Sunday, July 24, 2016

Grocery Store Deli’s, Restaurants, and C-stores Flush with Marketing Technology


Does it take to PhD to place a restaurant order today I was asked by an octogenarian.  No, was my answer but I could see her point. She explained that she was forced to push buttons on a pad to place a fast food order with her great grandchildren and was having trouble when one of her grandchildren stepped in to help.  She added all I want to do is talk to someone!  Not to worry I assured her; Amazon will soon be helping her out.  Amazon Echo will become the voice / platform she longs for.

Retailers today can’t jump on the augmented reality platform fast enough.  Consumer adoption of the augmented reality game Pokémon Go is just the latest marketing tool in retail foodservice marketer’s tool kit. Marketing technology has grown from Online Ordering, Mobile Ordering, hand held messaging, and now augmented gaming.  Retailer’s ability to interact with customers driving one on one or family branded participation has never been greater. 

Many Social media reports reveal that “Pokémon Go players are making their restaurant choices based on the availability of Pokémon in the area. And, restaurants are using that fact to attract customers. 
The game, which launched less than a month ago, requires users to go to specific sites to "catch" Pokémon. These sites can be anywhere from hospitals, to abandoned hot dogs stands, to a vast array of restaurants.

Augmented reality games the ilk Pokémon have three key drivers going for it; nostalgia, real time interaction relevance, and fun familiar characters.   Specifically the game appeals to Millennials, who remember playing Pokemon on their Game Boys back in the day.  In addition to a new crop of gamers who are always looking for something new. Remember Super Mario, Barbie, and the Ninja Turtles, there are few cultural icons with such staying power.” Look for other legacy games to develop augmented versions driving this marketing platform for the next five years. 
But then what? That’s easy. Virtual reality shopping with via your Amazon Echo that will be complemented with your Amazon Virtual Reality glasses. O’ that just what our team believes.  However Facebooks Oculus games and Microsoft Hololens are both driving forward with its consumer headset that allows consumers to get totally immersed in a platform.  Gaming, travel, and retail outlets will have the ability via virtual reality to allow a consumer to view in real time the cooking of your meal, watch the delivery, or scan the fields where food came from.  7-Eleven was the first company to deliver Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat food via Drone
What is your company doing to garner the next wave of customers?  I hope you are not building larger and larger stores expecting consumers to walk in walk around and spend hours shopping?  I hope you are not building a kitchen in the back of the restaurant without cameras. The next wave of food retail may just be come a chair in the dining room, a couch in the living room or a park bench waiting for a drove picnic lunch delivery.

Foodservice Solutions® team is here to help you drive top line sales and bottom line profits.  Are you Looking A Customer Ahead?  Visit www.FoodserviceSolutions.us  or Contact Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information.  Remember Success does leave clue and we just may have the right clue for you.  

