Clothing & Accessories

Timing is everything and ‘your newest team member’ is right on time!

Lan Nguyen, Marketing Manager, Bossa Nova Robotics

With AI and data from your newest team member, retail work has never been easier. Bossa Nova, a leader in creating autonomous service robots for the global retail industry, tracks inventory plus store and shelf conditions in real-time. Its solution delivers data with speed and accuracy. By reducing inventory time, Bossa Nova is able to provide real-time data for stock levels with improved accuracy. So how does this translate to a financial gain for retailers? First, by automating mundane tasks, employees are happy and happy employees make a happier retail environment. You might wonder how many hours are spent on mundane tasks such as inventory audits.  There are 30,098 items in the average grocery store. A typical Target store has around 80,000 SKUs and a Walmart supercenter sells up to 120,000 items. It takes about 20 human hours to audit 10,000 products. Following this logic, an average grocery store would require over 60 hours per store,  160 hours per store for Target, and a whopping 240 hours auditing shelves at a Walmart Supercenter. It’s easy to see how grocery stores following the recommended minimum quarterly inventory schedule forfeit a high proportion of human working hours to this task. For those that audit monthly, the labor costs are even more tremendous.   Bossa Nova helps retailers automate these inventory audits and monitor shelf-conditions in parallel, scanning an 80 linear foot aisle in 90 seconds with 98% accuracy. Through automation, employee focus can be shifted to more action oriented, customer-centric tasks, while the Bossa Nova robot detects anomalies in shelf conditions, covering everything from addressing out of stock and misplaced items, to pricing, and more. This shift in employee focus to the customer directly translates to higher shopper satisfaction and increased loyalty. It is estimated that out of stocks cost retailers over $129 billion in lost sales in North America - a loss of -4% of revenue annually. (the cumulative worldwide cost of out-of-stocks for retailers has now reached over $984b) A study conducted by MIT Supply Chain Management Research determined that 78% of products that are not on the shelves (i.e out of stocks) are actually on-hand. Given this, a majority of out of stock issues can likely be resolved in-store. Inventory replenishment is critical to success, and those tasks need to occur at store level. Having the right products in the right place when consumers are looking for them (both online and in-store) allows sales to escalate and deliver a sales velocity that makes the most effective use of each square foot of space. Bossa Nova is committed to maximizing this efficiency by gathing  reliable, real-time data that delivers task oriented, actionable items. Efficient inventory control improves speed to shelf by alerting store-level associates of inventory on hand, as well as buying desks / suppliers of true OOS situations. Through computer vision implementation, retailers can accurately assess, and more importantly, address in-store conditions in real-time, across all locations. Real-time accuracy is not only important to retailers, but it is also important to your shoppers. By having accurate inventory, confidence thresholds for item availability can be increased for both in-store and online shopper inventory inquiries. In fact, 81% of shoppers do research online before visiting a physical store for what they want to buy, yet only 27% of retail sites provide store level inventory. When the robot “wheels” into your stores, you will be saving intensive labor hours and improving your store conditions with unmatched accuracy. Bossa Nova has the credibility and experience to help retail operations realize the return on investment and successfully integrate with existing platforms and systems. There are two popular sayings that really affect your bottom line: “Timing is everything”, and “Time is money”, and in business, money really is everything. While many technology companies are still working to surmount the bell learning curve of applied technology, Bossa Nova is equipped with extensive retail experience and has been trusted by operations and IT professions to successfully integrate and lead this huge step in retail automation. With accurate inventory management, you can increase your revenue potential and more accurately can forecast the future. +MORE

