Retail Pulse: H-E-B Rolls Out New App; Jimmy John’s Launches Loyalty Program

H-E-B store

Grocery retailers are making it easier for consumers to shop with their mobile devices through digital innovations. Texas-based grocery chain H-E-B, in one case, is rolling out a new app that the company says is one of many technologies that it will use “to enhance its digital services to better meet the evolving needs and expectations” of online and in-store customers.

Chief Digital Officer Jag Bath said per a post, “The new My H-E-B mobile app is a perfect example of how we are investing in new technologies to enhance our digital services and establish H-E-B as a digital retail leader.” Bath also noted, “We continue to grow our talented H-E-B Digital team in Austin and at our company headquarters in San Antonio to deliver on this investment and provide the best possible digital experience to our customers and Partners.”

The company’s new app joins together dozens of new features the company says makes it “more convenient and simpler to shop and provides more ways to save.” Shoppers can place home delivery or Curbside pickup orders through a single mobile app. In-store shoppers can also clip as well as redeem coupons, browse the store with an enhanced search function, and discover the locations of items. “From the moment the app is opened, customers will notice a more streamlined shopping experience,” the retailer said.

H-E-B continues growing its digital offerings like H-E-B Home Delivery and H-E-B Curbside, along with its acquisition of on-demand delivery service Favor. The company says it is “embracing” mobile apps for both shoppers as well as employees. H-E-B Digital Chief Product Officer Mike Georgoff said in the announcement, “This is just the beginning of how we’re looking to redefine how our customers shop with us. Our goal is to create an easier, more enjoyable shopping experience.”

Beyond H-E-B, other grocery chains are aiming to drive innovation to help change the way consumers shop in-store and through the web. Kroger, in one case, has invested in its customer and its associate experience. Those efforts include building a seamless ecosystem that joins the best of the physical store and the digital online experiences. Kroger Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen said during the company’s recent analyst day that the firm is well on its way to making the Kroger experience available to all Americans, via a combination of stores, delivery, pickup and shipping platforms.

From Kroger to H-E-B, grocery chains are aiming to drive innovation by putting the focus on the customer experience with the help of technology. 

In Other Brick-and-Mortar Retail News

Jimmy John’s, a chain of sandwich restaurants, has announced the rollout of its first-ever customer-loyalty program. Freaky Fast Reward, now available across the country, was piloted earlier this year and rolled out on a limited basis. Members can earn different kinds of rewards, with the inclusion of sandwiches, drinks and sides as well as first-taste access to new products.

Chief Marketing Officer John Shea said in an emailed press release, “At Jimmy John’s, we have amazing customers, and we’re committed to rewarding them for their loyalty.” Shea continued, “Freaky Fast Rewards is a best-in-class program that makes earning rewards fast and easy.” The offering features tech that allows members to make purchases via Google Pay or Apple Pay.

In other news, Walmart is teaming with Nuro to roll out a new pilot program that will experiment with autonomous grocery delivery in the Houston market. The service will use Nuro’s custom-built delivery vehicle R2 and autonomous Toyota Priuses. Tom Ward, senior vice president of digital operations for Walmart U.S., said in a release, “Nuro’s vision of using robotics to improve lives runs parallel with Walmart’s mission of helping customers live better.”

Nuro said in a post, “We consider delivery to be a natural extension of the shopping experience, and an important way to bring the benefits of the on-demand economy to more people,” Nuro also noted, “Through the pilot, we’ll gain insights that will enable us to further develop and refine our service, while helping Walmart create the best end-to-end customer experiences.”

And food retailers are betting big on small warehouses to support their growing delivery operations as grocers try out different approaches to get products to shoppers in a more efficient manner. Albertsons Cos., Walmart and other firms are creating small fulfillment centers close to locations already in existence and shoppers to fulfill eCommerce orders fast.

More grocery firms are selecting this strategy over the bigger and remote distribution centers that Kroger Co. and the Peapod division of Koninklijke Ahold Delhaize NV are building to make deliveries over broader areas. Facilities that are called micro-fulfillment centers are often between 10,000 and 20,000 square feet and can fill approximately 4,000 orders a week.

To keep tabs on the latest retail trends, check next week’s Retail Pulse.