5 Ways Mobile Technology Can Help Make a Grocery Store Great

By Vladik Rikhter

Grocery Operations

When asked what makes a grocery store “great,” industry veteran Bob Mariano’s answer seemed simple enough: “A great grocery store is made up of great people that care about their customers and go out of their way to make them feel appreciated.”

But his answer goes beyond the old-school notion of smiling faces, clean uniforms and friendly greetings. Today’s customers are time-strapped, which has given rise to online grocery shopping and curbside pickup services from major grocers. This presents a 21st century problem for brick-and-mortar retailers: How can you make customers feel appreciated when they might not even step foot inside your store?

It all comes down to execution through the store’s ability to leverage technology. Contrary to popular belief, stores operated by “great people who care” and the use of technology aren’t mutually exclusive ideas, as technology extends way beyond automated self-checkout. Technology can and should be leveraged in daily execution to improve customer satisfaction.

Daily Execution at the Store-Level

Every day, grocery store managers are faced with execution challenges. These often include:

  • new product introductions
  • retail displays
  • identifying out-of-stocks
  • store cleanliness
  • food safety

The days of mindlessly pencil-whipping audits or pouring over sales reports well after the promotion ended are over. Customers don’t move at the pace of pencil and paper, and neither should retailers. Mobile technology offers the opportunity to provide 21st century customer service, through real-time, actionable insights.

Let’s take a look at the 5 challenges listed above and how real-time technology can make a noticeable difference in daily execution:

New Product Introductions

New products promotions are exciting for retailers and customers, but rollouts can have unforeseen challenges. Perhaps the wrong shipment was sent, the quantity is off, or the product was damaged in transit. Phone calls and emails aren’t the most time-efficient way to communicate such issues because they create extra steps for follow-up. Rather, a mobile platform helps document the problem at a specific store with GPS location and time stamp, and streamlines communication onto one platform.

Retail Displays

Related to new product introductions, retail displays are a critical component of daily execution. Again, the goal is to be consistent across locations. Imagine having the ability to roll out a new product and easily confirm on a store-by-store basis that the display has been set up correctly. Regional managers can use a mobile platform to easily assign this task at the store-level and include a directive to take and upload a photo to confirm the display.

Identifying Out-of-Stocks

With the rise of online grocery shopping and curbside pickup, the task of managing out-of-stocks is more important than ever. Walk-through store audits can help stores stay proactive against shortages while removing expired products and adjusting product facings. Everyone on your team will have access to the same platform, allowing inventory managers to know exactly what areas need the most attention. A more timely response to refill and restock makes an impact on the store’s bottom line revenue.

Store Cleanliness

Every brand has standards that they (hopefully) communicate regularly to employees, but mobile technology raises the bar on oversight and accountability. Are floors being cleaned regularly and restrooms checked? What about regular cleaning of self-serve areas like coffee machines and salad bars? These are all items that can be part of a mobile audit and by simply requesting a photo of store conditions, managers can verify that the job is being done the right way.

Food Safety

We saved the most critical for last. Grocery stores can have the best guidelines in place, but with regular internal food safety audits, you can ensure that guidelines become regular, routine practice. Through a mobile platform, upper management can see that food temperatures are being checked throughout the day, even as shifts change. They can also be notified immediately of broken equipment, including faulty refrigeration, through the mobile app.

Going the Last Mile in Execution

For each of these key challenges, the right mobile platform can help a team go the last mile in daily execution. The software can be programmed to alert managers when audited conditions fall below a measurable threshold or when critical maintenance issues are reported. The platform also allows managers to assign follow-up tasks to ensure that problems are resolved.

These are all features of Zenput, which offers real-time mobile and email notifications, so that critical incidents are routed to the appropriate parties and tracked to ensure that they are resolved in a timely manner. Additionally, Zenput’s detailed analytics and reporting features give you the insights to track performance and identify trends at your stores.

The Takeaway: Excellent customer service, quality and quantity of product, and clean, safe facilities show customers that you appreciate them. Raise the bar in these key areas and empower your employees to take customer service to the next level through mobile technology.

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