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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

The Shaky but Awesome Future of Retail

Shekar Raman, Birdzi

We live in exciting times. The pace of progress in technology far outstrips the pace at which we are coming up with ideas of its applications. Hence the endless stream of exciting startups that come up with new and innovative ways of applying the technology and changing the way we live our lives. Exciting times indeed. There are however a few things that seem to take forever to change and are at contrast to everything else that is happening. Take for instance the retail industry—arguably one of the oldest and most established industries. For years, things have been done a certain way, and the adage ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ seems to be a recurring theme in this sector. Innovation meets inertia, and the result is often slow, sluggish progress. But as Dylan said, ‘the times, they are a changin’ . The technology innovation and competition to traditional brick-and-mortar is forcing traditional retailers and even supermarkets to sit up and take notice and start thinking about changing the way we have thought of retail. In particular focus is the astronomical adoption of the smartphone. In eight short years since the first iPhone was released by Apple (some people may argue that smartphones existed before that, but let’s not go there for now), 80% or more of the phones sold in the market are smartphones. More importantly ‘connected’ phones. Last year, mobile overtook desktop as the #1 way to access the Internet. Retailers have started to realize both the power that is in the hands of the consumer to research before they buy, and their own ability to reach the customer proactively with personalized recommendations.  In the mid to late nineties as the reach of the internet exploded and e-commerce seemed to be engulfing the world, the birth of Amazon, eBay, buy.com, and countless other imitators, seemed to suggest that brick-and-mortar is dead. Now, almost 20 years later, brick-and-mortar retail still accounts for more than 95% of retail sales. Long live ‘the store’! Humans are social animals, and as much as the convenience of online shopping is enticing, our very nature thirsts for interaction and exploration. So what does all this mean? There is not a minute in our daily lives that we are separated from our personal devices (looking at my kids, it seems like a minute is a long time to be separated from the phone!). This presents a huge opportunity for retailers to stay connected with customers in ways never before thought possible. However, it is only those retailers who can figure out how to keep the interaction personalized and subtle that will win the race to being effective retailers of the future.  Dealing with promotional emails from e-commerce sites or retailers has become a job in itself, and people setup email accounts just to manage that. Clearly, mass promotion is at best annoying, and given the pace of our lives, hardly effective. It seems so 2000s. The future is about personalization. Its about, ‘just let me know of things relevant to me’ at the right time and place. Doing this was unimaginable a decade ago. Only a good friend could judge your mood, intent and based on their intimate knowledge of your personality say the right words. Just imagine your local supermarket doing that with your shopping needs. Understanding your personal preferences, shopping cycle, intent and budget and suggesting (and notifying) items you may be interested in. Not in an obscene, ‘in your face’ way, but in a ‘friendly’ manner, with your best interests in focus. With the advent of big data platforms and cloud technology, processing massive amounts of data in short order and deriving insights into individual shopping behavior and then proactively suggesting products and services is now a reality. There are several exciting startups that promise just that. So what’s the hold up, why aren’t retailers flocking to this trend, or wait.. can they? If there is one obstacle that stands between most traditional brick-and-mortar stores and the future, its data. The quality of data that most retailers have on their legacy systems simply does not lend itself to the emerging platforms. We are talking about abbreviated, truncated, misspelled, crude, and just plain poor quality data. All our big data platforms, machine learning, artificial intelligence, deep learning platforms require one thing. Good clean data to learn from. Retailers who can address this fundamental issue and bring about change in how they handle and store data will put themselves in a position to own the future and offer a level of personalization that consumers will come to expect in the future. Amazon recently announced that they are planning to open up about 2,000 stores nationwide. With the quality of data they hold, I would be surprised if they don’t become a major brick-and-mortar presence, threatening even the most established players. If traditional stores don’t make fundamental changes and pay more attention to how data is collected and stored, they stand to see the ground slipping away under their feet, while trying to figure out how to hold on to their customers. The future of shopping is closer than you think, especially if you have good clean data! +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

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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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

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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

LISNR

LISNR powers transactions and connects the global customer journey with the most advanced Ultrasonic Data Platform. LISNR’s technology addresses the growing need for simple communication between myriad devices. Based on that idea, LISNR created proprietary software for encoding data into inaudible “tones”, which were then transmitted and received using standard speakers and microphones. +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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Balance Innovations Suite of Solutions

Balance Innovations

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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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Personalized Shopper Engagement Suite

Birdzi Inc.

