Grocery Industry News

Date Check Pro and Agilence Present: “Reinventing Grocery | The Timeline to New Normal”

Date Check Pro and Agilence Present: “Reinventing Grocery | The Timeline to New Normal” 1800 945 Natalie Tatum

Pinpoint Software, Inc., provider of the leading expiration date management solution for grocery stores, Date Check Pro, and Agilence, Inc., the leader in data analytics and operational reporting, today announced their upcoming webinar “Reinventing Grocery | The Timeline to the New Normal” that will take a closer look at the emerging trends across the grocery industry post-COVID 19. This webinar will be held via GoToWebinar on April 28th from 2:00 to 3:00 ET. To register and reserve your spot, sign up here.

With a combined 40+ years of grocery retail experience this webinar will be hosted by Pedro Ramos, Vice President of Sales for Agilence, Inc., and Andrew Hoeft, CEO & Founder of Pinpoint Software, Inc. 

This new co-produced webinar delivers grocers a data-driven perspective as permanent disruption unfurls within the grocery retail experience. It will cover the role cleanliness and safety protocols will arise as a key driver to sales, how former “slow moving” categories may be worth further investment, the role your associates play in future customer acquisition and retention initiatives, why a familiar business adjective to the grocery industry may emerge as a direct competitor, The DNA of the New Shopper, and more. 

“We know what COVID-19 did to grocery operations in the present; surges in online and curbside pickup orders, critical focus on cleanliness and safety, and larger, less frequent grocery orders. But what about the longer term impacts? We are excited to have teamed up with Agilence to glean knowledge from our collective data to help guide as well as predict where our industry is headed over the next several months and years.” says Andrew Hoeft, CEO at Pinpoint.

“This webinar is a natural extension of our partnership with the team over at Pinpoint Software,” said Pedro Ramos, VP of Sales at Agilence. “Both of us have strong ties to the grocery industry and we are seeing the frontline impact of COVID-19 on grocers of all sizes. Our plan is to present grocery professionals with data-driven concepts that they can incorporate into their business today, tomorrow or in the near future.”  

Grocers and grocery industry professionals of all titles such as operations, category management, merchandising, loss prevention and marketing leaders looking to better understand the future of the grocery industry following the coronavirus outbreak are encouraged to attend the webinar. 

For more information on Date Check Pro, visit datecheckpro.com. Pinpoint Software, the organization behind Date Check Pro, is a venture-backed technology company, located in Madison, WI, dedicated to improving operational efficiencies through software. Their products also include Taskle, and Stop Waste Together, a non-profit initiative aimed at reducing food waste.
For more information on Agilence, visit agilenceinc.com. Agilence is the industry leader in data analytics & reporting for retail, restaurant, grocery  and convenience organizations. Agilence develops a highly flexible and powerful cloud-based analytics & reporting platform that provides organizations with a complete view of their business, empowering them to make informed decisions faster, increase sales, and eliminate losses. Agilence, Inc. is headquartered in Greater Philadelphia.

 

How Shopper Behavior Has Changed During COVID-19

How Shopper Behavior Has Changed During COVID-19 1644 1085 Natalie Tatum

In a recent report from Acosta, researchers found that two-thirds of U.S. shoppers said they have changed their grocery shopping habits in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The report, Grocery Shopping during the COVID-19 Pandemic, dives into how shopper behaviors have changed in recent weeks following stay-at-home warnings and the panic-buying that’s associated with the coronavirus outbreak. To best understand this information, let’s take a look back at grocery shopper behavior in 2019. 

In 2019, one of the biggest trends in grocery was the shift in dietary needs. “One third of households have at least one family member following a non-medically prescribed diet, and this rate is higher for younger generations,” said Leslie G Sarasin, President and CEO of FMI. This shift changed the grocery landscape by influencing grocers to expand their natural and dietary restriction sections in the store and helped introduce new products on the shelves that fit the new needs of their shoppers. The other leading trend in 2019 was online grocery shopping, with  roughly 43% of shoppers got their groceries online, and visited the store 1.7 times per week, higher compared to the national average of 1.6 trips per week 

Both of these trends were expected to grow in 2020, but nobody could have predicted that a global pandemic would be the reason that both trends went off the charts. 

