The Lookout

Scanning the horizon for opportunities & challenges created by new uses of technology in retail.

Lunds & Byerly's Kitchen: Food-for-now sells food-for-later

Lunds & Byerly's Kitchen: Food-for-now sells food-for-later Here’s a new concept that’s worth a look. Food retailer Lunds and Byerly’s has turned the “grocery store with a prepared foods department” on its head. They’ve opened a restaurant to promote their online grocery shopping option and carry-out food offerings. The restaurant also serves as a pickup point for online orders.

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Kroger's RSI enterprise IT system: digitizing the store

Kroger's RSI enterprise IT system: digitizing the store Given the challenges facing today’s retailers, it’s worthwhile shining a light on Kroger’s leadership role in developing a new Retail Site Intelligence (RSI) enterprise IT architecture. It will serve as the foundation for a broad range of retail innovations that give Kroger the ability to digitize the store and improve the shopping experience.

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Alibaba's Tmall supermarket unlocks possibilities

Alibaba's Tmall supermarket unlocks possibilities Alibaba’s Tmall Supermarket is a good example of how much creative flexibility is possible when a retail business model is built out on the internet. Partly, this is because it’s possible to reconfigure a virtual operation quicker and at a lower cost than brick and mortar, but the real headroom is found in making changes that deliver greater value to customers – and some of these possibilities aren’t even imaginable until a retailer begins to think differently about the possibilities.

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The personalization challenge: Moving beyond the transactional

The personalization challenge: Moving beyond the transactional Scale is a challenge for retailers when it comes to personalization using digital connections: How do you reach enough shoppers to have a measurable impact on sales?  We found some specific ideas about how retailers can personalize WITH shoppers vs To shoppers. These ideas can create better implementation and ultimately help realize a lot of the value missed by just staying with a transactional/product focus.

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Tesco uses customer service to introduce iBeacon

Tesco uses customer service to introduce iBeacon Tesco’s decision to offer customer service through its iBeacon trial instead of promotions is intriguing.  Retailers can hurt themselves by delivering promotions and selling products because they were paid to do so, not because their customers wanted them. Tesco's choice will benefit shoppers while allowing them to warm up to the new technology slowly.

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ShoppingScout: Truly targeted promotions and price info personalized for shoppers

ShoppingScout: Truly targeted promotions and price info personalized for shoppers Sooner or later someone was going to make it easy for grocery shoppers to take greater advantage of their new-found market power, and the free price comparison app ShoppingScout may have cracked the code.  Sara, the app's personal shopping assistant pictured to the left, automatically looks up the prices for all the items on a customer’s grocery list, in all the stores they shop, and shows them the lowest prices.

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As the dust settles between Target and P&G

As the dust settles between Target and P&G When conflict erupts between a major retailer and a large consumer goods manufacturer, the damage can be quite costly. The recent disagreement between Target and P&G didn’t go that far, but the lesson is still clear: if these conflicts cause participants to take their eye off serving the ultimate customer, they can create real danger.

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CMOs, social media & shopping

CMOs, social media & shopping Social media plays an ever-larger role in customers’ lives and advertisers are spending more on it. It isn’t easy to measure the ROI, but that shouldn’t be confused with the need understand how it impacts the business, and the door is wide open for social food shopping.

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ExpoWest: Momentum builds for online grocery retailing

ExpoWest: Momentum builds for online grocery retailing Last weekend I was at ExpoWest, where there was lots of energy in the air around online grocery shopping. Clearly, the user experience delivered by some online grocery retailers is improving at warp speed. One big implication for traditional food retailers is that customer expectations about how they do food shopping are going up – which makes it even more important for brick and mortar retailers to find ways to deliver unique in-store shopping experiences.

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How much are in-store employees really worth?

How much are in-store employees really worth? The in-store experience delivered by retail sales clerks varies widely, and when it translates into higher productivity that’s worth paying for. GAP recently raised its minimum pay to $10 an hour and this should definitely help them attract more of the type of people who are essential to winning in today's retail world. This feels like the right time for a fresh approach to the way stores value their first line personnel.

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What's behind the Sam's Club online subscription pilot

What's behind the Sam's Club online subscription pilot As interest in and acceptance of subscription services continues to build, now is the time to catch this wave. Amazon pioneered the online subscription, and in the process they revealed an unmet customer need that wasn’t evident before – to replenish regularly by auto purchasing products at a shopper-directed interval.   Now other retailers are getting into the act, like Sam’s and CVS.

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