Saturday, July 23, 2016

7-Eleven and Flirtey Team-Up for Fresh Food Drone Delivery


Don’t look-up and say get out of here if you spot a drone; you just might be saying Oh, Thank Heaven its 7-Eleven.  The next time you see a drone in your backyard it might be one from 7-Eleven delivering a ‘Big Bite, Slurpee, or Coffee and a Donut!  That’s right 7-Eleven is expanding its technology capabilities to include to autonomous drone delivery to a customer’s residence; and our Grocerant Guru® says Great Move.
Success does leave clues and like its core customers 7-Eleven is a dynamic company not static.  This time, the convenience store chain teamed up with drone delivery service Flirtey to complete the first fully autonomous drone delivery. 
7-Eleven reported that “This delivery is the first time a U.S. customer has received a package to their home via drone, representing a historic milestone, according to the companies. The delivery was conducted in celebration of 7-Eleven’s 89th birthday.” 
The report went on to elaborate that “At a Reno 7-Eleven store, two deliveries were successfully completed. 7-Eleven merchandise — including hot and cold food items — was loaded into a Flirtey drone delivery container and flown autonomously using precision GPS to a local customer’s house. Once at the family’s backyard, the Flirtey drone hovered in place and gently lowered each package.”
Time is the true commodity in retail according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru®. The purchases were delivered to the family in the span of a few minutes. Products included Slurpee drinks, a chicken sandwich, doughnuts, hot coffee and 7-Select candy. 
“My wife and I both work and have three small children ages seven, six and one. The convenience of having access to instant, 24/7 drone delivery is priceless,” stated Michael, the Reno resident who received the Flirtey delivery. “It’s amazing that a flying robot just delivered us food and drinks in a matter of minutes.”
Jesus H. Delgado-Jenkins, 7-Eleven’s executive vice president and chief merchandising officer stated that “7-Eleven will not stop at this single drone test delivery. It plans to expand drone delivery tests and work closely with Flirtey, .. In the future, both companies expect drone packages to include everyday essentials such as batteries and sunscreen.”
Delgado-Jenkins continued “Drone delivery is the ultimate convenience for our customers and these efforts create enormous opportunities to redefine convenience,”… “This delivery marks the first time a retailer has worked with a drone delivery company to transport immediate consumables from store to home. In the future, we plan to make the entire assortment in our stores available for delivery to customers in minutes.
All retailers grocery stores, restaurants, drug stores and the like must understand that customers have demanding schedules, most are on-the-go 24/7 and turn to technology daily for help.  Why would they not accept drove delivery?  
Domino’s Pizza had ovens in pizza delivery vehicles and there sales are soaring.  Can you imagine what will happen to 7-Elevens sales from customer trials alone?  Consumers are dynamic not static? What proactive steps have you taken for your customers lately?
Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a grocerant program assessment, grocerant scorecard, brand, or product placement assistance.  Since 1991 www.FoodserviceSolutions.us  of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or 253-759-7869
At KFC this was a joke.  But 7-Eleven has done what other only talk and laugh about.  Are you a Dynamic Company Moving with Customers?  

Friday, July 22, 2016

Grocerant Foodservice Pay and Benefits Upsetting Status Quo


Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat prepared food is driving top line growth and bottom line profits for companies that are expanding their fresh food options.  Success does not come easy as the competition for foodservice workers continues to heat up.  Many convenience store operators have targeted legacy pre-trained restaurant workers according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru®. 
One example is Thortons who announced that they plan to hire more than 100 employees starting at a new minimum rate of $10.25 per hour in the Louisville area.  That is up 12 percent vs. the current starting rate.  The minimum wage in Kentucky will go from the current $ 7.25 an hour on of August 1, 2016 to $ 8.20 per hour. 
Many restaurants in Kentucky continue to start employees at minimum wage.  Thortons has the ability to leverage one of the hallmarks of the grocerant niche Mix and Match bundling to offset the higher wage rate creating a platform enabling too recruit and retain a good employees.
Higher pay is not enough in fact Thortons has a bundle of benefits that it plans to offer including “Employee Stock Ownership Program, through which employees become owners of the company after one full year of service. The retailer also matches 401K contributions with company stock dollar-for-dollar up to 4 percent. Other benefits include bonus potential, group insurance, free meals and beverages, and discounts on fuel.”
Thorntons operates 183 stores in Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Florida and understands too continue expanding it grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food program that customer are migrating to it needs the ability to recruit, retrain, and retain employees.
Is it time that you consider expanding your grocerant niche offerings?  Are you garnering all you can from you Mix and Match retail foodservice offerings?  Is it time for Outside Eyes? Contact Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us  or visit: www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Chain Restaurant Customer Counts Down Brand Protectionism Does Not Work