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Birdzi’s Personalized Shopper Engagement Suite is made up of the following components: Personalization Engine - Proprietary algorithms track individual shopper profiles & behavior and score offers & content for each shopper based on objectives Digital Touchpoints - Connect with your shoppers through your own branded mobile app, web and email In-store Engagement - Empower your shoppers to search and locate items in-store and receive relevant offers in the aisle through beacons Offer Management and Analytics - Build and manage offers and track performance in real-time To find out more click here. +MORE

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Mobile Checkout

FutureProof Retail

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

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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

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Innovation is for Distribution too

Gary Hawkins, CEO, Advancing Retail

Retail industry conversation about innovation inevitably focuses on the brick & mortar store, eCommerce, or consumer-facing technologies. Meanwhile, the staid distribution center is undergoing its own transformation.  I can remember when voice-guided picking was the new thing and how space-age it seemed to have order pickers being directed by the computer behind the headset each person wore. Today, that kind of technology has become boring when we see the robotics and automation that is sweeping across distribution centers. There are case-picking robots, piece-picking robots, robots that bring merchandise to humans, and even completely automated distribution centers. Drone technology has warehouses too, with different solution providers tackling slotting errors, out-of-stocks, and other operational issues.  Some wholesalers and distributors are even acting as outsourced eCommerce fulfillment centers for their retail customers, orders being passed from the retailer’s online ordering site to the distribution center for fulfillment to the customer’s home.  And while maybe not as sexy as robotics, the latest AI and machine learning powered optimization technologies are providing significant value to distribution centers as nearly everything can be optimized, from slotting layout to order picking, in-bound product deliveries to out-bound deliveries, and even the delivery routes. AI and machine learning tech is tailor made for demand forecasting and inventory optimization as the distribution center level. The CART team is seeing all this and more as we coordinate Innovation Program events for larger, self-distributing retailers and for significant wholesalers and distributors across different product lines and categories.  If you’re a self-distributing retailer or a dedicated wholesaler / distributor give CART a call to learn about what’s new. And if you’re a solution provider relevant to distribution, check in with us to learn about the Innovation Program events we’ve got coming up.  +MORE

Retailers: How do you evaluate new innovative solution providers?

Gary Hawkins, CEO, Center for Advancing Retail and Technology

I see a lot of solutions that focus on the fast moving consumer goods retail sector - retail like supermarkets, drug stores, convenience stores, and discount stores. And when I say a lot I mean hundreds and even over a thousand solutions each year. And while many of these solution providers are challenged to effectively and efficiently communicate their value proposition, retailers can do more to help. Technology providers love to talk about features and functions, about how what they have built uses the latest hot technologies, and so on. Retailers would be well served to help focus the presenter on: 1)  What problem is the solution provider solving for the retailer or what opportunity is being presented? 2)  Get the solution provider to clearly call out what resources are required from you the retailer to deploy the solution? 3) How is the solution provider pricing their capability? Can they provide you an ROI calculation? Is it based on real experience at other retailers? 4) Can the solution provider give you a referral from another retailer who has used their solution? 5) For very young companies and startups, explore their level of resources and funding. The last thing you need is to get excited about some new capability only to find the solution provider lacks the wherewithal to deploy all your stores. Lastly, and you can do this early in your meeting, seek to understand if the solution provider knows your business. We encourage solutions to visit the retailer’s stores before any meeting to gain an understanding of how the stores operate, etc. Solution providers seeking to sell you something that fail to understand your business are sending a signal. +MORE

CART Weekly Report 5/9/19

CART, ADVANCING RETAIL

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

Personalization and Relevancy Can Be a Game Changer for Independents

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

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

3 Types of Retail Execution Data: What They Are, and Why They Matter

Mat Brogie, Part of founding team and CEO of Repsly, Inc.

