All Posts by Divyasri

customer picking out clothes from a shopping rack

Enhancing the customer experience beyond shopping

Enhancing the customer experience beyond shopping

With consumers changing how they purchase and engage with a brand, retailers have leveraged technology to re-engineer stores and experiences. The opportunities that technology such as AI and machine learning has brought forth has been tremendous, as are the business benefits for the retailers that are deploying them. This can be especially seen in the case of the grocery retail industry. AI has enabled brands to completely rethink and reinvent  the store, and to continuously entice and engage the new wave of tech-savvy shoppers. 

In the near future, it would come as no surprise if stores have AI-powered chatbots assisting shoppers with the location of their desired products. Taking customer service to a whole new level has been in discussion for years, but now the time has come for action. AI and machine learning technologies can help shoppers but benefit the staff as well. Hease Robotics has rolled out mobile digital kiosks in retail locations throughout Europe, enabling 20 times more interactions than stationary kiosks. With these kiosks, 'Heasy the robot' can scan a customer's loyalty card and show deals relevant to a shopper, as well as point customers in the right direction. The robot provides business benefits too, collecting data that can identify shopper pain-points and ultimately help businesses increase revenue.

The further development of self-service is also inevitable, and essential, as the checkout and paying process remains the most time-consuming aspect of shopping in the physical world. The future is in automation, and it is inevitable that the checkout process will become nearly entirely robotic. Eliminating shopping and queue times may seem like small initiatives, but given that the average person will spend nearly two-thirds of a year (235 days) waiting in queues over the course of a lifetime, these small knock-on time savings add up to big differences.

AI technologies don't just bring benefits to customer service; they can also help improve profitability in other ways. One is helping retailers set better, more competitive prices. There are many factors to take into consideration with product pricing. Machine learning, the core element of artificial intelligence, can analyse massive amounts of data quickly and correctly. Foxtrot, an omnichannel consumer electronics retailer, used AI-driven price optimisation software to do just this. As a result, the firm's revenue, and volume of transactions, increased by 16% and 13.6% respectively.

The multi-channel maze

While bricks-and-mortar stores and online operations bring their own benefits and pain points, an omnichannel strategy can help retailers boost their business. It ensures that companies align their channels, and recognise that customers shop in a range of different ways.

Having a multi-channel presence and joining them up means better opportunities to cross-promote. For example, online can showcase offline with virtual tours and images, whilst also providing helpful information like opening hours, events, etc. Offline can utilize online for in-store ordering and facilitate functional benefits like click and collect.

Superdry is one example of a retailer extolling the benefits of a customer-facing multichannel strategy, having made concerted efforts to join up various channels to better track products and orders. This has allowed customers to combine convenient online shopping purchases with visiting shops that provide inspiration and experience.

Superdry's multi-channel strategy has been enabled by ‘invisible', sophisticated technology. The company uses radio frequency identification tags to track stock and make sure that there are always plentiful supplies on the shelves. This helps ensure that enough products are available for shoppers. In addition, Chip and PIN iPads, available in all of their locations, eliminate queue times, as buyers can pay at any location in a store. They can also order anything out of stock for home delivery.

It's all about you

Retail has changed from being product-focussed to customer-focussed, and shoppers now want an experience that goes beyond shopping. Creative an immersive retail experience can be powered by augmented reality (AR), which enhances what a customer sees and experiences within a retail environment.

One example is Ikea Place, an app launched in 2017 that allows users to place virtual Ikea furniture into their own home to see how everything might look once assembled. The app is 98% accurate in scale, rendering 3D images to react to light and shade. This gives consumers a much more realistic portrayal when imagining new purchases in their home.

Beauty retailers are also recognizing the importance that AR is going to play in shopping. Leading make-up firm Sephora launched Sephora Virtual Artist, an app developed in partnership with AR company ModiFace that scans your face, figures out where your lips and eyes are, and lets you try on different looks. Users can buy any ‘looks' they like, and also benefit from virtual tutorials.

Augmented reality is still unique and surprising – but the brands that start to embrace its benefits will also be set to reap them. To create a sustainable strategy that will pay dividends, the technology should be implemented long-term – rather than just being used as a flash-in-the-pan marketing stunt.

