It used to be simpler.
Not long ago grocery retailers could drive marketing and merchandising decisions based heavily on their knowledge of local shopper needs. Customer behaviors weren’t changing so dramatically, store assortments were less complex, and technology wasn’t as advanced. There were fewer data points required to analyze sales and customer behaviors.
Today, however, food retailers operate in a world of Big Data and Rich Data.
Grocery stores are highly complex businesses with seemingly countless data points.
Retail executives have become accustomed to studying reams of reports that outline sales and transactions. Even so, they typically come away without understanding the full story. That’s because there are so many stories. Each customer has his or her own narrative, which increasingly shifts based on time of day, categories purchased, and who they are buying for.
Trying to cram all this data into a report, study it, and respond with effective marketing campaigns is no longer realistic — at least not for humans.
That’s why automation needs to play a key supporting role. AI and Machine Learning can reduce complexities and enhance decision-making for marketing executives. Automation helps match retailer objectives with the most relevant customers, most effective campaigns and promotions, and best messaging. And the good news is that today independent retailers have access to sophisticated technology once available only to big chains.
Here are five key requirements to achieve success in this landscape.
1. Embrace the new reality: Recognize that the grocery industry has become far more digital and analytical. Executives are more sophisticated about data, technology and automation. Independent retailers need to make sure they can operate effectively in this landscape.
2. Accept that a lot is unknown: Distance yourself from assumptions about shoppers. There is so much we don’t know. The more we accept the unknown and the reality that we don’t understand everything, the easier it is to effectively analyze and improve performance.
3. Know your goals and objectives: It starts with understanding what you want to accomplish. Marketing goals might range from rewarding loyal customers to reacting to a new competitor. Identify the challenges you want to address and understand your KPIs.
4. Be willing to experiment: Embrace experimentation even if it runs the risk of failure. Retailers have been traditionally risk-averse, but it’s hard to proactively move ahead without encountering mistakes. In fact, both humans and machines learn best when they can make errors and adapt for the next time.
5. Prepare for a journey: Effective marketing today is not about a one-time campaign. Retailers need to view it as a journey. There’s an imperative for ongoing campaigns and experimentation. Automation can help streamline the journey by running hundreds of tests and calculations simultaneously. Retailers need to aim for continuous improvement and work with a sophisticated technology partner.
AppCard is a technology company focused on simplifying the complexities for grocery retailers by leveraging its expertise with data, experimentation, execution, and reporting. Our focus is to ensure that campaigns and promotions are tied a retailer’s unique challenges and opportunities.
Speed is an important part of this journey.
Grocers need to identify shopper behavior shifts in real-time and respond quickly to needs.
Reacting quickly will help prevent a marketing challenge that no one wants — having to make big investments to bring lost customers back.
Co-Founder and CTO, AppCard Inc.
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