One of the most grappling statistics of the report is that two-thirds of U.S. shoppers said that they have changed their grocery shopping habits in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Comparing March 20-29 to March 6-12, shoppers in all age groups reported making significant changes in the way they get their groceries. The leading age group making changes was the Gen Z & Millennial shopper group, with 68% of those surveyed changing habits. They were followed closely by Boomer shoppers at 64%, and Gen X followed them at 64%. 

In addition to changing their grocery shopping habits, 72% of those surveyed shared that they have been implementing new behaviors like social distancing, a trend even some grocers have picked up on with the introduction of one way aisles. 70% of individuals surveyed said they have been avoiding public areas, and 64% said they have been sheltering in place and at home. 

Acosta also reported that top categories are changing, recording that 44% of shoppers are buying canned foods and shelf stable foods like rice, pasta, and beans, and more paper products. 36% of shoppers are buying more household cleaners and disinfectants and 36% are buying bottled water. 

Unsurprisingly, 9 out of 10 shoppers experienced out-of-stocks during their most recent grocery trip, with 47% of shoppers saying that they were able to find some sort of substitute for items that were unavailable. 

Acosta concluded their report with helpful tips for retailers and manufacturers during this difficult time, including suggestions on implementing new solutions that reduce the risk of shopper and employee transmission of the virus with shields, re-establishing inventory of core items, and providing creative, budget friendly meal solutions in store and online. 

For more information on the report and best practices during COVID-19, click here

 

How COVID-19 is Affecting the Grocery Industry

How COVID-19 is Affecting the Grocery Industry 1540 862 Natalie Tatum

Almost every industry has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurants around the country are almost entirely operating on a to-go-only basis, the travel industry is at a standstill, and retail has gone completely digital with over 90 major U.S. retailers temporarily closing. While many industries are struggling, the grocery industry is seeing the opposite problem. 

For those working in the grocery industry, you don’t need the news to tell you how crazy day-to-day sales have been during the COVID-19 breakout and related hoarding buying habits (does anyone actually have toilet paper yet?). As grocers scramble to keep their shelves stocked, we can’t help but wonder what impact this will have on shrink once COVID-19 has passed. 

Normally, the average grocery store has more than 1,600 expired items on their shelves in the dry grocery department alone. Now that stores have sold through most of their inventory on shelf following the COVID-19 spike in sales, those expired items have mostly been cleaned out. What is the best way for grocers to put together a plan to maintain this new level of freshness before expired items pop back up in stores? Date Check Pro has the answer. 

What Stores Should Expect From Expired Food 

In times of stress like this one, buying habits obviously start to change. While customers once bought a few items to get them to the weekend, they’re now stocking up on anything and everything they can get their hands on. Grocers expect to sell out of the basic items like: bottled water, chicken, meat, non-perishables, canned goods, milk, bread, and eggs, as well as cleaning products like Clorox wipes and disinfectant spray. However, the introduction of “panic shopping” has shown a trend in more unconventional products being sold in mass volumes. 

According to data from Agilence’s grocery reports, items like Sharpies and printer ink have seen a 10,000% increase in sales. Date Check Pro was able to talk with Raoul Ricard, VP of Business Development at Agilence, about what trends grocers are experiencing and what changes they can expect to see in the coming months:

DCP: What data has been most interesting to follow?

Raoul Ricard: “We’ve seen noticeable waves in our grocery data but it changes from region to region – even county to county in some cases. Four weeks ago, it was business as usual. Like everyone else, we started to notice toilet paper & napkins flying off the shelves but starting this week we’ve begun to see the trend of ‘replenishment.’ Consumers are now already stocked up on the essentials but they are returning to grocery stores for perishables and the other items they didn’t necessarily buy enough of. Deli items for making lunches for school age children continue to be a necessity as time goes on with the pandemic. What’s really been interesting is the weekly change in behaviors as this progresses. From normal business, to stocking up (canned/boxed foods and paper products), to work from home and school set up (General Merchandise), to replenishment (lunch for the kids, apple juice, bread etc.), and alcohol maintaining its increase.”

