to bottom line profitability A.I.-powered promotion optimization is nothing short of transformative. +MORE

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Grab and Go Automated Commerce

Accel Robotics

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

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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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Automation and Personalization of the Retail Store

Instapio Inc.

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

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DART Displays

DART Displays

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

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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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Turnkey Online Shopping

CART

Supermarket operators are being pushed to put in place online shopping capabilities to maintain their revenues and market share as grocery shopping moves online at a fast-growing pace. Many industry studies are projecting that 10% to as much as 20% of sales may move online within the next five to eight years. Other studies show that grocery eCommerce sales are growing over 20% annually compared to the low growth, many times stagnant, sales in brick & mortar retail. GrocerKey is one of many... +MORE

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Darius™ for Retail

Darius Technologies

Darius for Retail is a fully integrated, cloud based shopper engagement platform. Darius delivers proven and measurable return on investment, by allowing retailers to put their shoppers at the center of everything and making it easy to engage and influence them pre-store, in-store, and post-store. Darius allows retailers to design, manage, develop and, measure interactions with their customers throughout the entire shopper journey.  The ‘tech’ bit: Darius™ is a modular ‘ecosystem’ retail technology platform that is designed to integrate and allow interaction with any existing retail systems and solutions such as Beacons, WiFi, dynamic shelf illumination, or e-coupons, and so on, to make continuous engagement with shoppers possible, wherever they are on the path to purchase. The customer experience bit: Darius™ allows retailers to put their shoppers at the center of everything by making it easy to engage and influence them pre-store, in-store, and post-store. The business bit: Darius™ delivers proven and measurable return on investment. That means more shoppers in-store, more often. It means attracting new and hard to engage shopper types. And it means bigger baskets and the increased spends that comes with that. It makes marketing budgets and, where they may already exist, retail tech investments work so much harder. +MORE

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LISNR Smart Tones

LISNR

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

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App Store for Retail

Sparkle CS Ltd

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

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Swift Access

Swift IQ

Swift Access helps to unify data sources and make them accessible on-demand. Process millions of records in milliseconds to facilitate real-time decisioning and individualized marketing to take your customer experience to the next level. Big Data Storage: Harness big data and make any dataset accessible in milliseconds on-demand, even for hundreds of millions of records. We ensure high availability regardless of data size, concurrent users and demand velocity. Data Import: Upload and sync data efficiently from one or many sources via CSV, XML or our REST API. Omni-Channel: Deliver content anywhere with consistency from a single backend. Security: Data is encrypted and stored in highly secure data centers. Developer Tools: Start building apps in minutes with an interactive developer portal, sandbox, sample code in many languages and starter applications. Analytics: We store and index your usage data so you can understand how data is consumed across any channel, user, or device. On-Demand Access: Access data on-demand from any digital device via hypermedia REST APIs capable of transmitting JSON, XML, HTML [and more]. Auto Scaling: We auto allocate and optimize servers and scaling so you can focus entirely on building user experiences. Pay for usage, not peak capacity. User Management: Add any number of user internal or external users or developer using secure OAuth2.0 authentication. Global Reach: Benefit from high-speed data delivery across a high replication global content delivery network with a dedicated cache. +MORE

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Solving Network Security and Connectivity for Retailers

CART

Network security and connectivity have become significant issues for retailers and represent a particularly challenging set of issues for independent retailers who typically lack the resources, skill sets, and expertise that larger companies are able to maintain. Big name retailers that have been hacked over the past year have further raised the importance of the issue. The increasingly rapid growth of mobile payment and in-store Wi-Fi availability for shoppers adds yet additional complexity. +MORE

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Impacting Product Presentation, Merchandising and the Customer Experience