In today’s fiercely competitive market, retailers are taxed with the responsibility of making sure their in-store presence gives them an edge over their e-commerce counterparts. Effective retail execution is absolutely essential to keeping store sales afloat, seeing as over half of purchase decisions are made within brick-and-mortar walls. High-performing organizations incorporate three distinct data types into their retail execution strategy to keep store sales high and competitors at bay. Here we’ll discuss what those data types are, and how retailers and suppliers converge to best utilize them. Activity Data Activity data refers to the measure of outputs from brand representatives or store personnel. This encompassses metrics such as “visit frequency” or “number of shelf resets completed.”  These metrics have the power to reveal how team members are spending their time in-store. For example, retailers can rest assured that brand representatives are upholding their commitments by monitoring how often they visit the store and how much time is spent there. This data also proves useful in devising better schedules for employees based on how and when they interact with brand reps. Managers from either party (retailer or supplier) can more easily identify top performers by comparing activity data to sales lifts. What’s more, transparency around this data promotes accountability for whichever party is responsible for various retail execution tasks.  Activity data sets the stage for what’s going on within the confines of a store, but it can’t paint the whole picture. The real value comes from analyzing it against observational and sales data.  Observational Data Observational data includes qualitative data points that tell the story of what’s actually happening inside the store. Examples of this data type include notes on brand presence, photos of the shelf, or information on merchandising activities. This data tells the story of what’s actually happening at the store level, and has several practical uses. Some include: Sharing photos to prove compliance with a display or promotion Monitoring photos and other data points pertaining to shelf presence in order to flag stockouts more quickly and keep track of damages that might become returns Brands building trust with a retailer by sharing competitive intelligence from other stores through photos and questionnaires (i.e. “What does the inside of their store look like?”, “Who is shopping in it?”, etc.) Recording information about foot traffic and customer sentiment during a promotion or demo event  Observational data is able to reveal key insights about in-store presence at a very granular level of detail. However it becomes even more powerful when used in conjunction with sales data. Sales Data Sales data is simply the sales generated over a specified time period. Perhaps the most straightforward of the three data types, it’s still extremely telling. What’s interesting to retailers is how the other two data types (observational and activity) are able to push the needle on sales. Both retailers and brand suppliers can benefit from comparing historical sales data to improve forecasting, especially around the holiday season. When combined with activity and observational data, sales data reveals whether or not a promotion is effective or if a display is being properly set up. Similarly, steady sales followed by a steep drop-off could signify a stockout or the consumer switching to a competitor. Taking a look at sales and observational data can also convey where cross-merchandising is present to help retailers and brands make decisions about where else to stock complimentary SKUs. A close analysis of sales data can uncover a cannibalization that’s hurting other SKUs in a set. Conversely, brands can showcase which SKUs or promotions are the biggest sales drivers for retailers.  Putting It All Together A sizable 25% of in-store sales are lost to poor retail execution. When used either separately or in conjunction, three types of retail execution data are a retailer’s secret weapon to winning over consumers. Forward-thinking organizations understand this reality, and apply the three types of data as part of a virtuous cycle of insights, planning, and action at retail. +MORE

CART Weekly Report 3/28/19

CART, Advancing Retail

"PRESCRIBING" FRUITS AND VEGGIES WOULD SAVE $100 BILLION IN MEDICAL COSTS | Fast Company Gary's Take: The massive food and healthcare industries are converging, driven by healthcare costs, widespread chronic conditions, the growing understanding that food is medicine, and all enabled by technology. Read about iRetail comes to Healthcare in my latest book, Retail in the Age of 'I' available on Amazon. 50,000 WAREHOUSES TO USE 4 MILLION ROBOTS BY 2025, SAYS REPORT | Robotics and Automation News Gary's Take: Automation is exploding across distribution centers as more than 4 million robots are projected to be deployed in 50,000 warehouses by 2025. That's more than a 10x increase from the 4,000 warehouses using automation in 2018. The growth of eCommerce is driving more automation as companies are focused on efficiency and accuracy in order fulfillment. At the core of the rapid increase in robotics across the supply chain are growing capabilities enabled by AI. To stay competitive, retailers and wholesalers must look to the use of automation, both in existing distribution centers and new warehouses. This trend creates big opportunity for retailers to redirect resources into customer-facing roles to improve service and customer-focus. WILL RETAILERS BE READY WHEN AR ADOPTION TAKES HOLD? | RetailWire  Sterling's Take: AR or VR (or any technology) is not the answer. It should be the result of finding better ways to deliver more value to the consumer. As we’re able to create meaningful experiences that use AR/VR, something like 65% of shoppers expect it will change the way they shop, so they’re ready and willing to engage. ARE AMAZON'S PRIVATE LABELS FALLING SHORT OR JUST GETTING STARTED | RetailWire Sterling's Take: The key that Amazon has is that they've built into their culture the ability to learn, adjust and change. Even with limited success, I'm sure they're not only capturing all the data, but understanding exactly what is happening and why for their next iteration. Instead of worrying, other retailers and brands can focus their efforts on developing their people and their cultures to continually learn how to deliver increased value to the shopper. FEATURED BLOG OF THE WEEK: IT'S INDEPENDENT RETAILERS WHO ARE BETTER POISED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF TECHNOLOGY, Guest blog by Chris Cialone, Director of U.S. Sales Operations, Wonder Rewards​ HAPPENINGS CALL FOR PRESENTERS FOR VR/AR ASSOCIATION RETAIL & eCOMMERCE MAY WEBINAR DISRUPTIVE LEADERSHIP & THE SELFCARE REVOLUTION​, Boston Immersion Event Apply to present at Retail Tomorrow Labs: Boston Immersion Event on July 17-18 SPRING 2019 RETAIL INNOVATION PITCH EVENT, hosted virtually on May 23, 2019 ​Get on the Inside - CART Community FOR RETAILERS>>  FOR SOLUTIONS>> Become part of the epicenter of retail innovation exclusive network. The place where retail decision makers and solution providers come together to advance retail into the future. +MORE

Litmus7 Ecommerce Acceleration Program (LEAP)

Litmus7 Systems Consulting

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

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Why Your Grocery Store Needs the Latest Scanning Technology

POSRG

For independently owned grocery stores to stay competitive with nation-wide retailers like Costco and Wal-Mart, having the latest point of sale (POS) hardware is essential for both customer and employee experience. While there is no replacement for knowledgeable, friendly cashiers, the checkout line is the nexus of the grocery store experience. A bogged down point of sale severely limits an independent retailer’s ability to effectively manage long queues, ultimately sacrificing their business to larger chains. Outdated and inefficient scanners at the POS means longer lines, frustrated customers and abandoned purchases. A POS upgrade can be a simple yet effective solution to many of the challenges faced by independently owned grocery stores today. Staying on the Forefront of POS Technology  A modern retail management system can narrow the gap between independent grocers and larger chain supermarkets. People often prefer the feel of a locally owned and operated grocery store to that of a larger chain, but in order to retain a loyal customer base, maintaining high quality equipment that serves the needs of the customer is a must. It is imperative for independent retailers to be on the forefront of technological POS advancements to stay competitive amongst the nationwide conglomerates. Smartphone use is constantly increasing as it integrates itself into virtually every aspect of the modern world, retail included. Being able to easily accept mobile coupons, pay via phone, scan items without concern for damaged barcodes, and weigh items quickly and accurately to reduce shrink are all elements that a store should consider when assessing their current stations and maximizing checkout efficiency.  Effective Mobile Couponing As mobile couponing becomes more widespread, it is important to implement equipment that can actually process electronic discounts. If you can’t accept a mobile coupon, customers may end up buying those products elsewhere, lowering your profits and decreasing the likelihood of the customer returning.  And while some POS systems do accept these coupons, a customer usually must either hand the phone to the cashier to scan, or the cashier must use a handheld scanner (relying on steady hands from both parties) to input the coupon code. Unfortunately, there is always the unwanted possibility of a dropped phone in this exchange, causing the grocer to be held liable for damages to the customer’s phone.  Customer Side Scanners State-of-the-Art checkout scanners now include customer side scanners for both ease of use and liability concerns. If the customer is able to use their phone to enter their loyalty information or coupons, scan an impulse buy at the counter, or even—eventually—make mobile payments, the cashier can focus on improving your store’s efficiency while the customer is supplied with an effortless way of entering information or discounts.  Versatility in Scanning Speeds up the Process  New scanning equipment also uses better quality laser scanning, with both vertical and horizontal scanning windows and omni-directional symbol orientation, helping to improve overall scanning speed. Many of these units can read barcodes even when they’re under plastic wrap, damaged or worn, faded, or poorly printed. Older scanning units can have scratches on their glass platters, increasing the time it takes to move items through the checkout line. Newer models use glass that is scratch resistant, limiting lost time and helping items ring up smoothly. Although lines may be long, with modern POS equipment discouraged customers may be surprised by the short wait times, therefore increasing customer satisfaction.  Maintenance Made Easy POS maintenance can also be an issue for independent supermarkets. With the advancements of technology, checkout lanes and their hardware are not immune to obsolescence. As equipment ages, it can become more difficult to service, taking longer and costing more in both labor and downtime. And while upgrading your store’s POS can cause concern—you might worry that it would be too costly or time-consuming, or even call for altering the structure of the checkout counter—products are now available that can reduce the total cost of ownership, lowering the time needed for servicing and overall power consumption. They’re easy to install, use a minimal number of parts, and have no moving pieces, thereby providing fewer failure points. Also, the housing of newer systems is often secured without screws, increasing accessibility for technicians and lowering checkout downtime.   What to Expect From Reputable Service Providers As a Point of Sale IT solutions and service provider, POS Remarketing Group is committed to helping your store manage every need at any phase of your equipment life cycle—from preventative maintenance and onsite repair to custom configurations made to order from our partnered, reputable brands. To stay competitive with nation-wide retailers and supermarkets, your equipment makes a difference to both customer and employee experience.  As experts in POS servicing and maintenance, POSRG can make these possibilities a reality, helping you acquire and implement a new checkout system that that will keep you competing with larger retailers. Upgrading your POS hardware is one of the easiest and most rewarding means to boost profits, reputation, and customer satisfaction.  Contacting Us If you’re interested in our services, we can be reached at www.posrg.com. We are confident that we can help with any POS or IT issue and provide valuable solutions. We will be present at this year’s National Grocers Association Show, occupying Booth 1015, where we’ll be showcasing the Zebra MP7000, a top of the line checkout scanner with some of the technology and features mentioned in this article. The details of our exhibition can be found here. Stop by and say hello, and we’ll be happy to show you our knowledge and expertise firsthand. +MORE