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

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

Connect

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

Connect

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

Connect

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

Connect

Smart Gammified Customer Feedback Surveys and Analytics

Wyzerr

Wyzerr builds artificial intelligence software for data collection and analytics that look and feel like games. The basis of Wyzerr’s platform is making it as fun, fast, and easy as possible for consumers to provide actionable feedback data, and business stakeholders to understand and use that data to make decisions in real-time. Wyzerr’s ‘Smartforms’ can capture 25 questions in under 60 seconds. Our secret sauce is the machine learning algorithms infused within the platform. Wyzerr smartforms processes feedback in real-time like a human being would, rapidly digesting the information and asking new questions as a human would in a real dialogue. It allows brands to truly understand who their customers really are. What they like, don’t like, what makes them sad, mad, and happy…all in real-time. This machine learning capability makes it possible for every customer to receive a unique feedback questionnaire. There’s no such thing as one-survey-fits-all at Wyzerr.  The data is analyzed in real-time to produce actionable insight around the clock. Instead of complex graphs and pie charts, our insight-based dashboard outputs data on a GPA scale, assigning grades (A, B, C, D, and F) for different key performance indicators. Similar to how progress reports in school advise students on what they should do to improve their grades, Wyzerr's AI component advises business stakeholders what they can do to improve their customer experience. Overtime, and with more feedback data, Wyzerr can also recommend new products and services to be developed, suggest improvements to existing products, identify new trends and upsell opportunities, and advise on the types of market messages to run. It’s essentially a technology to use customers’ feedback to support operational decisions. We offer data science in a box. +MORE

Connect

Robots for Retailers

Bossa Nova Robotics

It is estimated that out-of-stocks account for -4% loss in revenue, not to mention the possible long-term effects of losing loyal shoppers. Great shelving conditions can lead to great shopping experiences. Bossa Nova is the leading developer of robots designed to provide real-time inventory data for the global retail industry. Our retail service robot autonomously tracks inventory and the true state of in-store conditions to seamlessly deliver actionable tasks benefiting retailers through efficiencies and accuracy.   Ensure implementation and maximize operational efficiencies by relying on the retail experience and expertise of Bossa Nova. Our trusted team makes it work for all retailers - helping them turn real-time data into actionable tasks and insights.  Real-Time, Accurate Inventory Data Product Availablity with Efficient/Actionable/Timely Replenishment Real-time Corrective Actions to Remedy Merchandising, Pricing and Promotion Compliance  +MORE

Connect

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

Connect

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

Connect

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

Connect

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

Connect

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

Connect

GoSpotCheck

GoSpotCheck

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

Connect

BEFORE! Predictive Analytics

ACT Operations Research

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

Connect

Vegetables Shouldn’t Be the Only Green in Your Market

Rachel Prince, Business Development, Tebo Store Fixtures

Every day, millions of people go shopping for groceries. They go to large and small grocery chains, independent markets, and even farmers markets- we all need to eat. Driving to these grocery stores wastes enough emissions as is, shouldn’t your shopping experience in turn be more efficient? By adding the use of Promolux LED, Econofrost Night Covers and Digital Menu Boards, your market can go from an ordinary every day or week occurrence to a fun, engaging and more energy efficient shopping experience. The first way that your grocery store can go green while enhancing the look of your product is by incorporating the use of Promolux Lights. Promolux Lights are a form of LED lighting specifically designed for your meat, produce, and other refrigerated displays. These long-life LED lights have a low-lumen depreciation which means they last long while staying bright. They also encompass a frosted technology which provides a diffused light to deter shadows and dark spots on food to keep it looking fresh and delicious. These lights and their cool physical temperature are safe if close to food and sprinklers and when added to your market, help save energy all whilst keeping your refrigerated displays looking superior to the rest. The next option to consider, Econofrost Night Covers, focuses more on efficiency than anything else. Econofrost Night Covers are used specifically in refrigerated cases instead of using traditional mesh or plastic covers to protect perishables. These covers are more hygienic than the traditional night shields and they reduce radiation and heat transfer onto the product. By incorporating these night shields, your grocery store can save anywhere from 37-50% of normal energy use per hour- an overall 10-12% energy savings in a 24hour period. Econofrost keeps your refrigerated cases cooler during downtime and helps reduce the amount of food shrink and discard levels up to $1 per foot per day, even during power outages and natural disasters! Because of the massive energy savings involved, some grocers have been granted tax considerations for their conscientious environmental contributions. As you can see, Econofrost Night Covers are a great way to save you money as well as keep your store running green and efficient. So far, we have discussed two energy saving options which help markets stay fresh and green, but where is the excitement and fun in all of this for consumers you ask? That is where Digital Menus enter the equation. Digital Menu Boards may just be your new favorite way to display specials and entertain customers in an economically friendly manner. Joe Michaels, VP of Product Development for the Tebo team and an active NGA member for over 10 years, has designed and built menu boards specifically for independent grocers. They a great way to market high margin and signature product, increase revenue and save money. Let me take a step back and let you know what exactly Digital Menu Boards are and why they need to be included in the grocery world more now than ever. Digital Menu Boards are durable and commercial grade screens with the option to display daily or weekly menu options, specials or ads. They have the capacity to play a moving video while highlighting the screen in different areas for specials or can be a still display to your liking. Besides all the technicalities involved, Digital Menus can help a busy lunch hour or day go by seamlessly. I will explain why in a moment. The first direct energy saving aspect involved in Digital Menus come from the elimination of paper and plastic signage, therefore cutting down on waste. Digital Menus have a proven 8-22% increase in revenue when used thoughtfully in store; whether it be the deli, over the hot foods, or on top of a refrigerated case. Aside from being green from the energy standpoint, they can also be green for your pockets by bringing in more desired sales. Another great opportunity stemming from Digital Menus is that customers can easily see highlighted specials on the board which, in turn, help sway people to purchase the item in focus. Highlighted specials are a great tool to use to drive customers to purchase more profitable and signature items. Even more, on top of the many previously stated benefits of menus, is their assistance with perceived wait times. From experience, I have noticed people often get impatient when waiting on their sandwich to be made or waiting in an order or checkout line, but this solution gives customers something to look at which can take their mind off their task, therefore making their perceived wait time dissipate. We at Tebo have been successful in integrating Promolux LED, Econofrost Night Covers and Digital Menu Boards into chain grocery retailers such as Super Value, Piggly Wiggly, Associated and Unified Grocers, as well as many single-location markets. These three solutions, designed with independent grocers in mind, have the capability to improve efficiency and save you money as well as provide a more inviting shopping environment. The focus above all is to keep markets eco-friendly and people-friendly, thus ensuring that vegetables will not be the only green in your market. +MORE