DCP: What unexpected items are selling out or spiking in sales at a time like this?

Raoul Ricard: “We have noticed that items like school supplies are way up in most grocery locations because most consumers are trying to condense how many locations they are physically shopping at. Products for homeschooling, such as notebooks, pens and pencils have dramatically increased in sales.”

With store inventory essentially wiped clean several times over, expired shrink will be low over the next few months. While shrink is normally stable throughout the year with only a few small fluctuations present, COVID-19 will greatly skew those numbers, especially since grocers don’t currently have labor hours being used to look for what’s left. Once stores are able to get back to their normal operations and sales return to normal levels and most frequently bought items, expired items will start to build up again. 

As shrink levels are down, grocers should feel comfortable pulling back from their spot checking schedules and rotation requirements. While close dates are still going to be present, the overwhelming surge in sales and speed of selling out doesn’t provide an efficient opportunity for spot-checkers to accurately report data. Products in the dairy and meat section can probably be skipped for about one month, and grocery can be skipped for about two to three months. Once shrink starts to ramp back up, spot checking schedules should return back to normal, especially with the high volume of dates that will need to be entered. 

How Long Before Expired Shrink Returns?

Take a look at one of our case studies with a mid-sized grocer starting from the day their store opened onward. Looking at a brand new store with completely fresh inventory is the best model we have to compare with today’s COVID-19 impact on inventory. From the data, we’re able to see expired shrink (in units) in a given month across three different departments: dairy, grocery, and meat. For each department, we see a build up each month, followed by a single month peak, and then relatively consistent expired shrink levels each month after. As you plan out resources for post-COVID-19 recovery, keep these timelines in mind for when labor hours should return to spot checking and proactive expired shrink prevention efforts:

  • Processed Meat – 2 months
  • Dairy – 3 months
  • Grocery – 5 months

How Date Check Pro Can Help 

With shelves being cleared and products being cleared from the system, there’s a clean slate for introducing or ramping up the way that your store manages expired food. For a short period of time, grocers are able to take advantage of the above trends to implement Date Check Pro at far lower than normal costs and move into the future more confident than ever in the quality of food being sold to shoppers. 

If you’re interested in learning more about how Date Check Pro can help your store feel free to set up a quick, 30-minute phone call or demo with one of our team members by filling out the information here.

What We Learned from the Grocery Edition of the 2020 Retailer Preference Index

What We Learned from the Grocery Edition of the 2020 Retailer Preference Index 1280 720 Natalie Tatum

In the third annual Retailer Preference Index (RPI) for the U.S. grocery stores, Dunhumby  looks at the $700 billion grocery industry to answer what drives customer preference for grocery retailers, which retailers are winning and losing and why, and what grocery retailers can do to improve performance and win more trips.

Dunhumby provides a new perspective on the emotional connection behind what customers think and feel and why they shop at certain stores, all with the goals of understanding how these perceptions affect financial performance and helping retailers better understand their customers. 

Here are the most impactful things we learned from the 2020 Grocery Edition of the Retailer Preference Index. 

Customer Needs: 

While a few pillars of retail move spots in customers hearts and wallets, the price pillar is undoubtedly the most important pillar for shoppers of almost all incomes. Behind price comes the quality of product freshness and accessibility to private brands, prepared goods, product variety, the store experience, customer service, and the look and feel of the store. 

After price and quality comes digital, with easy ways to shop online or with a mobile app and the usefulness of the information provided. Operations follows with managing out of stocks, price consistency, stocking the right products and providing clean stores. 

Convenience, coming fifth in order of importance, represents having the right variety of products and convenient locations that allow shoppers to buy everything they need at one store. Speed both in efficiency of shopping and checkout comes in sixth place, and discounts and rewards including the ease of redeeming discounts comes last in seventh place.  

Top Grocery Stores:

The following grocers have a value core that is most aligned to their customer’s needs, delivering them in a way that is most relevant to their emotional connection and financial situations:

  1. H-E-B 
  2. Trader Joes 
  3. Amazon
  4. Market Basket 
  5. Wegmans 
  6. Costco
  7. Aldi 
  8. Sam’s Club 
  9. Walmart 
  10. Publix 
  11. WinCo Foods 
  12. Fresh Thyme 
  13. Sprouts 
  14. ShopRite

When asked what word came to mind when these retailers were mentioned, customers said convenient, cheaper, fresh, good, bulk, and great. 

Changing Value Consciousness: 

Following the last recession in the late 2010’s, consumers based their purchase decisions on price more than any other pillar of retail. Shoppers bought more sale items and got used to buying at lower prices. Shoppers also spent less on food, not only by seeking lower prices, but by buying less food.  

Shoppers also ate out less and cooked more meals at home and made bigger strides in curbing their impulse purchasing tendencies. They brought more private label brands, leading to an increase of shopping at more club warehouses, super centers, dollar stores and limited assortment stores. 

The “Fun” Factor:

With the hype of micro-experiences only on the rise, it’s no surprise that more shoppers are embracing the “fun” factor of getting their groceries. Leaders in the fun factor include Trader Joe’s, Fresh Thyme, and The Fresh Market. 

The “Fun” Factor is typically associated with grocers who capture a low share of their customer’s grocery wallet and  who provide a limited set of categories and products. Their limited categories allow them to deliver a well-aligned value core and focused innovation, but limit how much the customer will and can buy at a given location. 

How Traditional Retailers Can Win:

With big box stores and retailers topping the list of favorite grocers, how can traditional, regional retailers win? The equation is simple. 

Strong private brand + highly relevant assortment + highly relevant promotions = success

Quality is driven not so much in store experience, but more so through an assortment that meets their needs and allows shoppers to get all of the right products at a convenient location. While Walmart, Aldi and Dollar General have strong competitive advantages in price perception, private brands give traditional, regional grocers a resource to compete with. 

While they tend to trail in price advantage, traditional, regional grocers have a clear competitive advantage in promotion, information, and assortment relevance. When surveyed, discounts and rewards scored most important for those in late retirement and those that are empty nesters, but the numbers were high all across the board with little variation segment to segment. 

The Retailer Preference Index provides sixty pages of valuable information for grocers, retailers, and shoppers alike. To download the report, visit here.

Raley’s rolls out Date Check Pro Management Software

Raley’s rolls out Date Check Pro Management Software 1280 545 Andrew Hoeft

West Sacramento, CA – Raley’s has implemented Date Check Pro expiration date management software in all of its locations after a successful pilot program in the Sacramento area division last spring.

With a focus on providing the freshest and highest-quality products to its customers, Raley’s sought after a technology-based solution to support inventory management. The company previously enhanced their operational efforts for out of code items to include extensive team member training and auditing processes to best manage disposing of such items.

Date Check Pro is a software solution for expiration date management, creating consistency and accountability where traditional rotation and spot checking methods can be missed by human error. The program provides real-time updates and proactive notifications on close-dated inventory that allow Raley’s to provide customers with a fresh, quality experience, and recoup savings on what would have been expired shrink.

The results from the initial 18-store district pilot were positive, with a 15% reduction in known expired shrink. Additional benefits included better classification of shrink as expired loss rather than unknown loss, standardized methodologies to manage category/SKU specific inventory weekly, and visibility coupled with accountability into store level execution.

“Date Check Pro is not only a great partner in operations, but also a trusted consultant on our existing markdown and expired item loss prevention strategies,” said Matt Hilbrink, Director of Asset Protection. “They are genuine advocates for our business, and, in addition to their software, they provide us with new and interesting ways that we can provide our customers with an exceptional experience.”