It’s Independent Retailers Who Are Better Poised to Take Advantage of Technology


Chris Cialone, Wonder Rewards, Director of U.S. Sales Operations

Usually it’s the big chains that get the credit for leveraging the latest in technological innovations. We’re all used to seeing the splashy headlines announcing Kroger, Ahold or Amazon about to launch another new tech-centric feature or capability.  And it makes sense, one would think – the big guys have the big budgets, have innovation labs, and have R&D funding.  But independents have something the retailers don’t have – faster and nimbler decision-making abilities. Unfortunately, many independents don’t capitalize on this strength, waiting instead for technology to filter down – and by then, customers aren’t as excited and any point of differentiation is long gone. Today’s regional supermarket chains should find partners that can provide them a technological edge. Companies like Wonder Rewards, who have the ability to launch a turn-key, 100% digital loyalty marketing program that drives incremental sales by attract new customers, retaining the best customers, and offers up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. Wonder Rewards uses transactional data to: Plan out a responsive customer journey Analyze data for insights and segmentation Design marketing campaigns using insights Execute those campaigns with offers and content in personalized texts, notifications or email Report on results, re-calibrate and optimize campaigns What other technology is under-utilized by independents? Globalization. Technology has made the world smaller, it is now possible for a local grocery retailer to expand their customer base to include consumers in other countries, and these consumers LOVE American-made consumer packaged goods. There is a high trust factor to consumable products made in the US under stricter government safety regulations that exists outside of the US. Technology, like that made available to independents allows products sold by grocery retailers to be sold and delivered to the doorstep of millions of consumers in Asian countries.  In another example of an attention-grabbing headline from a big chain, last August Kroger released a statement saying that “e-commerce enables Kroger to quickly scale to reach new customers and markets where we don't operate physical stores, starting with China.” And that the arrangement will “meet Chinese consumers' growing demand for high-quality, organic food products.” Independent stores can now do the same with the Wonder Rewards online marketplace. You can expand the size of your customer base from your local market area to include millions of Chinese consumers who appreciate the value and quality of American made consumer package goods.  A logistic partner manages the process from product placement on the online marketplace to shipping direct to your new Chinese customer’s doorstep. E1 Marketing Edge is an example of an emerging tech-centric company that can expand the size of independent retailers’ market from those within a reasonable driving distance to a global audience, regardless of language or culture. Interested? Stop by booth # 1204 at NGA to learn more. +MORE

The Age Of Assistance: Learning How To Survive & Thrive

Caroline Brady - Product Integration & Marketing Specialist, Pointy

The death of brick & mortar, the retail apocalypse and the closure of big box retailers have all been frequently featured news topics in the past few months. With more and more customers choosing e-commerce many brick & mortar stores are struggling to stay afloat. So what are the main influences that have caused this change in buyer behaviour? Thanks to smartphones, the process of buying online has become even easier & more efficient. Now customers can simply search for the product they want on Google and buy it from an online retailer at the click of a button. The path to purchase online is clear for the customer – the product is easy to find, its stock status is known and the delivery date is certain. By comparison, buying a product from a brick and mortar store is often a much more complicated and uncertain process. Customers often don’t know where to find the product, if it’s in stock or if the store is even open – this leaves a lot of unanswered questions for the customer. The differences between these two experiences may partly explain why more and more people are choosing online instead of in-store.  So what can retailers do to stem this flow from in-store to online and attract customers back to the main street? A good place to start is by looking at the most recent trends in consumer search behaviour and seeing how retailers can capitalize on these.  Product Searches vs Store Searches The introduction of the smartphone has changed the way we search. With ready access to a computer in our pockets people are spending huge amounts of time online but their sessions are very short. Customer’s attention spans have decreased significantly and they expect instant answers to all of their search queries. The graph below compares searches for different toy products over searches for toy stores in the last 90 days. It highlights the increase in specific product search queries and shows that customers now have clear intent when it comes to searching online. Currently, most retailers rank number one when you search for their store’s name on a search engine like Google. However, even if someone is 50 feet away from their store searching for their best-selling product, the customer is most likely going to see an Amazon result rather than their local store. In order to capitalize on this recent change in search behavior you need to display your products online. The problem is that getting all your products online requires a huge amount of work and resources. Pointy makes displaying products online a whole lot easier. We create a webpage displaying all of your store’s products together with listing key contact information for your store. These pages are optimised rank well in this changed search environment. Path To Purchase With Products Displayed Online Displaying your products online together with having key contact details present on each and every web-page for your store removes many of the barriers and uncertainties customers are currently faced with when looking to buy products in-store. By removing these barriers the path to purchase from search to sale in-store begins to look very similar to that of buying online, thereby attracting more customers back to brick and mortar stores. A recent study conducted by Google found that 50% of customers who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a local business within a day and 18% of these lead to a purchase within a day. Customers who are doing local searches for products are usually in a hurry. They want the product now and they are not willing to wait for shipping. By providing customers with instant gratification brick & mortars can actually beat Amazon. Many of our Pointy retailers say that the in-store experience they provide is one of the biggest strengths. Displaying your products online means more customers finding your store and visiting it. In-store purchases will improve the likelihood of repeat visits and gives the retailer a great opportunity to up-sell. What’s more, it allows you to develop a relationship with your customers that online retailers simply cannot mirror. (Retailer Testimonials: here) +MORE

Meet Your Point of Sale Solution: Modular Now™

Amy Pulcini, Marketing manager, Innovative Workspaces

Innovative is pleased to be showing their Modular Now™ product line; a customizable mount solution for point of sale at The NGA show 2019. With various pole heights and mount styles, extension arms, and accessories; Modular Now ™ is the perfect solution for any point of sale environment. Expert engineering and a thoughtful production process means Modular Now™ is one of the highest quality POS mounting systems available.  Meant to withstand heavy use in point of sale environments, Modular Now™ provides an upscale look and clean aesthetic without sacrificing quality or durability. “Not all point of sale environments are alike, which is why Modular Now™ was developed. It allows our customers to quickly and easily create custom tailored solution.” says Jarrett Dugas, Point of Sale Manager. “It allows users to maximize counter space by using a single pole mount to support multiple displays as well as a payment terminal device, receipt printer, and even a keyboard tray for low counters.  Internal cable management helps maintain a clean, sleek, and attractive esthetic.”  Every customer has a unique way of doing business and therefore needs their own unique solution. Ergonomics are also becoming increasing important to reduce workplace injuries and increase employee comfort. Modular Now™ helps solve these challenges by providing a fully adaptable mount solution that can be tailored to each customer’s need. The result is better ergonomics, reduced development costs, reduced lead time, better long term support, and an upgrade path for users as parts are interchangeable. Why choose Innovative for your Point of Sale Solution? Configurable POS Solutions Not all POS installations are alike, which is why Modular Now™ was developed to allow customers to quickly and easily create a custom configured solution. Use our Modular Now configurator to build yours today. Durable Solutions for Continuous Use POS environments are notoriously heavy-use, which is why point-of-sale applications need mounting solutions that are designed and built with durability in mind. Expert engineering and a thoughtful production process means Modular Now™ is one of the highest quality POS mounting options available. Image is Everything Choose Innovative’s clean, attractive POS design to convey a quality image straight through the checkout process. Maximize Counter Space More counter space means more selling space. A single Modular Now™ pole mount can support multiple displays, a terminal payment device and a printer. Place your technology exactly where you need it Monitors, kiosks and payment terminals can quickly be placed in user-convenient positions with Innovative’s POS solutions. Do you have a unique requirement? Bring your custom projects – Innovative’s custom-design and rapid-prototyping capabilities will deliver. Join satisfied customers and partners such as Kohl’s, Starbucks, McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A to improve your POS setup today. Check out our full solutions catalog her https://innovativeworkspaces.com/pdfs/Innovative-POS-Catalog.pdf Don’t see what you need? Don’t worry. Product configuration is our specialty. Whatever your project specifications, Innovative can help you find the right solution.  Contact us today about your project requirements and technology mounting specifications: 800.524.2744 InnovativeWorkspaces.com/POS +MORE

Mobile App Pain Points

John Kangas, CEO, FwdMbl Solutions

Your current in-house system works great within your four walls.  The pain starts when you walk out that door and it can give you a full-on business migraine by the end of the day. We can ease the pain by targeting these five major sources when your workforce hits the road. Breakdowns in Communication When an Account Manager, Sales Rep, Delivery Driver, or Customer directly needs information, they need it NOW!  It should not require phone calls, strings of emails to and from the office or multiple warehouse locations to find product, invoice information, aging or account information, upcoming orders, etc. It’s frustrating and time consuming for everyone involved.  You should not require an Internet connection to give this to your customer when you are standing in front of them. FwdMbl Solutions gives Account Managers, Sales Reps, Delivery Drivers all this information right at their fingertips. It is available without the need for Wi-Fi or a cell signal and can be printed, emailed or faxed right there. There’s no need to track down items or pricing, looking up inventory and pricing is immediate. Pricing Errors Let’s face it, pricing can be complicated. If updates in pricing don’t make it to the ones that are selling in the field you can lose money. If incorrect information is given it can turn into an embarrassing situation.  Pricing can be different per customer given contracted pricing or discounts. Sales may be given leeway to adjust pricing on the fly within reason.  There are many scenarios as there are companies.  Pricing needs to be up-to-date and correct each and every time FwdMbl Solutions handles all pricing scenarios. All pricing updates can be real-time saving you money and confusion. Workflow Issues The system you are using doesn’t match your workflow.  You need to hunt for your tasks and weed through things you don’t use.  You are jumping from one item to another just to complete these tasks.  This takes precious time and leads to frustration. FwdMbl Solutions gives you role-based programming.  It gives you only your work for the day and one task seamlessly flows to the next. It’s so efficient, before you know it, your day is complete with time to spare! Internet Connection/Equipment Problems I see it almost every day while going to the grocery store, convenience store or my favorite restaurant.  Account Managers, Sales People, and Delivery Drivers trying to connect to Wi-Fi, or get any Internet connection.  Once they do, connection is slow and they have wait for webpages to display on their screen.  When it does finally appear, the information is hard to read or cannot be given to the customer. Printers disconnect or jam. Old devices just giving up the ghost. FwdMbl Solutions’ Apps are native apps that work connected or disconnected. They are not merely a webpage you are trying to display on your phone.  We use our unique technology to make sure your employees are never waiting for the information they need.  Once the information is pinpointed it can be printed, emailed or faxed to give immediate access to your customer. Training is Difficult FwdMbl Solutions’ Apps are robust, yet simple and elegant.  The screens are not busy or hard to read.  The workflow is intuitive and training is a breeze. The PAIN IS REAL!  When your software is in your employees’ hands and doesn’t work disconnected, has missing or inaccurate customer or order information, has printer or scanner malfunctions, or is cumbersome to use it is a recipe for unhappy employees and unhappy customers. At FwdMbl Solutions we can enhance your customer experience and improve employee satisfaction with our Mobile Apps and Portals.  We do this by connecting to your existing systems, so there is no need to change everything you do, only what they see.  We interface to your backend ERP, POS or other systems and display your information in a Mobile App or Portal that is fast and truly mobile. It is easy to use and best of all, it runs on the mobile phone you already own. Don’t own a phone? You can use an affordable Android device from our hardware partners. +MORE

The Growing Role of Data Intelligence in eGrocery

Michael Demko, CEO and Founder, Locai Solutions

2018 was marked by many advancements in the various applications of data intelligence – the ability for computers and apps to gather information, and use it to give customers a truly personalized experience – setting the stage for the next-level in convenience. Shoppers are now less resistant to the idea of individualized product suggestions, which creates a new dynamic of customer service: people expect products to be presented to them in an easy, personalized, and intelligent way.  A great user experience is an imperative part of any eCommerce offering, but the underlying logic, algorithms, and intelligence that bring depth and relevance to the user experience is where the real innovations are occurring. In 2019, personalization and AI will grow from being merely promotions and product recommendations to a set of  tools that help retailers sell time-saving solutions. By 2020 45% of retailers plan to utilize artificial intelligence to enhance the customer experience. Currently, many platforms generate lists that you can buy from, but with machine learning you can now deploy solutions that provide higher levels of convenience for your customers.  What exactly does the customer experience? A more frictionless buying experience. Upon initial sign in to an app powered by an engine like eGroceryIQ, customers answer questions about their dietary preferences, portion sizes, and favorite items. After each purchase, the order details are collected and used to modify that user's next shopping experience. If the customer reviews an item, that information is also integrated into future product and recipe recommendations. eCommerce platforms embedded with AI powered solutions will take all this customer data, integrate it with what is currently in their shopping cart, and provide them with a highly personalized and engaging shopping experience. These smart apps, using segment-of-one personalization, create a unique interface for each customer. Instead of having to sift through an entire catalog, shoppers are presented with their favorite items right away, as well as similar product suggestions – foods they might like based on past purchases.  Other applications for data intelligence include capabilities that provide shoppers with information to problem solve for quantity and product type. Customers can filter and scroll through listings to compare nutritional information and see what items fit with their dietary preferences or restrictions. AI solutions  can sift through recipes, parse ingredients, map them automatically to a retailer’s assortment and systematically scale the amounts needed for a family of 4 or a single serving enabling customers to use tools such as meal planning to maximize use of products already in their virtual shopping cart. As machine learning continues to evolve, the possibilities become endless.. Is it worth the investment? All that value for your customers translates to higher sales. Intelligent solutions mean higher basket sizes, improved loyalty & retention, increased conversion rate, and higher purchase frequency.  Furthermore, data intelligence can be used to advance your merchandising, logistics, and fulfillment efforts. According to Tech Emergence, "the predictive capabilities of AI may play an important role in forecasting inventory needs, determining prices of products based on internal and external factors, analyzing customer behavior, loss prevention, delivery services–and potentially much more."  Equipped with volumes of data about your customers, new platforms will emerge to enable you to more easily pivot your business strategies, optimize your interfaces, and offer a catalog of high selling products.  The bottom line? More convenience equals greater customer satisfaction and more revenue. Intelligent solutions for today and tomorrow According to Forbes magazine, almost half of Americans now buy groceries online. Recent surveys by Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Nielsen show that 49% of US consumers had bought CPGs (consumer packaged goods) online in the past three months, up from 23% in 2016. The rates were higher among younger demographics – 61% for millennials and 55% for Gen Xers. As these rates continue to increase, experts predict that AI will continue to expand to meet the growing needs of both grocers and shoppers. Without AI, traditional grocery stores will have a difficult time meeting consumer behavior and demands. Many are finding that simply adding an online catalog is not enough to satisfy their customers, nor drive higher sales. The key is increasing value through efficiency and continuous learning about your customer. Solutions embedded with machine learning are designed to meet the needs of both the retailer and the consumer – giving the consumer an engaging, personalized experience, and the retailer a comprehensive, sales-driving and scalable platform. In order to succeed digitally, a broad set of components are needed and we’re beginning to see more and more partnering between grocers and technology solutions. As Yeal Cosset, Chief Digital Officer of Kroger said, “Personalization based on available data will not work. If the filter of the data is only good you will become obsolete, but if it is great you will have success.” Investing in flexible platforms that enable integration with the best in class consumer and operational features will become necessary, as a wide host of 3rd party application providers continue to emerge as the industry evolves. +MORE

Innovative Workspaces

Innovative Workspaces

Designer and manufacturer of ergonomic monitor mounting and height adjustable sit-stand work space solutions.  Products Innovative is an award winning market leader of monitor, laptop, and tablet mounts. We are committed to creating reliable products through insightful design, responsive manufacturing, and superior product performance, providing the best in space savings, flexibility, and ergonomic benefit.  Monitor Mounts Regardless of application, our monitor mounts offer ergonomics, flexibility, and space savings for the professional user.  Height Adjustable Bases Encourage a healthier workplace by giving workers the ability to add more movement into the work day.  Sit-Stand Workstations Improve wellness and productivity in all work environments by incorporating standing into the day.  Power Beam + Benches Bring power and data into open spaces by choosing our power and data beam or our benching system which incorporates a built-in power beam. SHOP OUR SOLUTIONS > +MORE

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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

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