Progressive Grocer

FEB 2017

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50 | Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What's Next | February 2017 gave Kroger access to the Matthews, N.C.-based chain's Express Lane technology as a starting point. Harris Teeter's program helped Kroger end up with a successful online grocery shopping platform, Bishop says, noting that the regional chain had been around long enough to "work out a lot of the kinks," and that building the platform on its own loyalty pro- gram helped with personalization. Additional power came from the July 2014 acquisition of Vitacost.com, which gave Kroger a "solid foothold" in the pure on- line retailing of vitamins and health-related products. In the past year alone, the grocer has expanded in a number of markets from coast to coast, from Southern California to Atlanta, and even celebrated the launch of its 500 th ClickList location, in Delhi, Ohio, last fall. It rang in 2017 with the announce- ment that it plans to double the number of Click- List locations in central Ohio. All of the data powerhouse's expansions are planned carefully, according to Gary Hawkins, CEO of the Los Angeles-based Center for Advancing Retail & Technology (CART). e grocer is well positioned to leverage its "vast knowledge" of its customers to understand what services these folks want, and which shoppers are most apt to use online ordering. Moreover, Kroger is a master at using qualitative and quantitative customer feedback to continu- ously evolve and improve its online offering, which, at press time, consisted of some 40,000 products, including fresh meat and produce, as well as private label, which Wisner says few chains have effectively begun to integrate across all digital platforms. "Kroger is doing a good job bringing together the personalization they have become known for and making it part of their online experience," Hawkins says. "I can start building my online shopping list using items I frequently buy or have most recently purchased, or I can choose from sale items that have been filtered based on my past purchasing behavior, all of which make creating the list easy to do." Furthering convenience in this area, digital coupons saved to loyalty cards are automati- cally applied to online orders. Additionally, Kroger waives fees for the first three orders, which Wisner says allows consumers to learn the value of the service without the risk of los- ing money trying it. As Kroger continues to build on its ac- quired properties and integrate them into its fold, it's expected to carefully consider how any new addition can benefit its ecommerce capabilities — and vice versa — and better position it for the future, especially if the Har- ris Teeter deal has been any guide. "I think Kroger has a much more mature ap- proach to acquisitions than most companies do," Wisner asserts. "ey leave what works there and try to add resources where they have something new and different, and bring what they got from the acquired company back to the rest of the Kroger operation." H-E-B Regional grocer H-E-B has a reputation for not being quiet about its Texas pride. It's also known for the deep admiration it engenders among genera- tions of Lone Star State residents: Unlike many other grocers in Texas, San Antonio-based H-E-B has called the state home since its beginning, with locals relying on it for everyday needs since 1905. "ey do a better job of engaging their custom- ers in the shopping experience" than most grocers, Wisner stresses. at's especially true of ecommerce today: In 2016, the homegrown Texas retailer expanded partnerships with such third-party delivery services as Birmingham, Ala.-based Shipt and San Fran- cisco-based Instacart, making such services even more accessible to Texans across some of the biggest markets statewide, including Houston, Austin, Dallas, Corpus Christi and Waco. It also brought its Curbside click-and-collect service to areas such as San Antonio and Waco, as well as more stores in the Houston metropolitan area. Arguably, however, its most inventive ecom- merce innovation goes well beyond its borders — and evokes its home-state pride, too. In November 2015, the grocer announced that more than 50,000 shelf- stable foods, drugs and general merchandise products — an assortment larger than that of many online Profiles in Progress Ecommerce lone star tastes H- e -B's website enables consumers in t exas and 46 other states to choose from 50,000 nonperishable products, including a large number of t exas-made brands, for delivery to their front doors. Kroger is doing a good job bringing together the personalization they have become known for and making it part of their online experience." —Gary Hawkins, Center for a dvancing r etail & t echnology

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