5 Industry Trends that You Can Embrace – while Remaining a Community Staple

5 Industry Trends that You Can Embrace – while Remaining a Community Staple 720 480 Andrew Hoeft

When you take a look at the grocery industry, it seems like there are two types of grocery stores. One, the mega-grocer, with thousands and thousands of square feet, an inconceivable number of items on the shelf, masses of harried employees, inexpensive prices, and the latest retail technology implemented in each of their hundreds of stores. The other, a community grocer, one with a penchant for getting to know customers on a personal level, with a curated selection of high-quality goods at a bit of a higher price, and an in-store experience that rivals retail pop up shops across the country.

For a while now, the venn diagram of these grocers existed as two separate circles. However, there are new retail innovations afoot that are pushing these two concepts closer together in ways that can actually benefit the independent grocer.

You see, mega-grocers may have the financial advantage, able to implement new technology without a second thought, but they find it much more difficult to get their hundreds (if not thousands) of new employees on the same page when it comes to a new in-store initiative.

Community grocers already have the more complicated personal piece covered. Now, in this new world of possibilities, they actually have an advantage. There are a plethora of trends exploding in the retail space right now, and if community grocers can choose one or two and go all in on, they can race to the forefront of the industry – while giving their customers the optimum experience that they’ve come to expect.

 

5 Industry Trends that Independent Grocers Should Embrace

Not every trend is a great fit for a community or independent grocer. Technological advances like AI, body-scanning, and creating a broad omni-channel operation may not make a lot of sense for an independent grocer with a handful of stores. Instead, focus on the trends that will have a direct impact on your customers. Here are our top 5:

 

Sustainability

It’s no longer enough for grocers to have a small organic section in their store. Sustainability has become a full-fledged movement, encompassing the interests of the majority of your shoppers.

Confectionary News put it this way: “What we used to consider the fringe is in fact moving to the middle.”

The green consumer is now the norm.

So what advancements do you need to make as an independent grocer in order to be known in your community as a supporter of sustainability? The first step is taking a look at your supply chain.

The products that you stock in your store will be the first thing that a concerned customer will examine. He or she will want to know if the product was produced in a sustainable way, if the packaging is recyclable or reusable, if the workers who produced the product were paid fairly, and if the food itself is a sustainable item. Make an effort to work only with suppliers who have similar sustainability standards to your stores so that your customers know what to expect when they’re shopping your shelves.

Next, consider your in-store sustainability initiatives. Are you focused on the waste that your store is producing? Feeding America states that 52 billion pounds of food is wasted by manufacturers, grocery stores, and restaurants alone. To reduce your store’s impact, think about adding a food waste prevention program like Stop Waste Together to your repertoire. A program like this not only allows you to reduce your effect on the environment, but also lets you educate your customers about the work that you’re doing to make a difference.

 

Investing in people

As a community grocer, you’re probably already aware of the importance of treating your employees just as well as your customers, particularly your first-time, entry-level employees.

This focus on employee well-being is a positive trend in the retail industry. While many traditional supermarkets are looking to tech for solutions, H-E-B recently spoke about the internal changes that they’ve made to promote hiring of highly-skilled employees in their stores.

They’re following your lead. You are already hyper-aware of what your employees need to succeed. Now is the time to go all in on this concept and level up. Invest in your employees through extensive training that allows them not only to gain customer service skills, become on-the-floor experts, and complete their tasks efficiently, you’re also setting them up for success as valuable community members and as potential executives in your own company.

 

Click-and-Collect

You may not think that you need to get in on the e-commerce action as an independent grocer, but it’s a growing revenue stream that you should think about taking advantage of this year.

Rakuten Intelligence found that online shopping is projected to increase at 10 times the rate of in-store sales throughout the next five years. The Food Marketing Institute and Nielsen back up this claim with a projection that says click-and-collect will have 70% penetration in as little as four years.

