retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to our story about the Kroger Edge initiative, MNB reader Steve Baus wrote:

As the owner of multiple Amazon Echos, including the Show (love it), who just started using it for my grocery shopping list, one feature that would help would be if the shopping list knew the locations of the items on the list and guided you to them in an efficient manner.  If only the maker of the Echo had a connection to a retailer and had some experience in the optimization of picking.

And from another reader:

Sigh.  I was involved in setting up these kinds of electronic shelftags in test stores for Kroger in 2007.  What is taking these guys so long?  I feel like this kind of technology might be extinct by the time they roll it out.

From MNB reader Jack Flanagan, on an other subject:

Recovering retailer here.

I read your comments about the just-released dunnhumby Customer Retail Preferences with a great deal of interest.

I'd love (but can't afford) to see all the underlying detail. That said, I think their insights - particularly with the fourth quadrant retailers is spot on.

As it happens over the past several months I've been compiling a number of the different (and somewhat differing) rankings in the supermarket/Rx/C-store space.

There is remarkable consistency across broad buckets (e.g. top/bottom quartiles) as to the majority of occupants of these buckets.

While there is much for statisticians to say about levels of confidence and standard deviations, when you boil it all down the (generally) top operators get high marks from several different perspectives.

Most of the bottom performers fall off the rankings as you move across to the non-customer perspectives.

While this is a Jack Flanagan blinding flash of the obvious, it doesn't augur well for those retailers content to sit on the sidelines milking their existing (but continually eroding) customer base and/or those who are dumping vast sums into CAPEX or in-store initiatives that are neither well thought out (and accurately assessed after they've had a reasonable time to stabilize) nor have ensured that the entire organization is in alignment to reinforce the customer experience.

And regarding the changes that Tesco is making in its loyalty program that have broadly upset many of its customers, one MNB reader wrote:

It seems Tesco is taking lessons from the US airlines, all of whom are redefining their loyalty programs to see how much more they can get from their best customers.
The change message to loyal users always contains a collage of buzzword bingo: “simplification for you”, “we listened to you”, “improved the value” etc., etc. to which I often think “Just exactly which loyalty member would say something that ridiculous?”  Delta Airlines is the US airline poster child in authoring (authentic) gibberish of this nature but they are often followed quickly by the other legacy airlines.  (Aren’t oligopoly industries wonderful?)
Loyalty marketing schemes are best run by marketers who use data to understand what customers value the most – not the finance department which has manage shifts in their P&L. Loyalty programs are quickly becoming one of the line items in the P&L where businesses look for savings, often alienating their best consumers.  Target has learned the lesson Tesco apparently hasn’t and pays attention to their RedCard data as a primary input into their merchandising decisions.

KC's View: