Merchant Innovation

Local Grocer Provides Personalized Omni-Commerce

Personalized omnichannel shopping is no longer just for big retailers. The 97-store Lowes Foods supermarket chain is about to begin testing a customer engagement platform that will give click-and-collect shoppers a personalized homepage on the grocer’s website, complete with personalized recommendations.

The pilot test, which is slated to start this month, will use a recommendation platform from Toronto-based analytics vendor Unata. The system will show shoppers a personalized page, complete with recommendations for frequently purchased items, specials and targeted content, then prompt the customer to fill an online shopping cart so the order can be picked up at a store.

The Unata platform will handle order management and content targeting, and provide customer service tools for Lowes associates, the companies announced on Tuesday (April 7).

“As a grocer who emphasizes a high-level of customer experience in-store, it only makes sense to offer that same level online,” Lowes Foods CMO Michael Moore said in a prepared statement. “We look forward to providing our customers with a highly personalized experience, demonstrating our commitment to our customers and making it easier for them to discover new products they will love.”

For Lowes, a regional chain based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, this kind of cross-channel personalization has a little more urgency than for most grocers. Lowes’ territory overlaps with that of Harris Teeter, a 230-store upscale supermarket chain owned by Kroger, the second-largest U.S. retailer — and Harris Teeter has been aggressively pushing both curbside pick up of grocery orders (complete with QR-code-based mobile payment) and omnichannel personalization.

The online-personalization-plus-click-and-collect approach also plays into several trends in grocery shopping, including more frequent shopping trips at multiple stores (which has fractured traditional supermarket loyalty) and computerized shopping lists (which have made it harder to sell impulse items). Getting customers to shop online with personalized marketing gives grocers at least a chance of recovering some of that loyalty — and personalized recommendations offer the possibility of recreating an impulse-buy environment.

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