NAPLES, Fla. -- Stop & Shop has seen an increase in store revenue over the past 12 months in a three-store pilot of a wireless, browser-based shopping cart device that provides shoppers with a wide range of applications during the shopping trip.
The device, a thin-client touchscreen tablet that Stop & Shop has dubbed "The Shopping Buddy," includes a scanner that shoppers can use to scan items as they shop. The pilot also led to a reduction in deli and checkout labor while leaving shrink rates unchanged. These results were reported by Bob Anderson, director of customer relationship marketing, Stop & Shop, Quincy, Mass., at the Global Electronic Marketing Conference (GEMCON), held here at LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort Oct. 18 to 20. The conference was sponsored by Retail Systems Consulting here.
Anderson attributed 75% of the return on investment to revenue gains and the rest to labor savings, though he did not provide specific numbers for either.
During the year-long pilot, Stop & Shop tested 40 Shopping Buddy devices in each of its three pilot stores, in Quincy, Braintree and Kingston, Mass. It plans to install the system in 20 additional stores in the first quarter of 2005. Stop & Shop is the first user of the system.
Shopping Buddy is based on hardware and store integration software from IBM, Armonk, N.Y., and application software from Cuesol, Quincy, Mass. It runs off an 802.11b wireless store infrastructure and employs infrared sensors to track a shopper's location.
Shopping Buddies are made available to loyalty card shoppers, who snap them onto the front of a shopping cart. Among the available applications, the touchscreen allows shoppers to place a deli order, then alerts them when the order is ready to be picked up. The screen also displays shoppers' favorite items, or a list created at home and e-mailed to the store. It informs them of favorite or targeted items on sale as they approach the items in an aisle.
Other capabilities include a product locator, price checker, and running tally of purchases and savings. "Customers love more than anything else to see that running total (on the cart)," said Anderson.
Shoppers who scan their products during the trip can complete checkout at self-checkout lanes at the front end. Many other applications are also possible, including meal planning, recipes and a guided shopping trip, among others.
The sales boost resulting from Shopping Buddy is attributed to more spending per trip by higher-spending/primary shoppers, and more frequent shopping trips by lower-spending/secondary shoppers shoppers, reported Anderson.
Primary shoppers "were already making more than one shopping trip per week and may now be consolidating more of their weekly spending at Stop & Shop," said Anderson. Secondary shoppers "were making less than one shopping trip to Stop & Shop per week prior to using Shopping Buddy and have increased their Stop & Shop shopping frequency since [Shopping Buddy's] introduction," he said. "I know that retailers are challenged to add extra items to a shopper's basket, but when you can add the extra trip, that is a huge win."
Labor savings are another benefit of Shopping Buddy, according to Anderson, who attributed them to its ability to execute deli orders and tally up scanned groceries. "The labor savings with the deli feature are huge," he said.
The chain has created a new concierge service aimed at assisting Shopping Buddy customers. Anderson did not comment on whether this represented additional or just converted labor.
"We have people in the store that wear red shirts to designate them as part of our concierge service," said Anderson. "They can help you scan items and enter a PLU for produce items. They've provided a tremendous customer support experience."