Many legacy chain restaurants in every sector continue to practice brand protectionism and blame uncertainty in the economy, health care, weather on customer migration to lower competitors as a reason that sales are off, profits miss and growth has slowed. Nothing could be further from the truth.
According to the latest monthly MillerPulse survey, same store sales were flat in June as both quick-service and casual-dining concepts struggled to bring customers in the door.  However the big news was year over year customer counts fell 1.9 percent for the month.  That by the way was the worst performance for the restaurant industry since January 2014. 
Consumers are dynamic not static. Consumers have moved on and many restaurant chains continue to practice brand protectionism, obviously comfortable where they were 10 years ago, 15 years ago and some 20 years ago and still are today. That may have worked back in the day.  Clearly it’s not working today.
During the golden era of the restaurant industry 1960 -1995 brand protectionism worked. While the restaurants, flourished the grocery store channel was greatly diminished. The grocery store sector woke up and began experimenting with what I have termed the Grocerant niche.  That is to say they began to test fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat meals and meal components.  
According to Technomic in its Retailer Meal Solutions (RMS) Consumer Trend Report “consumers are purchasing RMS more often; 84% now purchase RMS at least once a month….  This increase is largely driven by younger consumers aged 18-34, who are increasingly reliant on foodservice in general.”
Packaged Facts estimates that the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food sector of the grocery store / supermarket reached $62.45 billion.  More Foodservice Solutions® team estimates that it has been out pacing all other sectors of retail foodservice growth; growing at about 7.5%  per year. Does anyone wonder where the restaurant customers are migrating? 
Garnering such positive results grocery stores are now expanding day-part food sales moving into breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  With each new day-part success the grocery sector is positioning for a battle of share of stomach like consumers and restaurants have never seen.  Is your company prepared for new competitors? Are you still practicing Brand Protectionism?

Invite www.FoodserviceSolutions.us  to complete a Migration Marketing assessment, grocerant program assessment or a grocerant ScoreCard. Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Convenience Stores Prepared Food Drives More Profits


There are times in a business lifecycle that everything that you do just seems to be clicking just the way it should.  At Foodservice Solutions® those times are here!  Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® has been pontificating the benefits of grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food since 1991.  He’s still right.  There is no doubt that a as a C-stores increases its grocerant niche fresh prepared food sold, profitability expands.

We are not alone any longer in a new report from Datassential, they found that “foodservice is the top driver of profitability for convenience store operators. Datassentials found:

1.       In fact, 77% of convenience stores claim that their foodservice offerings are “very profitable.”
2.       Foodservice is ranked very profitable by more c-stores than bottled and canned beverages (69%),
3.       More than Beer and alcohol (56%),
4.       Even more than gasoline (37%),
5.       41% of consumers are buying more c-store prepared items than two years ago,
6.       one-third of those consumers say that is because c-stores are providing a higher-quality experience and more variety,
7.       The biggest increases in offered items since 2012 are ethnic foods such as egg rolls, empanadas and sushi,
8.       43% of c-store visitors buy something that they hadn’t planned on,
9.       74% of operators have seen an increase in their breakfast foodservice sales thanks to offerings of hot breakfast sandwiches,
10.   The top of the list for food items with the greatest sales growth according to operators is pizza.

Without doubt we respect everyone at Datassential.  However success does leave clues and when it comes to helping companies get ahead and say ahead within the Grocerant niche filled with Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food.  Simply put our clients and our insights continue to be five years ahead.  So if you are prepared to Look A Customer Ahead call our Grocerant Guru® 253-759-7869.


Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a grocerant program assessment, grocerant scorecard, brand, or product placement assistance.  Since 1991 www.FoodserviceSolutions.us  of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or 253-759-7869 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Employee Respect Drive’s QuickChek Success


QuickChek is a family-owned company, which operates 143 locations throughout New Jersey, New York's Hudson Valley and Long Island, was named as the 2016 Convenience Store Chain of the Year by industry trade magazine Convenience Store Decisions
QuickChek Chief Executive Officer Dean Durling stated "Our mission is to be a 'Great Place to Work, a Great Place to Shop, and a Great Place to Invest,….This is a tremendous honor that reflects the hard work and dedication of more than 3,700 team members who take great pride in delivering total customer dedication each and every day."
Founded in 1967, QuickChek is regarded as a leader in the industry in key areas such as technology, foodservice, team engagement and innovation.  However what makes QuickChek special is the respect the company has for its employees.
The best example just might be leadership.  Michael Murphy, senior vice president at QuickChek  has offered to work Christmas Day for the past 40 years at a store so a manager (or in the early days an employee) could spend time with family. 
“I’ve always believed if I’m going to ask you to do it, I should do it first,” said Michael Murphy, it’s that kind of solid thoughtful leadership that has help drive top line sales and bottom line profits at QuickChek.  I know that QuickChek has raised its minimum starting salary to $10 an hour and offers employees tuition reimbursement but with all that comes respect for employees.  That is top in my book.

Sure QuickChek is customer focused and they have launched a mobile app allowing customers to use their smartphones to order, customize and select a convenient pick-up time for items ordered off of its menu.  When a company focuses on the customers with contemporized relevance and retains employees there is no wonder how they received such an honor.


Since 1991 retail food consultancy Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Foodservice Solutions® or for a Grocerant Scorecard visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant, www.FoodserviceSolutions.us  Email: Steve@FoodserviceSoltuions.us

Monday, July 18, 2016

365 by Whole Foods Oregon Fresh Fast Friendly


Whole Foods has been known as a different kind of grocery store for a since its inception.  One of the things consumers are attracted by at Whole Foods is the fact the company continues to evolve.  From the beginning the company focus has been on the consumer with a ‘halo’ of ‘better for you’ fresh food.  With 365 they have evolved into Fresh, Fast, Meals, with Friendly Service at its new test concept store 365 according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru®.

Without doubt at 365 by Whole Foods the consumer will find the ability to buy grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat meal components that are fresh, fresh prepared, and portioned for one, two then bundled into a meal for the entire family front and center.  

Sometimes service comes with simplicity and technology. At 365 by Whole Foods as you enter the store you have the ability to buy a fresh brewed cup of tea from a ‘Teabot’ or a have a beverage made with fruit, vegetables, and dairy just for you from the ‘Canteen Bar’ that’s an entrance with contemporized relevance.   
The fresh prepared meals are portioned for one or two and not only look good but create a platform for discovery for foodies from Millennials to Baby Boomers with meal offerings the ilk of Egg White Scramble with Sweet Potato, Carrot Cake Oatmeal, and Maple Orange Salmon. 

I know all of those sounded indulgent but none the less our Grocerant Guru® found that consumer believe that interesting bold flavors are deemed ‘better for you’. Remember that differentiation does not mean different it means familiar but with a twist. 

Worry not Whole Foods loyalist one of the stables of 365 by Whole Foods is vegetables. What’s exciting at 365 is they come in every form that a foodie today would desire including raw whole, cut and chopped, peeled and cubed, or as ‘spaghetti noodles’. 


There is plenty of grocerant niche fresh prepared food as well from premade hot and cold sandwiches and wraps to fresh prepared salads and fruit sold from the hot and cold station in a rather plain self-serve offering.  The salads, prepared fruit, and sandwiches were all tasty, fresh, easily portioned into any size.

Fresh food may be top of mind for consumers, preferred by consumers, but like so many other food retailers frozen food still has a role to play.  At 365 that role is highlighted by 365 branded frozen pasta entrees and side dishes meal components that can be mix and matched into a meal for one, two or the entire family.

Made to order grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food offerings were a disappointment at best.  365 by Whole Foods was lacking the excitement of consumer interactive participation that comes with personalized, customized, fresh prepared food. They did offer some including whole pizzas, Hot Dogs, and Healthy Bowls.

What Whole Foods did do very well was focus on meals, meal components, portion, pricing, and speed of service.  The small footprint quickens the pace of the shopping experience and that is in the minds-eye of the consumer ‘better for you’.


Interested in learning how the FIVE P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization contact us via Email us at: grocerant@q.com or visit Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant