Independent grocers need new consumer engagement technology
Another year and another call for independent grocery retailers to improve their relationship with shoppers. At the National Grocers Association Show in Las Vegas this week, attendees heard all about the impending takeover of shopper marketing activities by digital marketing tools and saw dozens of vendors selling solutions to get them to the promised land of optimal customer engagement.
The annual gathering, which was the largest in NGA history with about 3,000 retailers, wholesalers and industry partners in attendance, featured more than 40 sessions covering everything from path-to-purchase analysis to shopper retention programs. Like last year, the key takeaway from the two general sessions was that only by using digital technologies and by deploying social media strategies can independent supermarket retailers expect to differentiate their companies from the competition.
John Phillips, senior vice president, customer supply chain & global go-to-market at PepsiCo, told the audience about a near endless series of technologies available to help the retailer really understand consumers and their path to purchase. He then warned, "Digital technology is really transforming all of our daily lives and there are risks from not acting. Just look at Blockbuster and Kodak, which both had brand new markets to themselves and didn’t act."
As an example, Mr. Phillips gave a demonstration of Google glasses, suggesting that retail use cases for the technology included loyalty programs, store guides and instant promotions.
On the exhibit floor, dozens of companies were hawking the very latest shopper engagement technology, covering everything from loyalty to cause marketing. One example was Engage 3, which showed a novel web-based system that builds shopping lists from everyday browsing activities like reading recipes.
What digital technology tactics can independent grocery retailers most effectively deploy today? Which offer the greatest promise for the longer haul?