I think that currently unexpected technology advances will dominate the news in 2019. We have already seen amazing developments with cashierless stores and drone deliveries that would have seemed crazy not too long ago. 2019 will likely bring more new ideas to make shopping easier and more efficient.
I also anticipate some customer backlash against the mechanical/technological approach to personalization and targeting and things like delivering offers when a customer is near a store. Customers will reject approaches that make them feel like they are being watched and then manipulated based on what they do. I envision a greater focus on emotional marketing and retailers using the data to understand and truly connect with their customers. As Shep Hyken said in his comment: Make people feel special and unique and you will earn their business.
Neither one really did it for me. While watching each one, I found myself imagining how the spot could have been better rather than celebrating how clever it was. If I had to vote, I'd go with Cost Plus only for the linkage to their store.
The cuteness of the kid in the Cost Plus ad was lost when he was "naughty" and kicked over the candy cane prop!
I like the technology to skip the lines, but the value of the system is in giving the customer control. Like a VIP pass, many customers will appreciate being able to skip the checkout lines...but I'm not sure it saves that much time overall.
What people don't realize until they actually start using this kind of system is that they are now doing the scanning work while they are shopping. Instead of tossing the item in the cart, each item needs to be held up in front of their phone. That's easy and fun to do when the tech is new, but I think when the novelty wears off, some customers will stop using it.
This really can't easily be compared to Amazon Go as this has far lower investment costs and if successful, can be rolled out to all stores fairly quickly. As far as H-E-B's likelihood of success, I wouldn't bet against them.
I don't see this as Kroger taking their eye off the ball; I think what we're seeing is what has always been there. Like a lot of other large chains, Kroger always has a bunch of stores that are ready for a refresh. The remodels are happening, but digital is quicker to implement, so the news is more about activities and improvements on the digital side.
I don't think there is any similarity at all to what happened at Sears. At Sears, it seemed like digital was supposed to overcome the problems at the stores. Kroger isn't totally ignoring the stores like Eddie did, they're just focused on making sure that they are in a dominant position as more and more business goes digital.
To the extent Millennials are embracing organics and more expensive healthy choices while also trying to limit expenses, higher-end private label allows them to eat better while limiting their costs.
The days of CPGs relying on their unique/traditional flavor profile to maintain share are over.
It all comes down to education. Even without a change to the text on the package, educating customers about food safety relative to Best By dates can help. Perhaps we need to provide both a Best By and a Use By date, so the customer has a better sense of the condition of the product and when it should be discarded.
The demise of Sears is something everyone, including I think Mr. Lampert, has seen coming for years.
I like Jeff Sward's comment about Amazon sweeping in to buy the shell. Amazon doesn't need the brands like Kenmore that Sears will try to sell, but they could use the locations with ample space and plenty of parking. I can't easily think of many other buyers that would be interested in large mall sites, so I'm thinking they could get the locations for very little.
The Sears locations would likely not overlap what they have with Whole Foods very much, so the new sites could help with reaching more customers with pickup locations. The Sears sites will also have much more space for warehousing and handling of potentially larger inventory.
This makes no sense for Gap. Customers that carry a Gap credit card are probably their best customers ... why would you even mention Amazon and Target?
I'm hoping that this was a surprise to the folks at Gap and that the idea came from the folks at Synchrony to drive more purchases with the card.
Everything about the concept sounds like a good fit for an urban store, particularly the focus on fresh foods, artisanal breads, local purveyors, produce chef, etc. With smart assortment, it can be a great place for fill-in trips or quick what's for dinner trips in the neighborhood.
My only question is the rationale for the "endless aisle'" iPad support. Giant clearly recognizes that some customers might be frustrated that some items they want are not offered. However, by trying to "solve" that problem in a public way through the iPad-carrying endless aisle associates, I think it only draws attention to the limited assortment. My preference would be to celebrate the limited assortment of the freshest items that are available just down the street whenever you need them. What makes this store so great is that all that other stuff is not available.
They can still communicate the availability of Peapod as a resource for anything else you might need. In fact, a great way to encourage that might be to offer a small discount on any Peapod order with your Giant Heirloom receipt.
Traffic is a key part of measuring engagement, but as the article suggests, it doesn't measure the quality of the engagement.
The real issue with measuring traffic is when the retailer begins to see driving traffic as the primary goal. Too many marketers have forgotten that the ultimate goal of marketing is to profitably drive increased store SALES. It's not to increase the measures of customer engagement.
Our experience is that personalization without a human touch doesn't really connect with the customer and doesn't motivate them. When you look at the results, you can see the data support for why something was recommended, but the reason why it was selected makes sense to the computer, not the customer.
The crucial time when humans need to be involved is BEFORE the algorithm does its magic. Algorithms work based on historical data. The key role for humans is to organize the historical data and identify characteristics, features or relationships that matter to customers, so that the resulting data analysis reflects that relationship.
There's a great quote from an article about 15 years ago by Michael Shostak on the true value of loyalty programs where he said: "The quickest path to building customer loyalty – and ultimately customer value – is by making it as easy as possible for your customers to do business with you repeatedly."
That is still true today, but I might add that you also need to make it "fun and interesting" to account for the development of technology and the desires of Gen Z. Amazon's Alexa and the Starbucks app are great examples of making it easy and fun to do repeat business.
We are still in the early adopter stage for online grocery shopping. For most shoppers, the process of creating the list online is not easier or faster than just going to the store.
More widespread usage will occur as retailers improve the customer interface and better leverage prior purchase history to streamline the experience for their customers.