A roundup of technology-driven tools that drive consumer understanding, engagement and conversion on every step of the path to purchase.
Last month, an April Fool’s prank – a husband startled to find his front yard filled with 41 Amazon delivery boxes – became a viral video with a million-plus views in four days. The boxes were empty, but the folks at Jersey City, New Jersey-based Olive Technologies think that’s a problem, nonetheless.
Led by Nate Faust, one of the founders of Jet.com, Olive is a fashion-site shopping and delivery coordination service that consolidates an individual’s various purchases into one cardboard/corrugate-free delivery. A user can shop from hundreds of fashion retailers using Olive’s mobile app or browser extension. The various shipments are centrally received, unboxed and placed into a sustainable shipper at Olive’s Northern New Jersey and Southern California facilities, and then held for delivery on a once-weekly schedule.
Returns can be picked up using the two-way pictured here, which is made with recycled materials (plastic water bottles, pallets, cups and polyester) and has an anti-microbial finish. The company says this system significantly reduces last-mile emissions and ensures that all the original boxes are recycled most efficiently. Currently the service is available in about one-third of the U.S.
In March, Durham, North Carolina-based QuickCollect Solutions announced a distribution and service partnership with Florence Corp., a manufacturer of smart indoor/outdoor lockers, that is designed to help U.S. retailers expand their contactless curbside and in-store pickup points. QuickCollect Solutions helps retailers determine site-specific system configurations and software user experiences. It has a portfolio of automated pickup solutions including temperature-controlled grocery lockers, drive-up stations and kiosks that automate the prescription-pickup process. Late last year, Albertsons began piloting its contactless lockers in select Chicago-area Jewel-Osco and San Francisco Bay-area Safeway stores.
In early March, Bluedot, a San Francisco-based location-technology specialist, introduced Hello Screens, an efficiency system that enables shoppers to save time when they enter the drive-thru, pull into a curbside space or arrive at a service desk for pickup orders. The system features an in-store dashboard that sends audio alerts to a participating retailer’s staff when the customer is en route, estimates a time of arrival and then alerts to the arrival itself. The system’s Wave feature lets customers tap on their phones to notify stores that they’ve arrived. Hello Screens is said to be a turnkey solution and simple to implement, working alongside a store’s POS system, according to Bluedot.
Late last year, Truckee, California-based Conscious Container launched a pilot program in partnership with Anheuser-Busch called “Refill My Beer.” The pilot is designed to collect 16,000 specially labeled bottles of Michelob and other brands in Sonoma and Marin counties. The goal is to demonstrate how the bottles can be sanitized, inspected and approved to be refilled with product and recirculated an additional time.
Shoppers who purchase the participating brands can later return the empties to specially marked bins, located in various stores. They can also sign into an app from Globelet, scan the QR codes on the bins’ signage, fill out a survey to provide feedback on refillable packaging, and learn how much trash they are preventing from entering landfills and oceans. Anheuser-Busch is partnering through its 100+ Sustainability Accelerator program.
DATA & ANALYTICS
Chicago-based IRI and New York City-based 1010data recently announced they’re partnering to “democratize data-driven analytics” for the CPG ecosystem. By leveraging the data, technology and relationships both companies possess, the partnership aims to help CPG manufacturers and retailers create more flexible supply chains, design more efficient sales strategies and optimize in-store and omnichannel performance. Companies ranging from 84.51 and comScore to Experian, GfK and MaxPoint are already in the IRI Partner Ecosystem. 1010data recently issued a “State of Grocery Report,” identifying pandemic shopping patterns that are likely to endure.
Boston-based Salsify and Chicago-based Label Insight in late January announced a partnership to enable “bidirectional data transfer” between Label Insight’s product attribute metadata platform and Salsify’s commerce experience management (CommerceXM) solution. One key goal: enable CPG brands to optimize their product attribute metadata for “need-state shoppers.”
According to the companies, 84% of brands fail to claim the top-three most-searched-for product attributes for which they qualify. As a result, shoppers often can’t find features such as “low sugar,” “Keto diet” or “cruelty-free” in their attribute-based searches on retailer websites. Combining a product-attribute-metadata platform (Label Insight) with a commerce-experience-management platform (Salsify) could eliminate CPG brands’ manual analysis and activation processes, which tend to vary among retailers.
In early March, San Francisco-based Zenreach said it was rolling out “industry-first technology” that will enable retailers to see both online and in-store shopping attribution from online advertising efforts. The new technology – part of Zenreach’s “Walk-Through Marketing” package that tracks a shopper’s presence, builds up a profile and then targets the best customers – is said to measure return on ad spend by factoring both online conversions and in-store visits.
Data can be segmented by campaign, location, specific ad creative or time period, and map visuals depict customer movements in real-time. Foot traffic is measured using a store’s guest Wi-Fi signal to monitor when a shopper enters.
Guildford, UK-based Eagle Eye Solutions has announced a partnership with Jersey City, New Jersey-based Neptune Retail Solutions to build a connected omnichannel ecosystem for Southeastern Grocers. Neptune (formerly News America Marketing) leverages first-, second- and third-party sales data to target offers and promotions to a brand’s most profitable shoppers. Eagle Eye’s AIR platform synchronizes and delivers personalized offers and digital coupons. The goal is to yield more than 200 million combined offers, coupons and recommendation variations each month that can be automatically loaded to card into shoppers’ SEG Rewards loyalty accounts and redeemable at checkout.
In late January, Aliso Viejo California-based UST launched “Walk-In, Walk-Out” frictionless, contactless shopping technology that enables shoppers to walk into a store, grab their items and immediately walk out. The company says this solution is being piloted with Retail Business Services, the services company of Ahold Delhaize USA. By integrating AI, sensors and cameras working together, UST’s system lets shoppers enter a store by scanning a QR code in a mobile app, shop and, upon exiting, receive a digital receipt in seconds without having to interact with anyone. UST says the system can be installed and running in as few as eight weeks, allows for more accurate inventory management, and offers insight into shopping habits and product trends.
In March, Perksy announced that its mobile-first platform, a first-party panel of survey respondents – “real consumers, not professional panelists” – was becoming part of the Nielsen Connect Partner Network. Perksy’s consumer-facing mobile app is particularly aimed at Millennial and Gen Z shoppers who can earn gift cards for answering questions.
Brands can execute quantitative and qualitative research including market exploration and in-store experience testing, according to Perksy. The company also claims that its “bot-prevention” features and gamified experience achieve engagement rates 40 times industry averages.
Shoppers who want their own analytics can turn to Everything Food, a data-driven platform and customizable comparison app that rates a half-million food products and brands, sorting them on price, dietary preferences and availability for in-store or online shopping. Recently, Everything Food turned its hand to TV production, creating “Smart Eats,” a show that might cause a few stomach aches for CPG marketers. “Consumers get tricked at the grocery store,” says Food Network chef Monti Carlo, pointing at breakfast cereal that’s preserved with petroleum or expired candy that’s being fed to beef cows. “You won’t believe what some companies are getting away with.” Yikes. The first season is available at EverythingFood.com.