CART

The in-store environment has become an increasingly important front in retail competition as the majority of shoppers make their purchase decisions in the store and impulse purchases remain a significant factor. With this in mind, it is critical that retailers provide a pleasant and engaging in-store experience for their shoppers to achieve long term success as chain competitors stress clean, uncluttered, and well-organized stores. Key to the shopping experience is merchandising. Merchandising success means not only having the right product selection and assortment available, but also having products neatly presented to make it easy for the shopper to find what she is looking for. With so many more options available to shoppers today, retailers understand that the negative impression made by products in disarray and the frustration caused by inability to find the right product in a timely and efficient manner can send the shopper to a competitor. In addition to lost sales, poor merchandising discipline can result in higher labor costs, as store personnel must take time to straighten products and bring them face-forward. European supermarkets, faced with high real estate and labor costs, utilize merchandising fixtures to maintain product display discipline, maximize shelf space, and realize restocking efficiencies. A relative newcomer to the US market, merchandising fixtures from POS Tuning were recently tested by CART in a live learning lab (operating store) to determine the impact on sales, store labor related to restocking and merchandising, and the customer shopping experience. Overall, the fixtures provided a significant positive impact on units sold in key brands and sections in both the cereal and frozen foods categories, which were evaluated in this test. The quantitative results were reinforced by comments from the Store Director who clearly identified labor savings, improved merchandise presentation, and positive remarks from shoppers as key benefits to the POS Tuning fixtures. Merchandising tests such as these are challenging, especially in the dynamic supermarket environment where there is a regular inflow of new products and delisting of older products. Retailers regularly re-merchandising categories and sections compound the challenges as they react to competition and search for any advantage. The CART team’s retail experience underscores the importance of viewing test results through both a qualitative and quantitative lens. The positive impact provided by an easier and less frustrating shopping experience can create customer value over time that can be difficult to manage in a short-term test. Comments from shoppers and store personnel help reinforce the importance of this perspective. POS Tuning is a global provider of innovative merchandising and display solutions that has brought its products to retailers in North America. Building on the success in its home market of Europe, where leading retailers utilize its products across many categories to great success, POS Tuning engaged CART to implement its solutions in key categories in a supermarket to prove their value. +MORE

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Discovering Shopper Behavior Through New In-Store Metrics

CART

In April 2013, Birdzi, Inc. (“birds-eye”), in collaboration with CART, deployed a highly innovative, anonymous in-store shopper detection technology in two U.S. grocery retailers. This technology detects and follows the movement of Wi-Fi enabled personal mobile devices throughout a store environment to accumulate actionable data. Learning to understand real shopper behavior represents the latest front in the retail industry. Technologies such as the one presented here, helps independent retailers to remain competitive. Birdzi can be implemented to gather shopper data over a period of time as well as engage shoppers in real time during their visit, should they chose to participate. The solution is easy to deploy and scalable through a cloud-based centrally managed system that is capable of collecting data in real time. The research study has been divided into two phases. This paper (Phase I) focuses on the mobile analytics aspect, which can be used to adjust store operations through more effective scheduling or improve in-store merchandising leading to an increased basket size. A subsequent paper will focus on Phase II, demonstrating Birdzi’s potential as a shopper engagement tool. The aim of this case study is to showcase the benefits and relevance of mobile analytics technology in a retail setting. +MORE

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Balance Innovations Suite of Solutions

Balance Innovations

(1)

Balance Innovations offers the only retail software platform that connects all points of your currency operations,  lowering the cost of accepting cash and increasing efficiency at all levels of the organization. It provides multi‐ layer security and effortless integration of all your devices and systems to give you an immediate, complete view  of your entire enterprise.  This comprehensive visibility enables you to understand what’s happening across your entire organization without tapping into multiple systems or reports. It puts all the information you need right in front of you –  customized to thresholds you choose – so you can be proactive in addressing issues before they become problems.   +MORE

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POS Tuning

POS Tuning

(1)

POS Tuning is the global innovation leader for retail front facing shelf management solutions.  POS Tuning offers an entire toolbox of products (pushfeeds, illumination, theft prevention, stock management, brand staging, and other disruptive elements) optimizing the presentation of brands and categories at the Point of Sale. +MORE

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GoSpotCheck

GoSpotCheck

GoSpotCheck has created a simple, uniform way to collect, structure, and share retail intelligence. Through our mobile app, teams can streamline field data collection and make better decisions. GoSpotCheck's web and mobile apps automate the structuring and reporting of field data, enabling companies to make better decisions faster. Say goodbye to inconsistent spreadsheets, emails, and documents from your field team and say hello to unified reporting. Customize a mission through GoSpotCheck's web app and release it to your field team. Team members collect information via the GoSpotCheck mobile app and report it back in real time. +MORE

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Digital Foodie

Digital Foodie Ltd.

Digital Foodie Ondemand provides a fully customizable SaaS platform for digital grocery. The platform is used by major retailers and brands, operating currently in North America, Europe and Asia. For consumers, Foodie provides apps that empowers people to shop online, consume smarter and eat better. Foodie delivers highly personalized food and product recommendations that make everyday shopping easy and fun. For retailers, the platform provides all the tools needed to run modern digital operations including click and collect service and home deliveries. Digital Foodie Ondemand platform is currently available on web, iPad, iPhone, Android and Windows Phone. Digital Foodie is venture-backed by US based e-commerce growth fund, Blackdragon Capital, and part of their EnterWorks Holding group portfolio. Today they employ grocery industry experts and technology specialists in two different continents and several locations. Foodie’s award-winning recommendation technology ensures truly personalized omnichannel experience for consumers, increasing loyalty and sales. The service enables consumers to create and share shopping lists, make click & collect and home delivery orders and plan their weekly menus with “one click to cart” –recipes.  Foodie’s fulfillment tools are designed for real-time order management and they enable cost efficient picking and delivery processes. For back office Digital Foodie provides all the administrative tools needed for creating and managing store content and for monitoring, measuring and optimizing service performance. Foodie’s platform scales from independent store owners to very large enterprises.   +MORE

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Beekeeper

Beekeeper Ltd.

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

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Customer Demographics Analysis

DoorStat

DoorStat sets up proprietary sensors at pedestrian doorways or points of interest where the technology automatically analyzes foot traffic & associated demographic info for attendees through video-based, proprietary software. The software, working in real-time, will collect, analyze, and report on customer demographic information, including the gender, age, ethnicity, and mood of each customer. Because customers are passively analyzed, DoorStat collects information on more customers than would be possible through surveys, other forms of technology, or high-overhead initiatives. DoorStat data helps retailers improve customer experience, optimize staffing/operations, validate marketing efforts, identify customer/product correlations, & predict future behavior. Example Insight: between 1-4pm on June 1, location xyz had 523 customers, of which 311 were female; of those females, 36.72% were between 35-44 years old; within that age demographic, 29% were Hispanic. +MORE

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MV Retail

Movista

Our solution is optimized for the retail industry and is used by many retailers, manufacturers, and third party laborers for their reset, retail, install, and sales teams. They use this field execution and management solution for sending tasks, tracking mileage, certifying best practice execution, automating the payroll process and much more. +MORE

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Foot traffic analytics: Your grocery innovation priority

Joanna Rutter, Marketing Specialist, Dor Technologies

Historically, grocery has trended toward traditional solutions to its previously predictable challenges, relying on data like sales trends and weather predictions to meet demand. However, the retail world is changing rapidly — and grocery hasn’t been able to fully catch up. Business as usual is impossible when new, digital-first players enter the space, shrinking store footprints and amplifying customer experience expectations.  While new players flood in, grocery has been “immune” to industry advancements in e-commerce, writes Shira Ovide in Bloomberg Gadfly, and investing in new technology that streamlines in-store operations to deliver on those new expectations has been a challenge for grocers. Perhaps one of the most surprising areas missing from a traditional grocery’s innovation list: Streamlining the checkout experience. Checked out at checkout Express lanes and self-checkout hasn’t revolutionized our purchasing experience as much as promised: The New York Times wrote that Americans still spend roughly 37 billion hours each year waiting in line. Though there are methods like Little’s law for predicting how many customers will be in-store at a given time, it’s hard to take action on that without robust, accurate data on customer traffic in the first place. That lack of intel hits retailers and their customers right in the most frustrating area of the store: Checkout, where “seemingly innocuous things can rub a waiting customer the wrong way,” wrote Perry Kuklin of Lavi Industries in Retail Customer Experience. “Slow or chatting cashiers irritated nearly 70 percent of customers while 49 percent were annoyed at seeing closed checkout lines when a store is busy.” Lavi Industries also found that a third of customers abandon checkout lines longer than five minutes and begin to get frustrated at the two and a half minute mark. With such a thin margin between a customer’s happiness and frustration, grocers need Knowing traffic trends for your store gives you one more data layer to prevent understaffed, long checkout lines that anger and deter customers. How can foot traffic analytics help? Brick and mortar retailers traditionally rely on sales data to help identify trends and predict customer behavior, but this data only shows one piece of the overall health of their business. What sales data doesn’t show is how many visitors came to your store and, more importantly, how many left without making a purchase, especially due to checkout wait times. According to McKinsey findings, “revenue is a sensible criterion for scheduling, but it’s an insufficient one because customers’ buying patterns (average basket size, average purchase price per item, and so on) can vary by hour and by day.” Foot traffic analytics can help you further identify those variables: “Monitor your queues in real time: Use a footfall analytics system to keep tabs on exactly how many people are in line now, how many service agents are available to help, and how long the wait time is and will be soon. With this data at your fingertips you can proactively manage waiting lines, open new lines as needed, direct customers to open lines, and head off problems before they get out of hand.” (Lavi Industries) Foot traffic data gives retailers the tools they need to optimize their staffing — according to a UNC study, retailers are over- or under-staffed 86 percent of the time — measure their marketing effectiveness, and quantify their conversion rate. Foot traffic is a vital layer of information that can illuminate critical insights into sales trends that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. Dor can help you get started with footfall tracking in your store as soon as this week. Dor easily installs in minutes and begins counting customers right away. Integrate foot traffic data from Dor into your existing business intelligence solutions using Dor’s API, and access store traffic trends from any device, anytime, anywhere. Learn more about how Dor can help you optimize your in-store operations. +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

