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Exclusive Q&A: Capgemini looks at grocery success during pandemic

Rich Minns
Rich Minns

Grocery retailers seeking to overcome the challenges of COVID-19 need to fine-tune technology across their entire enterprise.

Chain Store Age recently spoke with Rich Minns, North America commerce leader, Capgemini, about how grocers can assess and overhaul their omnichannel offerings to meet the specific needs of customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Minns touched on areas including CRM, payment, inventory, and digital order fulfillment.

How can grocery retailers leverage data to better understand new customers they may have acquired during the pandemic?
“First, grocers need to determine customer desires and required digital capabilities with a magnified view of all customer personas now present in this post-pandemic shopping experience. After they validate their customer personas across all of their stores and regions, grocers need to also determine how those personas require additional services or a crafted journey.

“Utilizing digital listening channels will help grocers address customer needs – not just for their brand but for competitors as well. Click stream data, search data, and purchase data can help achieve a more seamless shopping experience. Oftentimes, stores have yet to address regional differences of product names (i.e. soda or pop, this is a basic one, but there is a wide range of regional differences). Another area of difficulty is where stores struggle to nail down what category the customer is looking for (i.e. filet mignon can result in one butcher item and ten different dog food items… or worse no butcher items).

“Stores are not using critical data that could help really build a faster and easier user experience. For example, knowing a guest’s persona based off the first items they add to cart. A customer’s intention might change if they use a mobile app while traveling or if they select a different store than their standard store.

Should grocers expect increased usage of omnichannel options such as BOPIS and same-day delivery to continue post-pandemic?
“Yes, and grocers should make this process more seamless, easier to use, and include a preferred method of interaction. Grocers need to focus on how to improve the margin of these types of transactions like impulse, last-minute purchases, new item introduction, and content-driven messaging to increase average order value (AOV).

“These could be features like utilizing a mobile app to notify when a customer has arrived and while the package is being brought out, the customer has a small limited number of items they can add to their order. Or during that same wait time, the customer is greeted with a message and relevant content about new products that are now in the store. There are other ways to engage the customer through the shopping and pickup journey that can help boost these margins and offset the additional labor costs of BOPIS.
What technologies should grocers deploy to provide the type of customer-centric experience modern shoppers expect?
“There are several. Personalization and a more hyper-focus on the shopper’s journey at a one-to-one level is a great place to start. Customers are wired differently, and based on the time, customer device, location of the customer, movement of the customer, and first product category selected, different messaging and capabilities should be prominently displayed.

“Another is wallets built into a store’s mobile application that can also pay in store – either QR codes, connected to loyalty program, or even solely connected to a customer’s profile. This should be a priority as it builds the ability to provide true contactless payment capability.

“In addition, seamless but more robust age verification capabilities for online shopping and alcohol purchases, stronger authentication capabilities for shopper profiles (e.g. two-factor verification), wider payment capabilities online – such as EBT and SNAP benefits, better onsite search results with proper synonyms and variable search terms, more robust order and delivery status capabilities, and more flexible delivery options.

“Grocers should also have the ability to have multiple carts or build and order ahead capabilities. For example, I might have a holiday meal cart, but in the middle of it need to just buy milk, butter, and eggs. And don’t overlook stronger fraud prevention capabilities. Fraud saw a significant increase in some retailers for curbside pickup. Using data like location, car and license plate data, mobile profile data, and capturing funds at the right time will help reduce fraud.”

How can grocers overcome the type of supply chain shortages that occurred in the early stages of COVID-19?
“The challenge here is a grocer will only be able to react with what is in its supply chain and given the rampant demand of certain items during the pandemic, that can shift at any moment in time.

“Where the real benefit lies is with better data-sharing capabilities between consumer package good companies, retailers, and the retail shopping data providers. Data that is more real-time, with additional blended data from a global view, data from external sources such as Google search trends, weather forecast data or Amazon will help get in front of some of these supply chain issues.”

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