Grocery Retailers - Best Experiences, Products, and Services

Goals

To understand what grocery retailers are providing the best experiences, products, and services for their customers. An ideal response would be 3 case studies within the grocery industry of grocers who are successful in delivering unique products (products that can't be found anywhere else) to their customers, as well as 3 case studies within the grocery industry of grocers who are successful in delivering unique services to their customers.

Early Findings

  • Lab stores in grocery don’t look like lab stores in other industries, because grocery is ultimately all about food. There are two types of lab stores emerging in grocery. The first is more focused on products and brands. KaDeTe is a good example, where a retailer has created a store for offering new and emerging brands. They treat it in part as a consumer research facility, helping new brands to learn about the consumer behaviors and opinions that might drive the future success of their products. For consumers, they get the benefits of a curated selection of “trendy” new products, playing into a lot of consumers’ desires to be the first to try, or the influencer who always knows about popular items before everyone else does.
  • The second type of lab store in grocery is embodied in Kroger’s Kitchen 1883. It looks more like a restaurant than a retail environment, and plays more of a role in testing recipes than specific individual products. The success of Kitchen 1883 is already playing into the next trend for Kroger, related to owning all the stages of food prep, by giving Kroger an opportunity to test recipes it may use in meal kits or meal-to-go offerings. However, it may also ultimately play a role in the last stage of food prep: offering full restaurant services to consumers who don’t want to cook.
  • Scan and go is a trend in service being offered to consumers. "Kroger, the parent company of King Soopers and City Market, rolled out the pilot program to 400 stores across the country in 2018. Consumer scan and go can be a win-win for retailers and consumers: saving consumers time by not having to re-bag everything or stand in line, saving them money by giving them interactive offers in the aisle, saving retailers space and labor at the front of the store, and even more important, giving them much richer insights into consumer thought processes as they shop.
  • Kroger Co. and Microsoft Corp. are joining forces to bring the ease of online shopping to brick-and-mortar grocery stores. Kroger, America’s biggest supermarket chain, has remodeled two stores to test out the new features, which include “digital shelves” that can show ads and change prices on the fly along with a network of sensors that keep track of products and help speed shoppers through the aisles. Kroger could eventually roll out the cloud-based system it developed with Microsoft in all of its 2,780 supermarkets. They are calling it a transformative customer experience.
  • Kroger is expanding its partnership with health company higi to bring smart health kiosks to Roundy's Supermarkets stores in Wisconsin and Illinois. The kiosks provide access to free health screenings and educational content. Kroger first partnered with higi in 2011 and offers its kiosks in more than 2,000 stores.
  • Kroger's Wellness Your Way program helps customers find nutrition tips, make shopping lists and participate in a prescription savings club, which aims to compare prices and find coupons on drugs.
  • Harris Teeter is testing a store featuring self-checkout-only stations. The 18,000-square-foot store in Charlotte is about half the size of a traditional Harris Teeter and has no manned checkouts. Harris Teeter says the store has “significantly” smaller transactions than a typical location as its customer base is largely comprised of urban residents and professionals. The increased number of self-checkout stations is expected to speed transactions with so many consumers requiring express-lane checkouts. According to a survey by Civic Science from July 2018, 57 percent of U.S. consumers preferred to check out with a cashier, 33 percent via self-checkout kiosk and 10 percent had no preference. Self-checkout kiosks were preferred by 46 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 34, 35 percent for those between the ages of 35 and 54 and only 19 percent by those 55 and older.
  • An app service known as Aira offers blind and visually impaired users the opportunity to use their smartphones as a second set of eyes. Wegmans, which is headquartered in Rochester, N.Y., and operates nearly 100 stores in six states, is the first supermarket chain in the nation to offer the service in all of its locations.
  • Wegmans has also elevated the supermarket experience, even by its own "Disneyland of food shopping" standards. It built a new 146,500-square-foot store in a two-story space with three restaurants and a second floor dedicated to fresh selections in the upscale Natick Mall in Massachusetts. Consumer satisfaction is so important to the grocer with stores mostly in the Mid-Atlantic and East Coast, it trained workers at other stores for six months before moving them to the new location.

Proposed next steps:

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Our initial research only focused on three grocery stores in the United States, Kroger, Wegmans, and Harris Teeter. We found an abundant amount of information on them, and we can confidently state that there is a lot of information on this topic in the public domain for many other grocery stores. Given that, we are recommending the following: Research that covers 3 case studies (examples) within the grocery industry of grocers who are successful in delivering unique products (products that can't be found anywhere else) to their customers. We would need a definition of "products". In other words, must those products be food items? If not, what can they encompass? This must clearly be explained to us. For each case study found, we will provide what they did/are doing, why it is unique, and any success metrics if available. As well, this research would be US based. If another geographic focus is needed (for example, a global focus) we would need that clearly communicated to us in any response. We will not duplicate any of the findings in the initial research.
Additionally, we are recommending research that covers 3 case studies (examples) within the grocery industry of grocers who are successful in delivering unique services to their customers. For each case study found, we will provide what they did/are doing, why it is unique, and any success metrics if available. This research would be US based. If another geographic focus is needed (for example, a global focus) we would need that clearly communicated to us in any response. We will not duplicate any of the findings in the initial research.
Additionally, we are recommending research that examines and explores 3 examples of successful and unusual experiential marketing for a grocery store. This would be US focused, unless otherwise directed. For each case study, we will include what it was, why we chose it, and any success metrics if available.