Safeway is using Big Data to build closer relationships with some 30 million customers, Keith Colbourn, SVP, loyalty and analytics, said during a panel discussion on Big Data at the FMI Midwinter Executive Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The efforts currently center on Safeway's Just For U marketing platform, which delivers personalized deals to shoppers, he said.

Keith Colbourn"The club card at Safeway has been around for 15 years, but it's really been amazing that in the past three or four years the acceleration of technology has allowed us to capitalize on this and connect with shoppers," he said.

Colbourn said another part of Big Data involves the growing consumer use of smartphones, tablets and other devices, and the ability to connect with them as they do pre-shopping research on the go.

Another panelist, Dennis Moore, EVP, analytics, Nielsen, said the challenge is to focus Big Data efforts on crucial initiatives.

"Most people think thoughts that are too big," he said. "You need to do things that really need to be done, like changing products by store."

More Midwinter news: FMI updates stance on GMO labeling

A third panelist, Michele Buck, president, North America, The Hershey Co., said the problem of out-of-stocks is an important one to be tackled.

"It's about how can we have an insights-driven supply chain," she said.

The panel was moderated by Wendy Liebmann, president, WSL Strategic Retail.

Suggested Categories More from Supermarketnews