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Shoppers have sparked many changes in the technology side of retailing, from mobile and social media to greater reliance on data-driven applications — trends reflected in SN’s 2012 technology survey.
In January, at two industry conferences, two major North American food retailers both struck a similar chord in describing how they were structuring their businesses, and both companies pointed to a new emphasis on consumer demand.
“We’re moving to a consumer-driven supply chain,” said Scott Craig, director of supply chain, Delhaize America, Salisbury, N.C., during a session at the Supply Chain Conference, sponsored by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute.
“The customer [has gone from] being an afterthought to being right up front,” said Clinton Keay, senior vice president and chief information officer, Sobeys, Stellarton, Nova Scotia, at the National Retail Federation’s Annual Convention & Expo.
Consumers have generally been on the receiving end of retail and CPG manufacturer activities, which have tended to push products and promotions to them. But with the proliferation of mobile marketing and social media, consumers are increasingly in the driver’s seat. “Consumers are getting more control over what they want, where they want it and how they want to receive it,” said Bob Fassett, vice president, North America consumer products, retail and distribution leader, for Capgemini, New York.
For food retailers, this shift in control towards consumers has triggered many changes in the technology side of their operations, beginning with far greater attention to mobile and social media, as well as increasing emphasis on analytical and data-driven applications informed by consumer characteristics and demand. A recent cover story in The New York Times Magazine, “Hey! You’re Having a Baby!” described how Target leverages consumer data to figure out which female shoppers are expecting, and carefully steers offers for baby-related goods their way to sway their shopping habits toward the chain.
Those trends were reflected in SN’s latest survey of the technology used by food retailers, which forms the basis of this 18th annual State of the Industry Report on Supermarket Technology. The anonymous online survey was conducted by Penton Research, a division of SN parent company Penton Media, Feb. 13-24. Eliciting 46 responses from food retail and retail/wholesale companies, the survey covered the applications currently being used, and looked at what companies are doing with websites, mobile marketing and social media. It also investigated cloud-based applications, PCI standard compliance and ability to scan the GS1 DataBar.
As was the case last year, the survey drew the majority of responses from retailers with fewer than 50 stores (69.6%) and under $1 billion in sales (71.7%). The applications used by the larger retailers are broken out so that a comparison can be made between larger and smaller companies. In many instances, the smaller chains are showing a propensity for applications that are traditionally associated with larger operators.