This is one aspect of retail technology that you can’t afford to pass on as an independent grocer. Your customers are already familiar with this technology, as they use it at other retailers in every industry, and they’re going to start expecting it from you as well. Now is the time to figure out the kinks so that when click-and-collect is a necessity, you’re already doing it at a high-level.

 

Smaller store formats

Here’s another area where you have an advantage as an independent grocer: customers are overwhelmed by choice. Mega-grocers are no longer the gold standard in this industry, with their shelves upon shelves of products that are barely differentiated. The grocery industry is shifting to a smaller store size. In fact, average sales area has been shrinking by 15% since 2010.

While it’s likely that you’re already feeling the benefits of a smaller store format, especially in comparison to big box stores and supermarkets, it could be worth it to consider whether you could provide an even more curated experience for your customers.

Instead of having a cooler full of meat for customers to choose from, could you provide a meat-slicing station where they could get custom cuts? Would a pop up shop with local fares make sense in your store? Think about the ways that you can make your store a go-to destination for your customers, while maintaining a community-focused feeling.

 

Meal kits

Meal kits have become a popular purchase in grocery stores across the country, from big box brands to independent grocers. Though prepared food options have always been an enticing option, there is a specific appeal to a meal kit. Customers feel like they are able to create something a bit more gourmet, without the hassle of finding a recipe or searching your store for each specific ingredient.

The ideal way to integrate meal kits into your store’s offerings is to create your own private label version and use geographically-relevant recipes. However, you can also partner with a larger company that is already in the meal kit business to seamlessly bring this trendy item to your store.

The time is now to jump on the meal kit trend. Neilsen data indicated that meal kits had seen 36% growth in just under a year. A survey of 43,000 consumers in late 2018 found 12% of consumers had purchased meal kits in the past six months, and in-store purchases accounted for 60% of the growth in meal kit sales.

 

What Does it Mean to be a Community Grocer in 2020?

Earth Day 2019: 5 Tips to Diminish Food Waste

Earth Day 2019: 5 Tips to Diminish Food Waste 720 480 Emma Leuman

On Earth Day 2019, the challenges that our environment is facing are more prominent than ever. The modern news cycle keeps us aware of every imminent threat to the health of our planet, and it can be overwhelming to consider the far-reaching consequences of every action we take.

As a member of the grocery industry, we’ve chosen to use this day to focus on a key issue that our community is contributing to, and has the power to change: food waste.

read more

The State of Customer Loyalty in 2019 | Date Check Pro

The State of Customer Loyalty in 2019

The State of Customer Loyalty in 2019 720 480 Andrew Hoeft

The rules of retail are changing – and you’re probably tired of hearing about it.

Customer loyalty used to be a given if you were located in a typical suburban area. Shoppers weren’t able to easily access your competitors, and yours was the store that happened to be on their drive home. Now, customers are just a few clicks away from their material desires (including grocery items!), and many industry experts have predicted the fall of brick-and-mortar retailers.

read more

Where is Retail Headed in 2019? Experts Describe Their Predictions in One Word

Where is Retail Headed in 2019? Experts Describe Their Predictions in One Word 720 480 Emma Leuman

If we could look into a crystal ball and predict upcoming retail trends, well, we probably wouldn’t be here writing this blog post.

Though we don’t have psychic abilities, we do have the power of research on our side. After spending time with some of retail’s most influential experts at National Retail Federation’s Big Show 2019, we are fairly certain of the direction that retail is headed this year.

read more

3 Key Takeaways from NRF 2019

3 Key Takeaways from NRF 2019 720 480 Emma Leuman

The world of retail is ever-changing. With each year comes a new host of strategies and tactics to consider, new ways to understand consumer thoughts and purchasing habits, and new technology that sets out to make us more efficient and effective.

The one event that sets the stage for the upcoming year in retail is the National Retail Federation (NRF) Big Show, which just concluded its 2019 event. While we took away many lessons about how grocers should adapt to changes within the world of retail, there were a few overarching takeaways that we wanted to call out that affect the entire industry.

read more