​SmartAisle and The Rise of Voice-Powered Retail

Ethan Goodman, Co-Founder, SmartAisle

There are three converging retailer pain points and dynamics that have created a compelling and important market opportunity:  First, there’s an historic labor shortage in the US – for the first time ever, there are more job openings than people to fill them, and this is undoubtedly impacting retailers’ ability to put high quality workers on the floor to interact with shoppers.  Second, The “Amazon Effect” is putting intense pressure on brick & mortar retailers to deliver a user experience that meets or exceeds that of E-Commerce – for example, better personalization – or risk losing trips and sales to Amazon and other pure plays.  And third, shoppers are indicating that they are increasingly open to engaging with voice-based virtual assistants in the in-store environment in favor of summoning a human sales associates – 52%, in fact, according to a recent report from AdWeek. So, we created an innovative new solution to help retailers address these challenges head-on. Meet SmartAisle, the world’s first voice-powered in-store shopping assistant.  SmartAisle brings the power and simplicity of voice technology to brick & mortar retail stores in a completely unique and ground-breaking way.  Specifically, it is a patent-pending technology platform that combines an intuitive voice interface, connected LED lights embedded on the shelf and a powerful artificial intelligence engine on the back-end to help shoppers with product selection and education at the First Moment of Truth.  It’s incredibly easy for shoppers to use:  First, shoppers see a call-to-action on at-shelf signage with a prompt for what to say to initiate the voice assistant – for example, “Alexa, open SmartAisle.”   Next, they answer a series of simple questions audibly about their product selection criteria – for example, in whiskey, their desired type (bourbon, rye or scotch) and a target price range (like, under $50).  And finally, our algorithm selects up to 3 recommended products; reads out the product names, descriptions and other relevant information (like ratings & reviews); and lights their position on the shelf for easy identification.   Beyond providing an undeniably cool & novel experience to shoppers, the value our platform can deliver to retailers, as I insinuated at the beginning, is significant. SmartAisle can do everything from enhance at-shelf navigation, selection and education to help close the sale; to capture and report incredibly valuable data about shoppers’ at-shelf behaviors and interactions, and allow retailers to optimize their staffing decisions – not necessarily replace human associates, but rather augment their capabilities and allow them to focus on other key tasks And we think SmartAisle does these things better than any available competitive options today, bet it:   Store associates, who in most cases have limited product knowledge, and whom shoppers sometimes avoid because they’re seeking discretion or don’t want to be “sold.”  Be it traditional at-shelf signage, which can only deliver static content and can’t capture shopper engagement data.  Or be it mobile apps, websites or bots, which require shoppers to have necessary hardware, software or browsers, and a reliable internet connection, and whose screen-based experiences can create barriers to speed.  At this point I’m sure you have all sorts of questions. Here’s my best effort to address the ones most frequently asked by clients and prospects alike:  Do I have to use Amazon Alexa as the underlying AI platform? No. SmartAisleSM is platform-agnostic, and can be built using other comparable AI like Google Assistant.  Has it been executed in a live store environment? Yes. We successfully ran a 2-month test with a boutique wine & spirts store in New York City, and just signed a contract for a 5-store test with a national liquor store retailer on the West Coast (set to launch this December).  How does it perform? Very well. During our 2-month test, SmartAisleSM drove a 20% YOY category lift for our client, and shoppers told us it provided an experience that was “noticeably better”, “easier to use” and “more entertaining” than normal.   Does it only work for Alcohol/Beverage? No. SmartAisleSM is perfect for any retailer aiming to elevate the in-store shopping experience, particularly those in heavy-assortment, high-consideration and/or premium-priced categories like Beauty/Cosmetics, Electronics, Fresh & packaged Grocery, Health & Wellness, Home Hardware, Pet Care and Fashion/Apparel.   How complex is it to execute? Not very. A typical engagement takes 3 months to launch from contract signature to go-live, we handle the installation and all needed maintenance, and the only infrastructure requirement of clients is accessible power. How is it priced? For the time being, pricing is still determined on a case by case basis. But we’re planning to implement a standard per store, per month model in the coming months.   Our vision is to be the world’s biggest, best and most indispensable network of digital in-store shopping assistants – installed in tens of thousands of stores, serving tens of millions of shoppers, and generating millions of dollars in incremental sales for our clients – and we hope you’ll join us on that journey. For more information, visit www.smartaisle.io or email help@smartaisle.io. +MORE

