Published on: March 18, 2022
MNB fave Glen Terbeek had his own memories of Irish supermarket legend Feargal Quinn, which he shared after seeing my piece yesterday:
I was fortunate to know Feargal for many years as he was a member of Smart Store's advisory board, and through industry association meetings, and of course the golf course. But I really enjoyed the times I spent with Feargal visiting his stores. And particularly the time I sat in a shopper feedback sessions he held in one of his stores with 8 of that store’s shoppers. He personally held these sessions every other week covering all of the stores again and again over time.
The session was focused on the shopper’s shopping experience (good and bad) starting with when they decide they need to go to the store, pulling into the parking lot, travel through the store, checkout, and leaving to go home. The notes from each session were communicated to the other stores to create ideas.
Frequently when I go into a store today here in the US I often see Feargal’s impact. From the up front manager’s podium to greet and help the shoppers, to marking produce ready to use today, to pricing produce by the each vs the pound, etc. It was all about the boomerang model as you mentioned.
To Feargal, the local shoppers were number one and the local store associates were number one as well. He didn’t have a headquarters, he had a support center, supporting the local stores. Feargal spent much of his time in stores. That says it all.
In many ways Feargal will continue to live on in the future. Thank goodness.
Agreed on all counts.
MNB reader Monte Stowell reacted to our piece about the new Whole Foods in Washington, DC, with Amazon's Just Walk Out checkout-free technology:
The store pics you posted on your article show a very sterile and cold looking store. This Whole Foods checkout free store does not appeal to me at all. I know the pictures do not show the whole story, but it shows enough that it would not be my go to store.
There's no question in my mind that this store format won't be for everyone. It won't even be for Whole Foods purists. If the store felt sterile, that may in part be because we were here at an off-hour … there were very few customers.
But make no mistake - this is a format and technology that is going to kick some serious butt down the road.
We wrote yesterday about Walgreens' testing of digital screens on its cooler doors, and quoted loyalty market expert Howard Schneider's dissatisfaction with the technology.
MNB reader Wes Horvath responded:
While I do find some merit with Howard's observation that Walgreens is off base on the consumer experience component, I really have to take exception to Howard's last paragraph, where he claims to find it "especially annoying" that Walgreens is testing this concept when shelves are empty and staff is reduced. He goes on to make the assumption that Walgreens is de-emphasizing stocking shelves and staffing stores in order to focus on this proof of concept test. "C'mon Man" as our beloved president might say. That's a real leap. What does one thing have to do with the other?
I'm pretty sure that, as a test of this technology, Walgreens will gauge consumer attitudinal feedback as part of their decision process. But of course they will also look at any sales impact of featured products, and measure ROI, incremental sales revenue, etc.etc. And if this technology proves it can boost sales by an acceptable degree, and consumers don't find it offensive, and there is an additional revenue stream as the retail media vertical expands, well, that sounds like a good idea. If not, Walgreens will obviously pull the plug.
I get your point, but I'm also sympathetic to Howard's larger issue - which is that Walgreens may be delivering a substandard retail experience, and that digital screens can't cover that up. I think that this is a fair observation, though I'm sure that there are Walgreens store that are not substandard. There have to be. Right?