Whole Foods Market, the $13 billion grocery giant, has begun testing a means of integrating online ordering with trips to its 350 stores in North America and the United Kingdom.
Install unified system for capturing in-store and online sales, first. Train dedicated staff to picking products in-store, for collection by customers. Designate specific customer service location in stores for pickups. Incent additional shopping with coupons delivered at time online order sent in.
Tech @WholeFoods: Rate of change will be faster in the next five years than it's been in the last 100 years.
Heading into the holiday season, the Austin, Texas, firm that made its name on marketing natural and organic foods has begun testing what it calls a “click and collect” program. Customers “click” choices of what products they want to buy online, come to the store to “collect” them, and, then, if all goes well, stay in the store for a greater experience. And more shopping.
Two “click and collect” pilots are underway now, according to co-chief executive officer Walter Robb.
“I think that's a very good way to leverage your physical stores because in many cases people come and what we're seeing in the pilots is they come to get their order and then they go shop to get some additional things on top of that,’’ Robb said at the Wells Fargo Securities Retail and Restaurants Summit last week. “So the basket is nice in that. It's early and the data is I think it's too early but I think there's lot of potential there.’’
The pilots follow in the footsteps of other large box retailers that have gone this route, ranging from discount retailer Walmart to liquor seller TotalWine.
In the Whole Foods case, it comes as the retailer of produce, dairy and other foodstuffs finally gets around to creating a single cash register system for all its stores. The “point of sale” system from Retalix will be rolled out over 18 to 24 months. The firm’s software allows retailers to keep track of sales to customers by item at electronic cash registers in stores, as well as through kiosks or mobile devices. The software also supports self-checkout and self-scanning systems. An “omnichannel’’ version covers electronic commerce portals as well and “consolidates all shopper data” into a “single unified repository.’’
This “gets us in a position to have a 360-degree view of our customer, meaning that whether we plug in e-commerce or social or we plug in mobile applications or we plug click and collect or whatever we do,’’ Robb said, “it will all work off this.’’
Ultimately, ”you have to set yourself up to be able to serve your customer wherever they are, however they want us interact with you, you have to be able to serve them there,’’ he said. “This system allow us, puts us in the position to be able to do that.”
This will let Whole Foods create a “seamless experience.’’
With “click and collect,’’ a customer at home can put a shopping list “up on the cloud,’’ then check it and send it to store, for pickup.
That means the basics are out of the way and “when you came to the store you can focus more on the experience with us. You could meet with the butcher or plan a party,’’ where face-to-face interaction matters. Or just checkout new in-store innovations like cold-brew coffee on tap inside a or the greenhouse on top of a store, the latter of which will happen in December in Brooklyn.
“As you're watching this thing evolve before your eyes, the rate of change will be faster in the next five years than it's been in the last 100 years,’’ Robb said.
The company did $15 million of electronic commerce in the 2012 holiday season and expects to double that this year.
The company is also testing same-day delivery in the San Francisco Bay area, with Google.
The company also plans to triple the number of stores in the United States, to 1,0900.
Tom Steinert-Threlkeld is editor-in-chief of CruxialCIO. His first computer was a Tandy TRS-80 Model I, which used a cassette tape recorder for data storage and transmitted information at the rate of 300 bits of data a second over an acoustic coupler. He founded Baseline magazine, in 2001, at Ziff Davis Media and was editor-in-chief of Inter@ctive Week from 1995 to 2000.
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