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

POSRG

POS Remarketing Group Inc.

Recycling and Asset Recovery POSRG provides an array of Asset Disposition Services from outright purchases to contracted total asset disposition. POSRG is a certified R2 Recycler and a NAID AAA Certified facility for physical destruction of hard drives. Data Destruction POSRG is AAA Certified for physical destruction of data through the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID).  Technical Services POSRG’s integrated process ensures cost effective management of inventory, staging, and distribution. POSRG’s staging approach not only ensures a successful rollout of your in-store systems, but provides a foundation for increased availability and productivity over the life of your systems.  Asset Managment   At any single moment in time, Point of Sale Remarketing Group (POSRG) is managing, tracking and restoring thousands of individual assets. Each asset is moving through a single phase of the refurbishment process on its way toward becoming a useful point of sale item once again. Maintainance and Repair  New point of sale equipment doesn’t stay new forever. Dust, debris, grease, grime, overuse and other factors cause gradual wear-and-tear which eventually leads to a broken component, a blown capacitor, or some other issue that requires specific repair or general maintenance. Warehousing/Logistics Cost-effective, timely warehousing and logistics can make or break a thriving company. To ensure that your inventory grows in balance right alongside you, Point of Sale Remarketing Group (POSRG) provides a wide variety of flexible service capabilities Sell your Used POS We pay TOP DOLLAR for your used POS equipment Our fast and friendly staff will work with you to ensure a smooth and easy process Get a fair market value appraisal fast A reliable buyer with 14+ years of experience Wanted POS Items Trade in - Trade up Dated POS hardware not meeting your requirements? Upgrade to the latest technology.  EMV Compliance  As of October 1, 2015, the US is moving toward the EMV standard as a direct result of the payment networks shifting specific fraud liability to merchants. POSRG has the latest solutions.   +MORE

Connect

The Amazon Doctrine and the Innovation Arms Race

Gary Hawkins, CART on Winsight Grocery Business

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has long understood the value of being out in front as technology innovation fundamentally alters the rules of competition. While other companies have long based competitive strategy on technology, what’s different is this point in time: We are at the inflection point on the exponential growth curve of computer processing power where noticeable change happens at an ever-increasing pace. Amazon is leveraging its innovation leadership position harnessed together with its vast resources to overwhelm the traditional grocery industry, relegating many retailers to the proverbial corner convenience store. Sound familiar? It should. In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan, in what was to become known as the Reagan Doctrine, leveraged the powerful U.S. economy with the country’s burgeoning military innovation to launch an arms race with the Soviet Union. The result, as we all know, led to the collapse of the USSR and the end of the cold war. Last year’s acquisition of Whole Foods by Amazon triggered a grocery innovation arms race, throwing traditional retailers into a war few were prepared for. How bad is it? As Recode recently reported, Amazon spent nearly $23 billion on innovation research and development last year (2017), up 41% from the year before—more than any other U.S. company, That’s more than Microsoft, Intel, Facebook and even Apple spent on R&D. To put that in perspective for the grocery industry, a report from the IHL Groupstates: “Amazon’s 2016 R&D spending was more than the top 20 retailers (excluding Walmart) technology spending combined … and about 75%-85% of the top retailers’ IT budgets is spent on simply maintaining and upgrading existing systems. As such, retailers are completely outgunned when it comes to spending on IT.” And yet more evidence of the Amazon doctrine in action: The battle for voice-based commerce is already over—long before most retail executives knew the battle had even started. According to USA Today, “Purchases made through devices like Google Home and Amazon’s Echo are projected to leap from $2 billion today to $40 billion by 2022.” Here’s the kicker: “Amazon is forecast to have 70% of the voice-enabled speaker market this year (2018), per Tech Crunch. By 2020, it’s projected that there will be 128 million Alexa devices installed.” Amazon is aggressively expanding the Alexa platform, weaving it into everyday life, through partnerships with auto manufactures, home appliance makers, and even Microsoft to bring Alexa into the workplace. Amazon's Formidable Lead But innovation spending is not the entire challenge. No matter how much a retailer may spend on innovation today, it cannot overcome the lead Amazon has built. Patent filing activity provides a view into the overwhelming power of the Amazon doctrine. Amazon received 1,963 patents in 2017 and holds more patents than any other retailer in the industry (7,096). By comparison, Walmart, perhaps the most serious traditional retail competitor, holds only 349 patents. It may already be too late for a good number of traditional supermarket operators. The innovation arms race has gone nuclear as Kroger partners with Ocado to build automated fulfillment centers and Nuvo to use automated self-driving vehicles to deliver orders. Beyond digital disciples such as Kroger and Walmart, few retail companies have the wherewithal to invest so heavily in new innovation in an effort to keep pace with Amazon, the deity of digital. Innovation spending aside, many multibillion-dollar regional retailers are what I think of as digitally discombobulated. Many of these companies are trying to do the right thing, investing in e-commerce, putting the customer at the center of their business strategy and launching new digital services. But too often these retailers end up with overlapping capabilities, expensive or impossible system integrations, digital silos, and fractured user experiences. The very nature of competition has fundamentally changed and many industry executives do not yet get it. How important is user experience? Very. My wife and I regularly order restaurant meals delivered to our home. Living in southern California, we have our choice of delivery services; DoorDash, Grubhub, Eat24, Delish, Uber Eats, and many more. Yet for all those choices, Amazon Restaurants has won nearly all our business because of a seemingly simple thing: I can track the delivery driver in real-time through the app, knowing—literally to the minute—when dinner will be at our door. What should frighten retailers the most is that this battle is just getting started. As innovation accelerates, it is driving convergence between historically disparate capabilities and even industries. Companies such as Label Insight are using AI to deconstruct the typical package nutrition information into dozens or even hundreds of granular data points. Separately, health industry innovators are using cutting-edge data science to understand the individual person’s unique, granular nutritional requirements based on gender, weight, age and specific health conditions. At the same time, Apple is reported to be working on noninvasive real-time monitoring of an individual’s glucose levels. A well-known university is able to ascertain a person’s vitamin levels from a teardrop. And then there’s ScriptSave, with its long history of innovation in the pharmacy space, knitting together disparate capabilities to transform and personalize the health and wellness space. Think of it as a virtual dietitian helping guide the shopper to beneficial products across the store, ultimately driving recommendations off real-time health monitoring. And then embedding this capability at the intersection of food and healthcare.  What's the Next Move for Retailers? What are retailers to do? Is there any way to compete? Here are a few thoughts: Think integrated platforms not point solutions. This is especially important when considering customer-facing digital capabilities. Avoid disparate solutions powering up a splintered experience; one AI “brain” should be driving personalized, relevant engagement across every channel and touchpoint. Don’t build tech internally. Unless you are Kroger or Walmart, don’t think about building IT solutions internally; technology is moving too fast and has become too specialized. Instead, leverage advanced cloud-based solutions that provide a “technology putty”—leading edge capabilities molded to your brand and operations. Move faster. If there is one thing that I think endangers traditional retailers more than anything else it is the slow pace at which they are moving. There is no place for five-year plans; the game will be long over by then. Remember, you are now in a world of exponential growth of innovation—speed counts. So, is all lost for traditional retailers? Is the dominance of Amazon and the digital disciples a foregone conclusion? No, but retail executives must understand that shopper expectations now rule, that tech-based innovation is the new battleground, and that tomorrow will no longer resemble today. To view original article: Winsight Grocery Business +MORE

SmartAisle

SmartAisle

SmartAisle℠ is the world’s first Voice-powered retail shopping assistant. It is an innovative new technology platform designed specifically to revolutionize the customer experience in brick & mortar retail stores. Through a combination of an intuitive Voice interface, connected LED lights affixed to the shelf and a powerful artificial intelligence engine working behind the scenes, it provides expert product recommendations, education and support to shoppers at the all-important point of decision. +MORE

Connect

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

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

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

Imagine Having What Every Grocer Need to Know...In Your Pocket!

Bradley A. Zenger, Pivotal Tools

Independent Grocers are experiencing significant competition from sophisticated, technology-empowered competitors.  Chain retailers, highly targeted brick and mortar formats, as well as on-line grocery retailers are competing effectively for shoppers and shopping trips historically bound for Independent Grocers.  Independent Grocers, with their preferred locations, experienced teams, and long established customer relationships have inherent advantages.  However, they must respond effectively to gain market share as the market evolves. Successful Independent Grocers are leveraging their inherent strengths by empowering their most valuable asset, their team.  New business intelligence tools, purpose built for Independent Grocers, can empower teams to deliver amazing results. Pivotal Tools was formed to provide tools to Independent Grocers to help them compete more effectively in this increasingly competitive environment. PivotalView, from Pivotal Tools, is the emerging leader in this new category of tools.  Prior to PivotalView, the common Business Intelligence tools used by grocers included back office systems and category analysis tools. These tools, accessible only through a desktop computer, typically present lots of data frequently in printed, static reports.  Such reports are often difficult to understand and are not responsive to the demanding needs of fast moving, experienced merchants; merchants who are not analysts.  These merchants don’t need data; they need Actionable Insights delivered by tools that are available wherever and whenever merchants need them.   Actionable Insights, like those provided by PivotalView, are not presented in static reports.  Actionable Insights is engaging, interactive, information generated through advanced analytics techniques, delivered in a way that is easy to understand, easy to implement and easy to evaluate.  Actionable Insights deliver real results.  For owners PivotalView is a solution that is extremely affordable, can be deployed easily and quickly without an IT team or traditional hardware or software resources.  PivotalView allows merchants to really understand their business, respond to changing customer trends and ultimately deliver better results for customers.  Teams using PivotalView start with key business metrics, like sales, customer count, and basket size delivered automatically to their smartphone or other mobile device (or desktop computers) every morning by 5:30 a.m.  These business metrics are color coded, based on the retailer’s own targets; so that department managers, store managers, buyers, category managers as well as executives can easily prioritize efforts.  With PivotalView if a department is underperforming, its indicators are red!  Easy.  You can then “drill down” to see which sub-departments or items are driving the underperformance.  If categories are implemented, you can easily look at sales, customer count and even basket by category and then drill down to see which items are driving performance within those categories.   If you want to evaluate a particular item or group of items; maybe items on ad, placed an endcap, or on a TPR, or some other promotion; there’s an easy search feature, using either the description or the UPC/PLU.  It’s easy to find any item in the store.  Then with just a click you can see a trend chart to quickly evaluate the effectiveness of any promotional effort for that item.  Drill down to the item detail and you’ll see average selling price as well as item movement.  Want to see a movement report for a department, category, a group of items, just one click – all on your smartphone.   