The underlying technology

Underpinning these technologies and tools will be a reliable, resilient network that facilitates and supports them. Retailers must have a robust IT infrastructure that supports their variable business demands — whilst keeping costs down, to avoid eradicating profitability. This can be achieved by selective outsourcing, which will enable brands to focus in-house resources on value-added activities and help drive a competitive advantage.

Data maintenance is also essential for businesses to consider. As businesses gather more and more customer information in today's post-GDPR implementation landscape, they need to protect that data from network breaches. They must also maintain the intelligence to use certain information, like customer data, for certain things such as consented contact. Converged managed service providers can play a key role in the protection of this information, as well as ensuring that systems are operating at an optimum level.

Downtime will be crucial for retailers to minimize — and businesses must be mindful that this can strike in a number of ways. If a shopper can't process an online order, they will likely turn to a competitor to purchase from instead, given the wealth of vendor choices on offer. Similarly, if buyers are faced with shopping inconveniences, they are unlikely to buy from that brand again. In essence, anything that results in poor customer service will alienate customers — possibly forever.  

In order to survive in today's challenging high street, be it physical or online, retailers must create an experience that goes beyond shopping. They must also place equal priority on the systems that underpin these initiatives — or risk business failure.

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customer using loyalty card for paying

Importance of AI in customer loyalty

The expectations of consumers today from their favourite brands has increased ten-fold, and with big companies such as Amazon providing more personalised experiences tailored to individual user interests, have disrupted customer expectations. 

The loyalty aspect of the business is no exception. Traditional loyalty programs wherein consumers collect points to earn special rewards, offers or discounts has become universal. Brands now need to leverage new technologies to provide an experience that their customers expect or risk them losing interest. 

Here is when artificial intelligence (AI) comes into play. AI is paving the way in providing new opportunities for brands to offer to their customers with hyper-personalised experiences, leading to greater customer loyalty. 

Increase in AI involvement

From data-mining to powering intelligent insights to automating manually-intensive processes, organisations have seen the potential that AI can bring. 

The variety of potential uses of AI is vast. The companies that invest in AI technologies, are doing so to specifically improve customer experiences. 


Role of AI in loyalty

There is a lot of data on the internet. Every activity done by users generate data. Organisations, therefore, can obtain a lot of useful data about their customers. For instance, there are different data points that Amazon collects about their customers -

  • The frequency of customers logging on and when
  • Their browsing history
  • The frequency of their purchases
  • The time of day of the purchase
  • What they purchase


Collecting and categorising these pieces of information as well as storing it in the right place for a human would become an arduous and a time consuming task but not for machines. Through automation, AI can easily complete these tasks. Furthermore, it can even gain insights for the data.


This combination of AI and big data provides exactly what is needed to take customer experiences to the next level. Insights can be drawn and used to drive loyalty through greater personalization such as recommendations based on customer lifestyle, interests and activity.


Enhanced customer insights

Developments in AI have now made it possible to analyse this data to provide insights into users lifestyles and interests. AI can teach a mobile device to analyse its on-device image gallery to produce insights about its likes and dislikes, their desires, and their intentions for the future. Photos become a data source that can be used to align your customers with what your loyalty scheme offers.


AI as a differentiator

Metadata and understanding visual information will be the main weapons in the battle for customers’ attention. By leveraging visual information from customers’ photos, it provides experiences and recommendations that are personal, targeted and exactly what customers desire.

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Grocery Storefront

3 ways Grocery retailers can survive in the age of Amazon

3 ways retailers can survive in the age of Amazon

Retail giants like Amazon’s ability to effectively address the ever-changing customer demands has enabled it to make its mark in the market and eventually dominating it.

However, even though it poses a threat to other grocery retail players due to their delivery capabilities and effective customer service, the changes in customer expectations, especially in the last mile of the customer’s shopping journey, present a tremendous opportunity. Grocers willing to adapt their operations to that of the bigger players can see a gradual impact on their profits.

Here are some important methods that grocers can use to capture a larger market share, with greater efficiency and satisfied customers:

Strengthen customer relationships by focusing on customer service

Almost every customer values good customer service, hence it becomes imperative that the grocery stores live up to customer expectations. Small developments in the manner in which grocers deliver and engage with their customers can provide significant results. 

It is important for grocers to provide complete visibility into their orders at all times, meaning that customers can track the delivery from the beginning to the end. Here, customers may be able to make specific results as well as the ability to rate drivers after the products have been dropped off. With fulfillment increasingly becoming an important aspect of customer experience, features such as this become a necessity. 