IoT Technology Tackling FSMA Regulations

Naeem Zafar, TeleSense

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

Upping the In-store Technology Game in Grocery: A Do-or-Die Proposition

Alex Goodwin, Aila Technologies

“The grocery business truly is at a digital tipping point, where every aspect of the shopper’s journey will soon be influenced by digital, and increasingly enabled by digital platforms.”                                                                                     — Chris Morley, President of U.S. CPG & Retail, Nielsen, January 2017 The summer of 2017 has seen retailers making moves to add new digital capabilities at a frenzied pace. Albertsons is revamping its e-commerce systems. Publix has declared that it will offer home delivery at all locations by 2020. Kroger is piloting “digital shelf-edge” technology that it hopes will enhance efficiencies in pricing and data collection. And that’s just to name a few. Spurred by Amazon’s surprise announcement that it would acquire Whole Foods in June, grocers and mass retailers in the food and beverage space have been racing to get a leg up on the competition by investing in technology that can capture data, create enhanced customer experiences, and activate new processes such as delivery and in-store online ordering. Amazon is a real threat to existing grocery chains, but it’s not the only one: Target is expanding its commitment to food and beverage, and the nation’s biggest retailer, Walmart, is “gaining [grocery] market share at an accelerating pace.”  With so much at stake in what amounts to a technology arms race, grocers must be strategic in the experiences they craft and the processes they enable. On the other hand, an overly cautious approach may also prove costly: as digital-first consumers are increasingly influenced by technologically sophisticated industry giants, retailers who fail to act decisively risk losing hardfought market share in this ultra-competitive industry. As the grocery world braces for increasing demands for e-commerce capabilities, grocers would be well served to consider enhancing those in tandem with their in-store digital offerings.  The Online Challenge To date, online ordering only accounts for roughly 3% of grocery sales in the US, according to the Shelby Report, although that number is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. While the last-mile logistical hurdles continue to be problematic, the one big edge that e-commerce gives retailers comes in the realm of data collection.  Every digital transaction provides a wealth of sortable data about shopping habits such as purchase history and frequency. It also provides an array of opportunities for personalizing the interaction. For instance, digital platforms offer numerous options for delivering product recommendations based on past purchases or to pair with products already in the virtual shopping cart. In addition to creating a more pleasant shopping experience, these are proven ways to drive revenue: a recent Mckinsey report indicated that cross-selling can increase sales by 20% and profits by 30%. Similarly, Amazon admitted way back in 2006 that 35% of its revenues come from its cross-sales and upselling efforts. While simple apps can provide automated cross-selling capabilities online, grocers must find ways to bring these and other revenue-generating opportunities into their brick-and-mortar locations. A Seamless Buying Experience, Online and In-Store With 97% of the reported $600 billion in grocery transactions each year taking place in physical locations, it is imperative that grocers provide a seamless experience across all shopping channels. Brick-and-mortar stores must be able to deliver the same capabilities that customers are increasingly expecting when they order online — ever smoother and more efficient transactions, as well as product recommendations, loyalty rewards and discounts, and enhanced brand interactions.  The future of grocery will be built upon an in-store digital infrastructure made up of a series of connected devices capable of bringing the convenience and personalization of the digital world into the supermarket aisle. This infrastructure can solve discrete problems for consumers — wayfinding, detailed product information, line-busting, product recommendations, couponing, and more. At the same time, it will serve more broadly as a platform for innovation for retailers, to experiment with exciting new brand experiences and digital efficiencies.  The traditional, bulky, custom-built legacy hardware systems simply don’t have the versatility to keep up. Furthermore, in an industry in the midst of transformational changes, investing in expensive, single-purpose devices risks locking companies into operational workflows that might soon be obsolete. Instead, the infrastructure of the future will likely be built upon powerful consumer-oriented mobile devices. Today’s tablets and smartphones possess the features and functionality to enable solutions that solve current needs, such as in-store price checking kiosks, ordering stations, and POS systems, while also providing the hardware capabilities and flexibility to enable a nearly limitless array of future experiences and use cases.  Retail stores today must act as showroom, warehouse, and fulfillment center, providing both product and information wherever and however their customers need it. To enable this, retailers will be well suited to have the following components in place:  A digital infrastructure (from price checkers to point-of-sale terminals to associate handheld tools) that delivers a seamless digital experience throughout the store, while also tracking data for analysis and optimization of the customer experience, inventory management, store layout, product location, and more. Smart handheld devices that empower associates with full access to product information and customer needs, improving efficiency and productivity. In-store kiosks that offer a branded, user-friendly interface that will make the in-store experience as convenient as shopping online, maximizing next-gen technologies. These tools are available now, and the grocery tech race is already well underway. To maintain the status quo or move slowly is to sink into obsolescence. Bold, decisive action to infuse brick-and-mortar supermarkets with the best elements of the digital experience will be critical to surviving grocery’s ongoing transformation. +MORE

