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Technology Helps Put Consumers First

Current events were the entry point of the March 26, 2015 Coffee with CART session. The main discussions revolved around mobile payment, data privacy, online shopping, digital coupons, personalized offers and ibeacons. These topics have been at the forefront of retailer discussions and industry news. The Advancing Retail team shifted their focus a bit to not only what is happening in the news with these topics, but also what retailers should do moving forward with them.

With mobile payment becoming more and more accepted by both retailers and consumers, the first highlight of the session brought to light the fraud being reported in conjunction with the use of Apple Pay.  The article calls out the 6% fraud being reported, but the CART team believed this wouldn’t negatively impact the use, or growth, of programs such as Apple Pay. New tactics will continue to evolve on how fraud can be counteracted and what penalties are in place for those attempting to damage the system. The takeaway for retailers is that everyone has to be aware of what can be done to secure the systems. Retailers must double check with their POS and network providers, maintain their PCI compliance and clearly review the guidelines necessary to ensure consumer security. Gary Hawkins suggested retailers have a meeting with each party in the environment to ensure everyone is on the same page. He also reminded retailers that it isn’t just the payment systems, but also in-store networks such as wifi that need to be monitored and secured.

While the concern over in-store activities should be the retailer’s first priority, Whole Foods is taking the focus out of the traditional store format and into mobile grocery trucks.  The goal of these trucks is not only to help those who don’t have access to traditional grocery stores shop more easily, but also to give guidance on foods that provide more nutritional value than packaged goods. The mobility and size of these trucks gives them the ability to fit into areas that can’t house a large grocery store, and provide a more approachable atmosphere for those with questions about new foods and how they can be consumed.

These mobile grocery stores are one way of taking food to new consumers, but online continues to grow as the most recognizable way to get that done. Instacart was back in the news as they continue to grow their network. This elicits the continued discussion on whether retailers should develop their own online shopping option, or use a 3rd party provider. As Instacart grows, their pricing model has also changed as they search for efficiencies in the way they operate.

Consequently, as consumers shop online more frequently, it was not surprising to the CART team to see the news on the double-digit increase in the use of digital coupons for some of the bigger retailers. The question the Advancing Retail team brought up though was whether this use of digital coupons, especially in the aisle where a consumer is already shopping, is really urging additional sales, or subsidizing a purchase that was going to be made anyway. Yet, either way, it does show that brands are moving their money away from trade promotions to shopper marketing because often, the use of that digital coupon comes with some shopper data. This shopper data can then be used by the brand in the future for different offers.

Yet, as shopper information becomes more important to everyone looking for data driven marketing, stores are getting rid of their traditional “loyalty” programs. CART felt that for some of the retailers with programs currently, they aren’t viewing the program and shopper intelligence it provides as a strategic advantage. The inability to use the data correctly means the cost of the program is offsetting any benefit the retailers are creating. But the use of traditional loyalty cards may be the only change. Even Wal Mart, with their Savings Catcher, is pulling consumer data to be used in future marketing. Since a consumer must register with their phone, and must submit a scan of their entire receipt for review by the Wal Mart team for assurance that the consumer has received the best deals, WalMart is getting the shopping history tied to that consumer. That shopping history can then be used to build personalized, targeted offers.

These are precisely the kinds of offers that can be delivered via ibeacon. As the CART topic of the month, the ibeacon conversation during this session was more about what kinds of offers retailers should be considering. The team warned retailers to think broadly about offers, not only to create a new pool of offers that consumers can’t get anywhere else, but also to think of offers not just as discounts. Meal solutions, recipe ideas, nutrition information and other value-added information should be considered by retailers in addition to discounted prices and coupons.

As this Coffee With CART session wrapped up, the team left listeners with the quote of the week:

What new technology does is create new opportunities to do a job that customers want done. – Tim O’Reilly.

The quote does a good job of reminding us to think first about the consumer, then how we can solve his/her problem with the technology at our fingertips.


Why do I work at AWG? “I value the opportunity to work with family businesses. My dad owned his own business for 35 years, so it is what I know and cherish. Plus, I love food, so thinking about it everyday is a huge plus.” -Kate