Leverage brick and mortar setups

Grocers’ physical stores are the biggest advantage over a giant like Amazon, which still does not have a significant brick-and-mortar presence. This can be seen especially for deliveries that require faster turnarounds. 

Even though the larger retail giants have more capital to invest and have a significant amount of experience in the e-commerce field than most grocers, it is still tough to compete with a store that is located near the customer’s home. A physical footprint also aids the grocers to offer their customers options such as in-store pickup or curtsied pick up. 

Scale operations by digitizing the supply chain

Many grocers still use outdated technology for their operations, however, if they want to effectively scale and manage their supply chain, they require a scalable solution that provides a true status on demand. This especially holds true if the grocers are dealing with high delivery volumes. 

Grocers are gradually investing in automation to expedite fulfillments and deliveries. This, in turn, will also enable an increase in profit margins over 5% which is a great margin as the grocery sector has smaller margins and higher volumes. 


As with any disruption, bigger players like Amazon’s entrance into the grocery market brings with it not only a threat but a great opportunity as well. Those that act quickly to implement the latest technologies and strategies both in their stores and throughout their delivery ecosystem will likely find themselves on the path to becoming market leaders and customer favorites.

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Top view image of an assortment of beauty care products representing digital merchandising

Digital Merchandising for Grocery Retail: How can it help boost sales

Leveraging digital merchandising to elevate grocery retail

Merchandising is a core skill for both online and offline retailers. Merchandising is the skillful presentation of products in order to promote sales.  In the case of brick and mortar, merchandising mainly revolves around store displays in combination with assortment planning, packaging, pricing and offers, all done to entice customers into making purchases. 

But what is it about digital merchandising that grocers can leverage to impact sales? 

To begin with, utilizing tools such as cross-sell, they can easily set up basic online catalogs. Early themes and new virtual categories are then added to help as a guide for customers to navigate through large selections to find what they want.

What makes digital merchandising stand apart is its ability to generate data that gives a true insight into the customers’ shopping behaviors. It further enables retailers to track what their customers want and how they want it, scaling merchandising as a concept to new heights.

Why is Digital Merchandising Important for you?

Digital merchandising essentially mimics the in-store merchandising environment, only using a different set of tools to promote the sale of their products. Here, customers can understand more about the product without being constrained to its physical limitations. Digital merchandising allows grocers to impart more knowledge about the product via storytelling and more information about its usage. For grocery retail, digital merchandising can display several pieces of information including meal planning, complimentary food products, etc.

Here are some areas that digital merchandising differs from a brick and mortar setting:

  • Flexibility: Online content including digital imagery can be personalized at any time, unlike in-store displays which depend on store labor to manage.

  • Accessibility: Customers can access online content from anywhere such as from mobile phones or computers, and at any time. They are not restricted to the store timings and can do shopping right from their fingertips.

  • No Shrinkage: In the case of digital merchandising, replacing physical products with digital imagery eliminates the shrinkage that occurs with merchandising perishable products in the store. This way, grocery retailers can show the products the way it is meant to look like and are not restricted by the packaging of the products

How can Grocery retailers benefit from digital merchandising?

Digital merchandising is an essential part of a grocery retailer’s toolset.

Currently, grocery retailer websites showcase products by displaying rows after rows of individual images of products taken against a white or light background following up with a flashy introduction page. The challenge does not end here, grocery retailers must move beyond creating a product catalog.

For example, leveraging digital merchandising, grocers can efficiently market perishable products.

Real-time recommendations can encourage customers to buy items that have shorter shelf lives, thus enabling them to improve margins on perishables. Furthermore, they can elaborate on the products by educating the customer about where it comes from, who grows it, and how it can fit into a meal plan. The information does not end there, customers can even learn about health benefits and food preparation via video.

Connecting digital merchandising with your customers’ needs

Digital merchandising can help create environments to suit customer needs and interests. The advantage is the ability to understand customer behavior and even predict it to a certain extent. When the holiday season is in full swing, many grocery retailers out there would immediately pivot their marketing efforts toward ovens and bakeware.

If a customer has never bought or consumed a turkey, then the holiday theme can be centered around another protein. Also, selling salads next to raw meats in a store may be a problem, but online, they can be easily combined to create a meal plan or even a recipe!