Avoid Digital Confusion: Create A Technology Roadmap

Gary Hawkins, CART

I am shocked by the number of multi-billion dollar retailers I speak with that spend hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars on technology solutions without a clear plan or even understanding of how they fit together. Its almost like these retailers have created a shopping list - we need an online shopping solution, digital coupons, customer segmentation tool, analytics platform, mobile app, and promotion optimization - and then seemingly contract with the first solution they come across that appears to provide that capability. Checking that box they then move on to the next item on the list. Its like walking through the grocery store, list in hand… milk ‘check, eggs ‘check’. After securing all the items on their list, and spending even more resources on implementation, deployment, and training, the executives then realize that some of these solutions actually need to be integrated or, even worse, the executives realize that they have just spent a fortune for multiple solutions from different providers that have a large degree of overlap.  And then there is my favorite: “I’ll outsource my marketing personalization and digital strategy to our online shopping solution provider.” Does it really make sense to handover your marketing personalization strategy to a solution provider who touches only a small portion of your shoppers (those shopping online)? Especially when strategic personalization is quickly supplanting mass marketing as the most effective go to market strategy when competing with Amazon and Kroger, long known for its personalization initiatives. Digital marketing and the requisite strategic personalization are not ‘bolt-on’ capabilities, this strategy goes to the heart of how retail goes to market in today’s marketplace. The number of retailers who actually develop a well constructed roadmap of required capabilities seems to be small. And even fewer retailers give thought to how different solutions come together to provide the capabilities required by today’s marketplace let alone tomorrow’s.  Technology-driven capabilities are mission critical for retail success today and the importance of having a comprehensive digital strategy grows by the day. To be fair, navigating the world of technology is challenging as new innovation entering the industry with new capabilities grows by the day, established companies move too slowly, and the practice of ‘vapor ware’ continues on.   CEOs and all senior executives at retail companies need to understand the need for a tech capability strategy focused around providing a comprehensive, engaging experience for shoppers while providing core business capabilities all brought together to minimize vendors and capability overlap. CART’s involved in a project with a well known regional retailer to create a scorecard helping the retailer understand how their digital capabilities compare to key competitors and best in class retailers. Growing from that is putting together a roadmap of needed or recommended capabilities that serve as a plan for identifying potential solution providers and clearly identifying what capabilities are needed and how they fit together. This is an approach that can be used by other retailers to minimize the expensive mistakes that too many are making. +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

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