Every bottle tells a story, and retail tech startup Looma is making sure that in-store Schnucks shoppers get the 411 before making their purchasing decisions. Looma has partnered with Schnuck Markets Inc. to bring an at-shelf digital storytelling platform to beer and wine departments at 89 Schnucks stores. Known as Loop, the program introduces shoppers to the real people who craft the products via short, human-centric videos playing on smart tablets.
According to Looma, brands see an average of 92% sales growth when featured on Loop, followed by 25% the following month. When the solution is installed on an end cap, the end cap sells 51% more product, while 30% of shoppers trying a Loop-featured product are trying it for the first time.
Incorporating Simbe Robotics’ Tally into chainwide operations will enable Schnucks to gain even greater visibility into store conditions, with deeper levels of business insights as it adjusts to post-pandemic retail landscape.
In an industry-first chainwide expansion, Schnuck Markets Inc. and Simbe Robotics will team on a multiyear full-scale rollout of Simbe’s Tally solution to all 111 Schnucks locations across the food retailer’s four-state footprint, making Schnucks the first grocer in the world to employ AI-powered inventory management technology at scale. Incorporating Simbe’s solution into chainwide operations will enable Schnucks to gain even greater visibility into store conditions, with deeper levels of business insights as it adjusts to a post-pandemic retail landscape.
In Brief — the benefits
Incremental revenue opportunities
reduction in out-of-stock items
Higher price tag and promotional execution compliance
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, automats were vending machine-style restaurants that served cafeteria-style food throughout the early 1900s. Fast food innovation and inflation eventually made the practice impractical. What was once a popular and modern style of dining eventually all but died off.
But as the pandemic changed our appetite for indoor, contact-heavy dining, the possibilities for a once-outdated concept reemerged. Brooklyn Dumpling Shop only debuted in New York’s East Village in May 2021, but the brand has already signed franchise deals for locations throughout New York, Florida, Texas and more.
“It’s an incomparable brand — the reimagination of the automat concept is enough to get people in the door, but the high-quality and uniqueness of the dumplings is what keeps customers coming back every time,” says Dan Rowe, CEO of Fransmart, Brooklyn Dumpling Shop’s franchise development partner.
How does it work?
Brooklyn Dumpling Shop’s contactless ordering system uses temperature-controlled food lockers to offer guests a pretty efficient contactless pickup option. First, you order ahead online or at a kiosk in real-time.
Once an order is ready, it’s inserted into one of the lockers. Customers are notified and can then scan their phones and pick up their food. Seems easy enough.
New angle by InComm leveraging their networks to rope in the underbanked and unbanked. The numbers from the FDIC based on 2019 survey data details around 22 million in that under and not banked demographic. Interesting 2021 data statistics showing countries and their rates of unbanked. Vietnam for example almost 70% unbanked. Cash, which is declining in U.S. as transactional component, would seem to be highly used in many countries.
Retailer network relationships include Dollar General, Family Dollar and select 7-Eleven stores.
In their announcement, Atlanta-based InComm and Seattle-based Doxo noted the prevalence of bills paid by U.S. consumers in cash. Specifically, they said about 12% of bills, or nearly 1.9 billion bills paid annually by U.S. households, are paid in cash, citing the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
Is TikTok on your restaurant’s marketing strategy menu? If not, consider this. Ninety-year-old brand Ocean Spray landed 15 billion media impressions on TikTok in one month with zero spend after a creator featured the drink while skateboarding to work.
According to Hootsuite’s Digital 2021 Report (registration required), TikTok hit 689 million global active users as of January 2021 (100 million monthly active users in the U.S.). The vast majority of users in the U.S. are under 30. And 72% of millennial consumers frequent eating and drinking establishments on a weekly basis. This means “Genzennials” (millennials + Gen Z) have a giant chunk of wallet to share when it comes to eating out.