Visually appealing product imagery already sets your product apart from that of your competitors’. That being said, the imagery alone cannot grab your customers’ attention. It needs to be followed up with a story that educates them about the farm that the produce is sourced from, the nutritional value of the meal and even recipes it can be used in or the story of the chef who came up with it. Social media can play a massive part here to help spread the word about the product as well as their journey in your online store. All of this information is to be organized in such a way that your customers can access it from one page. Finally, the online aspect ties to offline to the actual products that are delivered, making this a cohesive experience for your customer.

Conclusion

Content is clearly the king when you want to tell a story and connect with your customers. Digital merchandising takes into account how and why a customer will choose or like a particular product. Personalization is also another great opportunity presented by merchandising. Remember who forms your target audience while leveraging advertising. Grocery retail is all about selling ordinary products in the freshest and best way possible and we are here to help you elevate that by leveraging Digital merchandising.

Would you like to know more about us and how our category and catalog management solutions can your business? Click here to know more. 

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Shoptalk banner for Icecream Labs at the Startup street ss36

Shoptalk: Join IceCream Labs at retail’s community of innovators

Join IceCream Labs at retail's community of innovators: Shoptalk

IceCream Labs is going to be a part of Shoptalk 2019 which will be held on March 3 - 6, 2019, at the Venetian, Las Vegas.

At the world’s largest retail conference, ShopTalk, the entire retail ecosystem comes together to create the future of retail based on the latest trends, technologies and business models, including changes in consumer expectations.

Everyone who’s anyone is at Shoptalk! 8,000+ individuals attend Shoptalk each year from established retailers and brands, startups, tech companies, investors, real estate operators, media, Wall Street analysts and more - coming to learn, collaborate and create the future of retail with four days of relevant content, curated meetings, productive networking and facilitated social engagements.

Shoptalk covers the latest technologies, trends and business models as well as the rapid transformation of how consumers discover, shop and buy everything, ranging from apparel and electronics to grocery and luxury.

With over 100 groundbreaking sessions across more than a dozen tracks with important insights and perspectives shared by an unparalleled group of leaders and innovators, Shoptalk’s agenda leads the retail industry narrative.

Retailers or brands can also learn from peers in small roundtable settings by joining Tabletalks group discussions with the opportunity to improve knowledge of new technologies by joining the Hosted Retailers & Brands Program as well as Techtalks (open to all).

Thousands of individuals from hundreds of retailers and brands around the world attend Shoptalk every year to strengthen their knowledge of retail’s latest technologies, trends and business models as well as to collaborate with peers, startups, tech companies, investors, real estate operators and others in an open, friendly environment. Furthermore, more than 1,000 direct-to-consumer and tech startups redefining retail and ecommerce attend Shoptalk each year from major global hubs. Shoptalk provides startups with an unparalleled opportunity to form important fundraising, product, distribution and other partnerships with retailers, brands, tech companies, investors, real estate operators, media, analysts and more.

Join IceCream Labs at the Startup Street #SS36 to see some exciting AI-powered merchandising solutions for retailers.



man holding the smart phone, using the Augmented Reality buy some food in the supermarket

Augmented Reality v/s Image Recognition – The better bet for your business

Augmented Reality vs. Image Recognition - The better bet for your retail business

There's a lot of chatter around how Augmented Reality will change the way people shop. While Augmented Reality holds value, every technology created has its specific use case. Retailers and brands must bear in mind the several aspects each of the technology provides and select those that align to their objectives and goals. Let's delve deeper into each of these technologies -

Image recognition

Image recognition technology enables consumers to search for products by just taking a picture of them. These visual experiences are usually more flexible in nature when compared to Augmented Reality experiences for the following reasons -

No requirement for users to download an extension or app 

While there are some versions of AR applications out there for mobile websites, it's still a long way from delivering a seamless experience for its users. AR experiences that perform well often require a user to download an app. Image recognition, here plays a pivotal role as it enables interactive experiences within a retailer's mobile web, and not just the native app.

There is no need for creating 3D models 

Developing 3D models for AR experiences can often be time-consuming and expensive. Due to its complicated nature, it even requires technical skills to deliver the experience. Image recognition can be used with the existing marketing and web collaterals and can be implemented with ease. Moreover, the changes made to the content will automatically be updated in the apps, keeping the experience up-to-date.

