TECHNOLOGY

Weis Markets steps up mobility

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Weis Markets is getting connected—through WiFi, that is.

Through a partnership with Aruba, a Hewlett-Packard Enterprise company, the grocery store operator is standardizing its Wi-Fi company-wide. The new network will be used by 23,000 store employees, 1,000 associates in distribution centers and headquarters, as well as approximately 6,000 who connect to the in-store guest Wi-Fi daily.

Rather than placing a controller in every location, the company has installed approximately 5,000 access points (APs) in approximately 205 stores, distribution and warehouse centers, and store support center in Sunbury, Pennsylvania. In addition to simplifying its wireless infrastructure, management and functionality, the upgrade will provide more robust connectivity, and reduce operating costs.

Within its distribution centers for example, the network supports a voice-controlled product pick system that helps associates select products quickly and easily. The increased picking accuracy results in a higher percentage of correct product on store shelves, improving the overall efficiency of Weis Markets’ inventory processes and ultimately, impacting the retailer’s sales positively.

Meanwhile, more granular policy and management capabilities enables the grocer to differentiate between corporate, personal, customer and eventually, IoT devices on the network. The network administration team can make configuration changes and update software across all store APs quickly and easily. Reporting functions will enable fast identification of excessive resource usage, verification of PCI compliance, and discovery of hardware inventory information. Robust alerting allows the team to identify any AP issues, rogue devices or network problems so they can be quickly resolved, according to the company.

“From an operational perspective, secure, high-performance Wi-Fi allows our associates in-store, and across distribution centers and headquarters to ensure that correct products are purchased, inventoried, selected and placed on retail shelves,” said Jacob Koch, manager of systems administration for Weis Markets. “From a sales and service perspective, that same foundation will allow us to offer better in-store mobile experiences for our customers, adopt more sophisticated app services so we can push out offers via our mobile app, and gain insights into our customers’ behaviors and needs.”

Once all AP upgrades are complete, the retailer plans to adopt analytics software that will help uncover customer habits enabling Weis to better respond to customer needs and, ultimately, drive increased sales. In addition, Weis will evaluate the use of push notifications to send relevant coupons and offers to customers who authenticate to the network. Other future initiatives might include digital product pricing on shelves, asset tracking for grocery carts, and even robots for in-store clean-ups.

“With our Aruba infrastructure we can examine all of these initiatives, as we’re confident the network will enable us to continue innovating and improving,” Koch added.

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TECHNOLOGY

Retailers need a Prime Day strategy

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon’s fourth annual “Prime Day” will run for 36 hours — a window that could benefit retailers willing to take the right actions.

That’s according to the “The AlixPartners 2018 Amazon Prime Day Consumer Survey and Outlook,” which also revealed that of the 63% of Prime and non-Prime members alike plan to shop on Amazon on Prime Day this year, 39% are allocating their dollars to shop for bargains at retailers other than Amazon on Prime Day. This is up eight percentage points from the 31% who said they made a purchase at a different retailer last year.

Prime Day sales globally were estimated to be more than $2.4 billion in 2017, making the event almost as ubiquitous to consumers as “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday.” In fact, 60% of respondents said they are aware of Prime Day vs. 88% who said they’re aware of Black Friday (the big shopping day in the U.S. that follows Thanksgiving each year) and Cyber Monday, the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday (81%).

Prime Day is so popular among Amazon Prime members that more than three-quarters (77%) plan to shop on Amazon itself during that time. Moreover, 43% of consumers in general said they also anticipate deals from Amazon-owned companies on Prime Day.

“While other retailers try to get in on the action by offering competitive promotional pricing, Amazon itself will likely use Prime Day not only to sell products but to deepen its relationship with current Prime members,” said Roshan Varma, director in the retail practice at AlixPartners. “Look for them to upsell their membership base to additional revenue streams, be it fulfilling the need for instant gratification with Prime Now or even expanding into the weekly grocery trip via Whole Foods.”

To grab some of the wallet share from Prime Day shoppers, retailers should create a “Prime Day Competitive Strategy,” one that goes beyond deals. This should include aggressive marketing (both leading up to and during Prime Day), targeted promotions (including “flash sales” and other excitement-generating offers), and fast and free shipping, according to the study.

“In our survey, 95% who plan on shopping on Prime Day say they plan on doing online research — which presents a tremendous opportunity for other retailers if they know how to take advantage of it,” said David Bassuk, global co-head of the retail practice and managing director at AlixPartners.

“For instance, last year 47 of the 100 largest non-Amazon retailers offered limited-time sales or messaging that included the word ‘Prime.’ Even simple marketing steps such as that can make a big difference,” he added. “But the Holy Grail is offering consumers a frictionless shopping experience that, while not attempting to compete with Amazon head-on, nonetheless offers the consumer an ‘Amazon-like’ experience but one that’s true to your own unique brand.”

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Amazon Watch: Weekly recap

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

In addition to revealing details about Prime Day, Amazon made the headlines for several other stories. Here’s a rundown:

Prime Day comes at a price for Amazon’s third-party sellers. For the second year in a row, the online giant is hiking up its fees for sellers to run Prime Day Lightning Deals during its 36-hour Prime Day event.

Amazon to print its own toy story. Amazon is taking a page out of the now defunct Toys “R” Us play book, and will reportedly print a toy catalog for the upcoming holiday season that will be mailed and also be available in Whole Foods Market stores.

Plenty of speculation about when Amazon will…. As Amazon preps to close on its purchase of PillPack, the industry is abuzz with speculation about when it will begin selling prescription drugs.

‘Emerald City’ Amazon Go in the works. Despite plans to open Amazon Go locations in Chicago and San Francisco, Amazon plans to open a second cashier-less store in its hometown of Seattle this fall.

Study: Prime Day to give back-to-school spending a big boost. Retailers are jumping onboard Amazon’s upcoming Prime Day event to kick off their back-to-school shopping season.

Study: Most consumers welcome Amazon’s move into pharmacy. More than half of Americans approve of Amazon’s decision to enter the pharmacy market — most likely because they think it will in-crease competition and reduce prices, according to a research report from Global DataRetail.

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