Let’s look at some challenges restaurants are facing today, how technology plays a role and particularly how TikTok can be used effectively.
Challenge #1: Safety
• Hello, QR Code: Many restaurants are utilizing QR codes for menus, orders and contactless payments. Imagine before (waving down a waiter to pay your check), versus after (a tap of a smartphone and you’re out the door). You can use TikTok videos to show digital menus and payments and your new contactless services.
Check out this video of The Greens Rooftop Bar at Pier 17 in New York City, where the content creator focuses on the overall experience but flashes QR codes in storytelling. The company’s QR code system allows customers to order food and beverages, or even sunscreen or a phone charger.
• Drones And Bots: This slick El Pollo Loco video shows off its newly-announced drone delivery. There are also lots of robot delivery videos out there. Who hasn’t seen Domino’s driverless delivery powered by Nuro ad? White Castle is deploying robots in the kitchen (pretty futuristic stuff for a century-old brand!). The Miso Robotics robotic arm, known as Flippy, is being used in the kitchen fryer area, leaving drudgery to the robots and allowing staff to better serve customers.
16–20% higher accuracy rates than Google or Amazon’s voice assistants
main draw of artificial intelligence in the drive-thru is solution for labor challenges
White Castle began testing AI-powered drive-thru with license-plate recognition in partnership with Mastercard last fall.
The “restaurant of the future” was the buzz phrase of 2020 for the off-premises-focused restaurant industry still reeling from the global COVID-19 pandemic. Now, store redesigns increasingly emphasize ease of customer experience with tech rollouts like Panera’s geofencing technology and Taco Bell’s smartphone-operated food pickup cubbies.
The next part of the post-pandemic restaurant makeover? Robots. While AI and automation are certainly nothing new to the industry (Flippy the fry cook robot debuted four years ago and Domino’s has been testing out AI capabilities for a long time), these technologies are making the leap from gimmick to gold standard as off-premises demands grow and the industry’s labor challenges continue.
With the restaurant industry labor crisis ongoing, operators are finding new ways to survive the employee slowdown, including investing in artificial intelligence. Testing of AI-powered drive-thru lanes began before the pandemic, with both KFCand Dunkin’ piloting checkout-free automated drive-thrus powered by AI in 2019.
The interest in human-free drive-thru lanes grew in earnest over the past year with McDonald’s announcing a test of automated voice order-taking at drive-thrus in June, though McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski said that there is a “big leap” in going from a test of 10 restaurants to 14,000 and that it will take more than a year for AI to become more widespread.
Rob Carpenter, founder and CEO of Denver-based Valyant AI — a technology company creating artificial intelligence solutions for drive-thru, takeout and delivery — also believes the technology is still finding its stride, but that it is improving all the time.
Valyant is partnering with Checkers and Rally’s — which will begin using its voice assistant— and there are two additional major quick-service brand partnerships in the works. Although the company’s voice assistant program for drive-thrus is still learning accents and other variables, Carpenter said tests are seeing 16–20% higher accuracy rates than Google or Amazon’s voice assistants.
From ICSC August 2021 — Vending machines now feature digital touchscreens and even biometric facial identification to make the buying experience faster.
Taubman highlighted and pitching most of their strategies
Selling sauce, vape, skincare, drugs (Advil), cupcakes, eyelash extensions, PPE and CBD
Revenue from vending machine still less that specialty kiosk or pop-up
One perhaps unexpected disruptor that gained traction during the COVID-19 crisis was the rise of vending machines. Once seen as archaic dispensaries for 75-cent potato chip bags, they now may feature digital touchscreens and even biometric facial identification to make the buying experience faster. And during the pandemic, retailers began looking more seriously at vending machines as seamless, contactless ways to get their products to consumers quickly.
“All types of stores deployed vending machines during the pandemic when they had to close due to the lockdown and still wanted to make their merchandise available,” explained Elliot Maras, editor of Vending Times. “In every case I am aware of, the sales surpassed expectations and they are keeping the machines on-site post pandemic.”