For multiple store chains, PivotalView allows members of each store team to easily see how their department, category, or item is performing compared to other stores in the chain.  Making this information easily available unleashes healthy competition, highlights best practices, and can even identify store voids or out of stock situations.  For chains with more centralized planning, there’s the ability to see chain level roll-ups of department and categories allowing easy identification of the stores with the best performing departments or categories within the chain.  PivotalView has been deployed in independent grocery chains up and down the West Coast for nearly 3 years and has proven that Empowered Merchants, using  PivotalView, deliver outstanding results.  Here are a few examples: Deli Manager:  Carol is the Deli manager for a store in a multi-store chain.  While she quickly acknowledges that she’s not a “technology person”, she has embraced PivotalView quickly and uses it with great impact. Carol’s results (for the last year):  Deli department sales up 6.9% vs. store sales growth of 1.9%.  Basket size growth of 5.2%. Successful introduction of several new items and quick termination of items that didn’t work for her customers. Carol’s Quote:  “I’m competitive and this tool makes me even more competitive.” Carol’s PivotalView Usage Profile:  Carol is a daily user, always before arriving at the store.  She aggressively uses PivotalView to monitor top selling items and track the performance of new items.  She also compares the performance of items in her department to other deli departments in the chain to leverage best practices and identify store voids.   The Wine Steward: Joel is a first time wine steward for a single store Independent Grocer. Joel’s results (for the last year):  Wine Department Sales: up 14% (store sales growth:  4.5%).   7% increase in customer count  - compared to 1.6% customer growth for the store.   7% increase in wine basket size compared to store basket growth of 2.8% Joel’s Quote:  “I am obsessed with Pivotal Tools. I look at it in the early morning hours. I like seeing my daily, weekly, monthly sales. If sales are in the red, it motivates me to do more selling and merchandising.” Joel’s PivotalView Usage Profile:  Daily usage, often including days off, always before arriving at the store, also used throughout the day in the store.  Joel recently integrated a category structure which, when used with PivotalView, provides more effective visibility for assortment and promotion monitoring. The Grocery Manager:  Larry is the Grocery Manager at a single store that is part of an Independent Grocery chain.   Larry’s results: Frozen sales up 6.8%  Frozen Basket size growth of 3.6%  Increased customer count of 3.1% Larry’s PivotalView Usage Profile:  Larry is a daily user, always before arriving at the store.  He uses PivotalView to aggressively pursue assortment optimization, through tracking top items and slow moving items.  He performs extensive comparison to other stores in the chain to feed his competitive spirit and ensure that he’s the top performer in the chain. Technology developments in cloud based computing, analytics techniques and smartphones now make it possible to provide team members of Independent Grocers easy access to highly relevant information, including at the item level, right on their smartphone.  Deployment of tools like PivotalView unlock the competitive nature of grocers, resulting in better performance, without additional investments in supervisory personnel, merchandisers, reports, or audits.  Actionable Insights available all the time through mobile devices, means merchants, such as department or store managers, spend more time in their departments with customers and less time in the office running reports; leading to higher levels of ownership and accountability.   For store managers and executives, PivotalView allows them to stay in touch with their stores, wherever they are, and engage with their teams, either celebrating victories or problem-solving challenges.  Using mobile devices coupled with cloud based analytics and automation virtually eliminates the support burden on IT personnel or POS coordinators, while delivering a huge cost advantage to owners. In summary, there’s never been a better time for Independent Grocers to leverage new business intelligence tools, like PivotalView from Pivotal Tools, to empower their teams to drive more shopper trips and sales in an increasingly competitive market. +MORE

