Progressive Grocer

JAN 2017

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100 | Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What's Next | January 2017 sumer's grocery shopping experience by making it easier for customers to be notified of special promotional coupons, and provide an easy way for consumers to navi- gate grocery stores for specific items," he says. "ese tailored techno- logical interactions with the customers result in increasing customer loy- alty. e best customer to have is one who keeps coming back." To illustrate his opinion, Stone points to an excerpt from an article in Forbes magazine that discusses the rising trend of beacon technology: "Beacons — sensors that are embedded throughout a retail store's digital touch- points like shelves, signs and product displays, and can interact with mobile devices using low-energy Bluetooth signals — will continue to gain momen- tum in the next 12 months." Indeed, while beacon technology has yet to be widely deployed in grocery stores, surveys show that about a third of consumers are receptive to receiving in-store notifications from beacons, with the highest concentration among 25- to 30-year-olds, notes Mike Puffer, who leads prod- uct strategy at New York-based Hello World, an engagement platform. "Kroger, Walmart, Whole Foods and Target are among the top grocers and retailers to watch," he asserts. "ey have made a significant investment of time, energy and capital into their digital innovation." For example, Kroger's 55,000-square-foot super- market in Cold Spring, Ky., 10 miles southeast of its hometown of Cincinnati and a December 2015 PG Store of the Month, serves as a testing lab for the latest in-store technologies, enabling the country's largest traditional grocer to set the standard for how shopper engagement will be conducted in the future. "We are interested in creating a better shopping experience," asserts Brett Bonner, the retailer's VP of research and development. To achieve that goal, Kroger has put together a digital ecosystem that blends shopper-facing hardware with sophisticated technology behind the scenes. Here are two of the most promising applications: Shelf Edge: e center store is outfitted with "smart shelves" in the form of small rectangular tags that display digital prices and ads. ere are some 2,000 Edge tags that replace paper tags, eliminating the need for store associates to change them periodi- cally by hand. In the future, the tags may be able to provide nutritional information and motion video, as well as communicate with a shopper's smartphone. Scan, Bag, Go: At the entrance of the store, cus- tomers are greeted by a Scan, Bag, Go kiosk loaded with hand-held scanners to use while shopping. ey can scan and bag products, including fruits and veg- etables in the produce department. When finished, they scan a special barcode on a terminal at the front of the store that transfers their order to the checkout. "We're still in the test-and-learn phase," notes Bonner. "ere's a lot we learned in this store, and we are still learning. Kroger's intent is to provide the best digital experience." Meanwhile, Dollar General, in partnership with Coca-Cola and Hello World, has deployed beacons in 13,000 store locations to provide a unique experience and deliver value for both the shopper and the retailer. Shoppers who download the store's app and opt into the program receive messaging and/or coupon offers triggered by the shoppers' proximity to in-store beacons. e messaging encourages Coca-Cola purchas- es when shoppers are in certain locations, such as near a Coke beverage display, and aims to increase basket size. Not only has this solution been rolled out nationally, but Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based Dollar General continues to evolve and refine it. Several promotional strategies and individual marketing content tied to the initiative have been advanced throughout the year, tying into key shopping periods such as holidays. "As the hesitation around proximity marketing erodes further and infrastructure evolves, the capa- bilities become limitless," explains Hello World's Puffer. "Consider a retailer's ability to shift traffic from the perimeter and drive center store sales by directing users to the shelves and sections of the store to find the items on their wish lists. ink As the hesitation around proximity marketing erodes further and infrastructure evolves, the capabilities become limitless." —Mike Puffer, Hello World W ei GH in G o P tions Kroger's s can, Bag, Go system allows shoppers to input their product prices, including produce. t echnology In-store Solutions Continued from page 97

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