Vending machines during the pandemic were selling not just prepackaged snacks and soda cans. Instead, retailers stocked products like CBD gummies, artisanal pizzas, prime cuts of meat, down jackets, swimsuits and iPad chargers. Thanks to advances in wireless technology, customers rarely find vending machines empty of the products they want, and operators adjust the products based on real-time sales. And forget paying with quarters; customers now can pay via mobile apps.
As the U.S. labor shortage continues and contactless transactions remain on the upswing — hello delta and lambda variants — some retailers consider vending machines rather than brick-and-mortar or kiosks as primary entry points into retail sales. Dude, Seriously Hot Sauce CEO Kai Schneider, for instance, had considered opening his own store but changed his mind once COVID-19 hit. “People — Dude, Seriously employees included — deserve a hassle free-experience with minimal risk to exposure, and the vending machine supplies that,” he explained.
August 2021 NRN Link — Join Chicken Salad Chick CEO Scott Deviney for an interactive Q&A session on how restaurant growth strategies are evolving and what factors make for a successful store opening in 2021 and beyond. Coming off years of steady expansion, Chicken Salad Chick is looking to maintain its growth trajectory as it sets its sights on having 500 locations by 2025. Deviney shares how the brand is pursuing new markets to hit its ambitious growth targets and why the challenges of the past year have made the brand stronger than ever before.
Scott Deviney CEO Chicken Salad Chick
Scott Deviney is the President and CEO of Chicken Salad Chick serving in this role since May 2015 after partnering with a private equity firm to purchase the company from the founders. Since taking over as CEO, the company has grown from 32 restaurants to over 170 in 17 states. Prior to the Covid pandemic, the company had fourteen straight quarters of positive same-store sales. Prior to his tenure at Chicken Salad Chick Scott was a franchisee of 24 Wendy’s restaurants in Georgia where he ran that business for six years. Before purchasing his Wendy’s business, Scott held various roles over a thirteen-year period in the banking industry, including roles in restaurant financing and advisory.
In yet another example of how robot food delivery is gaining traction in the United States, Kiwibot, a robotic last-mile delivery company, has teamed with foodservice and facilities management company Sodexo North America to begin offering the service at three university campuses this month: New Mexico State University; Loyola Marymount University, in California; and Gonzaga University, in Washington state.
The companies envision a subscription program in which every person at a Sodexo-serviced location can access any goods that can fit into a robot, and are located within a university campus.
63% more likely to shop where digital payment provided
73% want to pay in-store same way they pay online
Paypal is #1 tool
Giant Eagle sales 10B with 470 stores
Cash is no longer king. With digital payments becoming more ingrained in our day-to-day lifestyle, Giant Eagle, Inc. and global branded payments company Blackhawk Network have partnered with PayPal and Venmo to bring these payment methods to each of the retailer’s 474 supermarket and GetGo locations. With this announcement, Giant Eagle and GetGo become the first grocery and convenience store chains in the United States allowing customers to pay with PayPal and Venmo at the register.
Retail giant Amazon is taking on card behemoth Visa with plans to impose a half percent surcharge on all Visa credit card transactions in Singapore starting next month in its first ever such surcharge.
“Due to Visa’s high cost of payments, beginning 15 September 2021, Amazon will apply 0.5% surcharge to purchases made using Visa credit cards on Amazon.sg,” the company said in a notice today to its Singapore site customers. “To avoid this surcharge, we encourage you to use a debit or non-Visa credit card as the default payment method in your account,” said the notice, which was provided by Amazon.
Asked if the surcharge could be extended to other parts of the world, a spokesperson for Amazon declined to comment, but suggested the Seattle-based company might consider adding the surcharge elsewhere. “Singapore is the first country we’ve decided to make changes in, but this is a global issue and is not isolated to Singapore,” the spokesperson said by email.