It’s time to reconcile high tech and
high touch in food retailing. The two can complement each other better than
ever today. Bob Wheatley’s blog "Supermarkets: Do you know me, love me?" made me thoughtful
about just how far we’ve come in terms of how technology can help us better
understand and serve our customers.
Last week, a panel at FMIConnect presented highlights from the final
section of a major retail report on using the social web. Developed by
grocery industry leaders for use by the industry, the report covers the topic
in many dimensions. Michael
Sansolo, the research director for the project, talks
with us here about how the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council approached the project, what they
learned from their latest research, and how they hope the complete
report will be used by retailers.
Walmart offered a vision of where food and grocery retailing
is headed at its annual meeting that includes smaller formats and increasing
ecommerce integration. Watching the largest retailer in the world test and try
out different strategies to address changing shopper needs and behaviors raises
some fascinating questions for the rest of us as we struggle to re-invent
NEW FEATURE!!! Audio insights from Bill Bishop. CLICK HEREto hear what Walmart's experiments mean for other grocery retailers.
Online grocery has to be economic to work, but real success depends
on delivering a superior shopping (user) experience. This is where the phrase “retail is detail” goes virtual, and
Relay Food’s new website is a great example. Their commitment to a unique
shopping experience is clear in a recent letter to users.
Tesco’s successful use of search engine optimization (SEO) has
the company dominating food and grocery search results in the UK, making them the
most visible grocery retailer in the digital space. Econsultancy took a look at
why in a report that contains some interesting insights.
Stuart Armstrong was pushing the boundaries of using POS data at
IRI to understand shopping behavior when I first met him. Today, he’s pushing
the boundaries of using digital screens to communicate with shoppers inside
stores at ComQi. I think he has important things to say about where we’re going
with the technology-enhanced shopping experience, which changes in the retail
environment are most transformative, and how retailers and brands are using
interactive screens to build customer relationships.
The Poncho app, now in pilot with Duane Reed, caught
our eye because it nails the requirements for effective shopper communication. Shoppers
want information that’s personalized and relevant – timely, interesting and
useful for the task at hand. Messages that don’t meet these criteria
won’t have much impact and risk being irritating.
Working with retailers, brands play an important role in
driving the sales of their products, so it’s a concern that only a handful have
taken the steps needed to extend that influence to mobile. This gap needs attention.
Taiwanese convenience stores use a success formula that retailers as diverse as Trader Joe’s and The Container Store have tapped into. It’s
about having a different value proposition than other stores selling the same
types of products, and about finding ways to “engrain” themselves into the communities serve. It's the same thinking that's laid out in the NACS/CCRRC Playbook for Success.
The shopping experience is
becoming one of the key ways for food retailers to create competitive advantage
as they try to stand out against the multitude of online and off-line choices
consumers have today – it's also gaining importance because
competing on price alone is getting more and more difficult. We went looking for concepts that
other retailers could use directly or as a jumping off point for creating
unique shopping experiences consistent with their own brands. Here are four that caught our eye.
Sustainable food retail growth depends on increasing same store sales. Digital influence can help, but this requires a new approach to
customer communications – one that provides a lot more than price and
promotions and that delivers experiences that make shoppers
want to engage and come back to the store again and again.
It’s easy to come up with the idea of selling local food
online. It’s harder to get
farmers, retailers, and consumers all “singing from same sheet of music” in
order to create a cost-effective food distribution system. The beauty of Farm
Drop – a new, UK-based online market that connects farmers directly to consumers – is
that it simplifies the challenge with innovative approaches to compensation and
Changes in the retail environment are clearly
accelerating! Against this backdrop, we asked Ron Lunde for
his thoughts. Formerly a senior merchandising executive at
Super Valu, Grand Union, and Price Chopper – and an SVP with Leo
Burnett, Ron is one person we know who can confidently address the ways
in which digital is profoundly changing the way we shop.
It’s clear that many new food stores will be built with significantly
smaller footprints than traditional supermarkets. Check out David Rogers’ presentation to the Supermarket
Location Research Conference for a great framework for understanding the
go-to-market strategies being used by this new generation of small food stores.
The big players in online grocery (like Amazon Fresh) may
get the most attention, but plenty of smaller scale innovation in the market is
worth a careful look – some of it will grow into viable competition. The new Zoomin
Market in Olathe, KA may be one such innovator and their customer interface is worth a look.