Providing a universal and inclusive experience for shoppers 

Devices play an important role when Augmented reality is concerned. The experience may differ between low-end and high-end user devices, with the highest quality devices getting the best results. This is not an issue with Image recognition as it allows brands and retailers to ensure that their content is delivered to their customers in the same, interactive manner, irrespective of the user's device.


Limitations of Image recognition vs AR

While Image recognition provides the aforementioned benefits, there are certain aspects that set Augmented Reality apart from Image recognition:

Content is visualized in a three-dimensional manner

The type of content linked to Image recognition often includes videos, promotions, product information pages, etc. which often aids the customer's purchase journey by allowing them to learn more about the products and it offers at one go. In AR, the content is represented in a three-dimensional format. The content visualized is not three-dimensional, unlike what many Augmented Reality experiences build upon.

Image recognition provides a transactional experience, not immersive

If a user/customer aims to visualize objects in their environment, Augmented reality can be a good option to choose from, as Image recognition limits the user or customer to place digital content into the real world. This comes especially handy while buying expensive furniture - with a 'try before you buy' functionality. The customer can use the functionality and get a feel of how it may appear against a realistic setup - and nudge him or her towards a purchase.


Conclusion

To put it briefly, image recognition helps create a smooth transition between the physical and the digital worlds and help customers through a shopping journey. It allows them to interact with real products with the help of the images and the product information. For instance, it allows the user to learn more about a product's nutritional values, the user ratings, allergens, check for its alternatives, similar products, complementary products, etc.

On the other hand, Augmented Reality goes from digital to physical. It lets customers interact with virtual products in their own environment when, in fact, are not present.

While they may support different use cases, both technologies can provide customers with different kinds of engaging experiences.

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IceCream Labs at NRF Big Show 2019

ICECREAM LABS LAUNCHES SLURP.AI AT NATIONAL RETAIL FOUNDATION TRADESHOW

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

ICECREAM LABS LAUNCHES SLURP.AI AT NATIONAL RETAIL FOUNDATION TRADESHOW SLURP.AI automates the meal planning and grocery shopping process

New York, New York – Jan 14, 2019 – IceCream Labs, the leader in intelligent merchandising solutions for e-commerce providers, launched SLURP.AI today at the 2019 NRF Big Show. SLURP.AI enables consumers to quickly plan meals, purchase meal ingredients and personalise their shopping carts based on price, availability and dietary needs from their favorite grocers.

“SLURP.AI delivers a new generation of intelligent content matching by combining complex machine learning and product graph technologies. SLURP.AI uses machine learning, natural language processing and semantic analysis to create a dynamic a data mesh which links the product graph, ingredient graph and recipe graph. This allows for automatic mapping of products to recipe ingredients and helps suggest substitute and complementary products. SLURP.AI is able to fulfill several retailer use cases that weren’t possible with existing shoppable content offerings.”, said Madhu Konety, CEO of IceCream Labs. “SLURP is able to dynamically recommend products, both to the consumer, and to the picker”

“Our objective is to to help our grocery retailers and brands improve the consumer experience in a hyper competitive grocery market by improving product search, recommendations and personalisation”, said Konety. “When we showed this to our grocery partners, they were excited by the prospects of leveraging machine learning to process new recipe and product data in real time”.

For grocers, a key application for SLURP.AI is in helping ensure customer orders are fulfilled by ensuring pickers find the best products during the pick and pack operation and handle “stock out” situations. Typically, a stock out will lead to a lost order and lost revenue, in an already low margin operation. With SLURP.AI, the pickers can now quickly find substitutes that will still satisfy the customer’s needs.

In addition, SLURP.AI makes recipe ingredient data shoppable. SLURP.AI uses machine learning and a deep ingredient taxonomy to match ingredients to products within a grocer’s product catalog. Once the model is trained, SLURP.AI is able to automatically update ingredient references as new products are added to the grocer’s product catalog. SLURP.AI’s auto suggest feature allows consumers to dynamically personalise carts based on price, availability and dietary needs with just a click of a button. Reducing shopping time and improving customer satisfaction.

SLURP.AI leverages a model driven recipe parser to ingest both structured and unstructured recipe files. The parser is fundamental to dissecting a recipe for ingredients, measures, utensils and instructions. This parser uses the same unique, model driven technology as our market leading CatalogIQ solution (which can read and understand CPG product packaging).

Lastly, SLURP.AI can leverage its data mesh to help suggest complementary products. The use case here is in meal planning, when the consumer may want to know what courses (recipes/ingredients) go well together and/or to pair wine and beer with a meal/ingredient.

