Digital transformation for grocery and supermarket chains is about looking beyond marginal improvements and reinventing processes, creating a connected engagement enabled by the effective application of technologies. It is not only about customer centricity, business agility, data intelligence, innovation and new value propositions, but also about reducing costs, streamlining processes and improving efficiencies across the transactional cycle by transforming. With the rules of the game-changing, grocery and supermarket chains need to rethink every aspect of their business – from sourcing and pricing strategies to inventory management, supply chain management, employee training and customer experience management. Leading supermarket chains in the USA like Walmart, Safeway, Stop & Shop, ShopRite, ALDI among others have already transformed their businesses by digitizing their processes leveraging the emerging technologies and tools.
Here are a few ways grocery and supermarket chains can enable sales growth, cost reduction, improved employee efficiency and great customer experience.
Grocery stores are more than just sales channels today. They are experience centers - extended arms of a business' digital touch-points. Supermarkets, thus, should strive to integrate innovative digital experiences to ensure an engaging and connected in-store experience. In-store digital transformation happens when grocers deliver tailored experiences to customers through a convergence of various technologies – for example, detecting customer location in-store, analyzing customer preferences through behavioral analytics, delivering context-aware and personalized advertisements on mobile phones.
Cloud computing in businesses running grocery and supermarket chains enables real-time access to critical operational and financial data across channels, increasing effectiveness, reducing expenses, and empowering improved decision-making. The major areas where this disrupting technology is influencing the retail industry are supply chain, channel operations, merchandising and marketing, and sales and support. Cloud Interconnected point of sale (POS) systems are becoming a necessity for most supermarkets due to the various benefits they offer such as centralization of sales, customer, and inventory data on a central cloud storage. Besides, cloud POS empowers grocers with real-time transactional information that is accessible anywhere through the cloud.
Physical robots are already casual co-workers in many shops, factories and retailers’ warehouses. Automation can also play a more impactful role in retail stores especially the supermarkets. As online sales in the US alone are anticipated to double by 2023, reaching nearly 20-25% of the overall retail industry, the landscape is facing numerous challenges that require a restructuring of business processes from top to bottom. RPA enhances speed, cycle
time, capacity and asset efficiency. It immensely helps retailers like supermarket chains in inventory management, invoice and contract management, freight management, and supply and demand planning.
The most outstanding characteristic and critical aspect of the digital era is not the shift in technology but the shift in customer behavior. Several customers prefer using various touch-points for resolving issues, expecting a seamless and integrated experience. The new-age commerce demands that the digital and traditional channels complement each other and be used together to enrich customer experience. Thus, grocers need to move from being reactive to being proactive, using an omni-channel approach to enable all touch-points to support customers in multiple ways - social, mobile and online, in addition to traditional IVR. Implementing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution is the key to having more satisfied customers and improved revenue. The new-age CRM solutions are much more efficient than the older ones; and provide not only information but also insights and a 360-degree view of customers' interactions, social engagements and transactions.
Leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) in retail stores will result in reducing lines, lessening the number of human employees, and significant savings on operational costs. For instance, Amazon AI has already introduced checkout-free retail stores. The Amazon Go and Just Walk Out shopping technologies react when customers take an item from the shelf or put it back. When customers walk out of the store with products, the Amazon account will take money for the purchase. On the other hand, chatbots are already in action to assist with customer service.
Rising technologies such as ERPs can be employed to create smart and agile grocery supply chains that can help these businesses not only boost the flexibility and speed of fulfilment but also optimize costs. With the right ERP solution, these businesses can enhance speed to market, provide immediate access to products, offer new delivery options, and provide customized services to consumer segments, while improving inventory accuracy and responsiveness. With grocery chains focusing on product distribution, fulfilment practices, speed and convenience of delivering products, transforming the supply chain has become an existential imperative for them to grab a secure foothold in an integrated marketplace.
In this ever-changing market landscape, the only way to be competitively ahead is to continually adapt to the changing environment and upgrade to the latest technologies. All set to transform your business?