Turn "Pesky Donation Requests" Into a Customer Loyalty Goldmine

Drew Honeycutt, Planet Fundraiser

In a 2017 study put out by Cone Communications, research shows that 90% of customers are more loyal to, trusting of, and have a more positive image of a company that supports a charitable cause. It’s not a PR headache, it’s a massive (and largely untapped) opportunity for businesses willing to invest in their communities. Not only that, but it’s increasingly important for retailers to be able to understand how marketing spends can be correlated with in-store purchases.  Community engagement and charitable giving now closely parallel an effective customer loyalty strategy. That’s why it’s vital for businesses to start turning those “pesky donation requests” into tools to attract and retain customers. The donation request problem Donation requests are difficult to manage, at scale, for three primary reasons: 1. )  A burden on store owners and managers Store owners, managers, and employees are often asked the same question, “Will your business make a donation to our school or non-profit?” And it’s not just once or twice a week. Some of the retailers that we work with at Planet Fundraiser claim to field something like 15-20 requests per week, per location. Not to mention the requests that come in at a regional or corporate level. It’s an administrative burden for store managers and employees. When you have to say, “No,” it’s a missed opportunity to connect with customers on a personal level. Think about it - when a customer is taking time out of their day to track down a manager or decision-maker and ask for help, that’s when your business can provide tangible, personal value. Most businesses would love to have this sort of customer engagement and feedback, but the lack of a process deters a deepened relationship. These are the types of customers that you want coming back to your grocery store or restaurant - they’re committed to their community and they frequent your business. Simply having a process in place could make all the difference. 2.) Tracking, Admin, and Analytics It’s understandable to see why store owners and managers might choose to focus on other aspects of their business that more clearly affect your bottom line. The trouble is that charitable giving can be a significant driver of customer loyalty, which directly affects your bottom line. If your business lacks insights about its charitable giving, you might be missing out on the bigger customer loyalty marketing picture. Many times, businesses have a system in place, but the burden falls on a single person like a store manager or regional marketing manager who lacks a solution or the time to properly analyze its effectiveness. Tasking out an entire community engagement system to a single person, who might not have an analytical background, isn’t exactly a process. What’s more, most charitable giving that’s done by businesses isn’t tracked as thoroughly as it could be. For many businesses, it’s not worth the investment to look into what was paid out and to which community groups. This has a negative effect on reporting and all you’re left with is a line item at the end of the year. 3.) Online to Offline (O2O) Marketing Return on investment from marketing and advertising efforts has always been difficult to measure, regardless of medium. For traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, it’s particularly hard to understand how marketing dollars spent on advertising build customer loyalty. The same is true of promoting the good that your business is doing in the community - you might have some ways to promote your partnership with local community groups, but it’s hard to measure the impact and tell the story.  All your efforts should answer the question: How will this affect our relationship with our customers and drive sales? Charitable giving is the hook The silver lining: Charitable giving will distinguish your brand. The traditional way to handle donation requests doesn’t work for businesses or charitable groups. Nobody likes asking for money. Businesses hate saying ‘No’ to customers. However, while donation requests might seem pesky and a chore for your staff to handle, they’re actually the solution. There are also new tools that take the hard work out of handling donation requests. For example, we at Planet Fundraiser have created a software as a service solution that provides businesses with a way to easily track and manage their charitable giving.  Here’s how businesses like Piggly Wiggly, Chick-fil-A, and New Balance use Planet Fundraiser to maximize their charitable giving dollars and create loyal customers: Customers shop and redeem charitable giving donations - When a customer shops at your store, they submit a picture of their receipt and we handle the hard stuff We handle the admin work and distribute payments to schools, nonprofits, and other community-based groups Store owners and managers view analytics and get insights into their charitable giving A charitable giving promotion allows your business the flexibility to give as your customers shop, establishing a direct correlation to sales. New and returning patrons begin to choose your store(s) over the competitor because you’re investing in something that hits home. Translation - now you have a message that resonates, on repeat.  It’s an incredible way for you to meet your customers where they are, create a distinct competitive advantage, and increase basket sizes.  What other businesses are saying Planet Fundraiser works with thousands of businesses that are implementing our solutions into their stores and demonstrating their commitment to their communities: “We love how Planet Fundraiser gives us a performance-based way to support local schools and charities while allowing our customers to choose which cause they support.” - Andy Virciglio (Piggly Wiggly Operator) / Birmingham, AL “Planet Fundraiser has been a game changer in the way we support and develop community relationships. It’s made my job easier and allowed us to host better fundraising events and drive more traffic to our store.” - Blake Smith (Marketing Director) / Chick-fil-A (Gardendale & Fultondale, AL +MORE

Profectus USA

Profectus Group US

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

Connect

Cloud Union

Cloud Union Rewards

The Rewards Platform that has millions of shoppers engaged in the "spend", "earn", "redeem" and "re-spend" transactional cycle Add value, not lower price, to transaction: 100% digital with proven technology.  No cards. No keytags Integrate online and offline sales Drive actionable insights Strengthen the relationships with customers  The only loyalty program that pays YOU Intelligence-Based Marketing Cloud Union analytics provide data-driven insights that guide business decisions and optimize marketing campaigns.  Supercharge your customer acquisition, retention, upsell and cross-sell strategies.  Gain a deep understanding of your customers and build a stronger relationships with analytics that are automated, smart and predictive. +MORE

Connect

Planet Fundraiser

Planet Fundraiser

Planet Fundraiser is a philanthropy management platform that streamlines community giving for businesses of all sizes. With the Planet Fundraiser app, our merchant partners give back a percentage of their customers’ purchases to local schools or nonprofits of the customer’s choice - deepening the relationship with their community and their customers. Joining the Planet Fundraiser network opens up merchant partners to an expanded customer base of our charitably minded customers, creating the opportunity to increase revenue while supporting your community. How It Works Customers shop at participating businesses Snap a picture of their receipt A % of their purchase is given to a cause of their choice!  +MORE

Connect

Pages