“As we advance the ability of the Intelligent Data Mesh to build relationships between different types of data, we’re finding new and unique applications for that information”, said Konety. “We believe that the grocery market is evolving quickly right now and SLURP.AI is a great example of the synergy between IceCream Labs and our grocer clients”

Leveraging AI-based retail solutions from IceCream Labs help to improve retail customer experience

We are evaluating partners for our upcoming SLURP.AI beta release. To get on the beta list for Slurp, go to https://slurp.ai/


About IceCream Labs

IceCream Labs is the only AI powered platform which provides on-demand Intelligent Merchandising solutions for e-commerce retailers, brands and marketplace sellers. We help you realize the maximum potential of your product catalog by boosting the quality of your product content to create an immediate impact on revenues and operations.

Several of the world’s largest retailers have benefited from our Intelligent Merchandising platform. Deep learning applications on the platform have delivered results with absolute precision, accelerating revenues up to 4X for our customers.

Our new catalog data quality platform consumes product data coming in through various sources. Applications on the platform continuously process and profile the content quality of over 100 million products and 50 million images empowered by our big data algorithms. This data is interpreted by our multiple patent pending Deep Learning models to cleanse, enrich and optimize your product content. The output of the models can be integrated seamlessly with your existing solutions to help you reach your business goals.

At IceCream Labs, we believe in the value of technology and its ability to disrupt traditional business models. Our Culture – like technology – is open and without any boundaries. We believe in the power of providing simplicity while managing the complexity behind it, by keeping our focus constantly on Innovation and Execution.

CONTACT:

Mike Oitzman

IceCream Labs

mike.oitzman@icecreamlabs.com

Web: icecreamlabs.com

Ph: 530-270-9466

###

fork truck loading a pallet into a tractor trailer on a loading dock

Leveraging AI to Improve the Supply Chain Efficiency for Grocery Retailers

Leveraging AI to Improve the Supply Chain Efficiency for Grocery Retailers

Food companies are increasingly prioritizing supply chain transparency and efficiency. IBM expanded its food supply chain network, IBM Food Trust, with Carrefour rolling out the solution to all of its brands worldwide by 2022 and Topco Associates, Wakefern, and suppliers Beefchain, Dennick Fruit Source, Scoular and Smithfield joining the blockchain traceability program.

Half of U.S. grocery retailers are turning to artificial intelligence to improve supply chain efficiency. Nearly two thirds of the 50 retailers surveyed, most of which were grocery executives and managers, struggle with a disconnect between systems, and 48% rate their forecasting technology as average to very poor. While they would prefer that each supply chain component work together, few retailers have established a unified process.

The challenge for grocery retailers is that they lack connected systems, with consumers indicating they have separate demand planning, replenishment, allocation and order management systems for store and e-commerce orders. Combined with the fact that a small portion of consumers indicating they don’t manage each of their modules on the same platform, disparate demand replenishment systems appear to be a significant burden to efficiency.

Retailers are being pressured to push past barriers and produce more accurate demand forecasts. The pace of innovation is a significant issue, with 43% of grocery retailers saying their technology can’t keep up with business demands. Forty-two percent describe less-than-optimal synchronization between their inventory and channels, and nearly as many worry about fulfilment complexities, stocking inefficiencies and high product lead time.

When they do invest in needed technology, grocery stores are most inclined to spend on supply chain systems that increase stock availability and decrease stock holding, as 44% invest in new technology because their existing systems are unable to sustain new growth.

In an effort to keep reasonable service levels, food retailers often tend to overstock, but then over course-correct and understock instead. While 43% say they’re challenged by lack of real-time visibility of overall supply chain inventory, six in 10 say they are actively taking steps to address this hurdle and increase inventory visibility.

AI and machine learning hold a lot of potential to improve supply chain efficiency, and forward-looking retailers are already investing in these technologies. Grocery retailers say AI’s greatest potential to improve supply chain management relates to quality and speed of planning insights, while nearly 50% identified demand management as one of the top three areas for AI in the next five years.

One in three food retailers incorporate AI capabilities into their supply chain management processes, and one in four are working toward that goal. Artificial intelligence has the possibility to provide faster, more reliable demand insights, quality management capabilities and real-time updates along the way, the study noted.

shopping cart filled with groceries in a supermarket aisle

What to Expect from Online Shopping in 2019?

What to Expect from Online Shopping in 2019?

Retail is changing at lightning speed and as we move towards the end of the year, as consumers begin anticipating what their shopping experience will look like in 2019. Retailers continue to evolve in a highly competitive world where delivery, customer experience, and convenience are the main factors that seal the fate of any store - forcing some into bankruptcy and propelling some into profits.

Here are five things to look forward to in retail next year, and most of them include technology:

More online grocery shopping

Despite having a small portion of consumers using online grocery shopping, industry experts expect digital sales to reach 20 percent of the total grocery market by 2025. Many retailers are partnering with third-party delivery companies such as Shipt and Instacart, enabling many consumers to order groceries from anywhere in a click or tap of a button. Soon, consumers will increasingly order online.

This includes both delivery and ordering online to pick up in store. It’s also expected that social media platforms like Instagram will continue discovering new ways to convince consumers to buy online.

Voice Retail

Experts say shoppers will increasingly pick up voice shopping through smartphones, Amazon devices, and vehicles.

Consumers with Alexa-enabled devices are already able to purchase their groceries, home goods, and gifts through Amazon and Whole Foods Market. But other retailers are starting to get in on the action.

Kroger recently announced plans to roll out voice ordering through Alexa-enabled devices and Amazon has released software that allows developers to integrate Alexa in vehicle infotainment systems.

More private labels

 Private labels have proven successful in the eyes of consumers this year. Dozens of retailers including Target, Kroger, Walmart, Aldi, and Amazon have expanded private label offerings this year.

Private labels are notorious for adding exclusivity that builds customer loyalty, all while keeping profit margins high without suppliers taking their cuts. Many of the retailers have passed the savings to the consumer with low-cost private labels that are increasingly growing in popularity.

Growth in artificial intelligence

Retailers have used artificial intelligence to learn consumer and market habits. The technology becomes increasingly beneficial for online retailers looking to upsell without a physical salesperson. Different subscription services like Stitch Fix and Kidbox have used AI to analyze subscriber data to recommend products that increase relevance and are more likely to be purchased.

Retailers are trying to use AI to expand holiday shopping earlier as well, learning what consumers will want most around the holidays as early in the year as possible. The intelligence can help spread out orders so delivery systems won’t become as congested close to the holidays.

More interactive aisles

As consumer shopping habits shift to favor experience, retailers are scrambling to find ways to draw crowds into stores. In 2019, augmented reality and virtual reality are likely to take a stronger foothold in all types of brick-and-mortar stores.

 For example, Kettering-based Marxent has developed augmented reality technology for Macy’s to show how furniture could look without having to purchase the items.

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three trays filled with salad ingredients

Personalization: The important role it plays for Grocery Retailers

Personalization: Why is it important  for Grocery Retailers


In today’s hyper-local and hyper-personalized consumer demands, delivering a tailor-made and individualistic message becomes extremely important.

They can be put off by irrelevant messages and the likelihood of them seeking products elsewhere increases. They want to buy from innovative companies who create better experiences tailored to their preferences and previous behavior.

While grocery has often been a leader in data and personalization, the focus was not entirely on creating a genuine and valuable customer experience.

To keep up with the ever-changing customer expectations and to stay a step ahead, food companies need to facilitate a consumer’s needs before they arise, and the retailers that capture on this trend, are more likely to succeed in the future.

Personalized recommendations is not a new concept. Spotify creates playlists based on songs that a user has previously enjoyed and Amazon’s recommendations based on previous purchases.

Personalized recommendations are not news. YouTube is recommending which songs we should listen to next, Spotify is creating playlists based on songs we enjoyed in the past, what day of the week it is or time of day, Amazon is letting us know which books we might like based on what’s in our cart, but we feel frustrated if the recommendations feel impersonal.

In a society with a unique sense of self, search with the term “for me” is growing exponentially and food companies are looking for ways to create food recommendations that will not let the consumer down.

Grocery retailers have recognized the need for creating personalized shopping experiences as well, but are still struggling to implement every step of a connected and delightful consumer journey.

Leveraging both the data provided by the consumer and past purchase behaviors can help grocery retailers deliver more personalized and meaningful shopping experiences, thus increasing customer loyalty and basket size.

In the blog post, we will explore more about why consumers expect Personalisation from grocery retailers. 

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