Insights

Robot technology has made significant advances in terms of functionality and affordability, plus artificial intelligence is allowing machines to communicate more effectively with human beings. 

In this report we’ve identified numerous examples from around the world of last mile solutions that help online shoppers embrace this convenience.

In today’s era of accelerated change and unprecedented uncertainty, understanding how retailers globally are preparing for an omnichannel future is key. We review 10 areas we highlighted in our Store of the Future report and how best in class retailers have reacted these issues.

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Boots announces plans to revamp its pharmacy business and digitalises its Advantage Card loyalty scheme.

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As Despar Centro Sud launches an online grocery service and Carrefour expands its partnership with Supermercato24, we round up news from the country.

Carrefour expands collaboration with Supermercato24

Carrefour and Supermercato24 have announced they are expanding the coverage of their partnership beyond the 14 cities where the service is operated into the regions of Toscana and Campania. The agreement will enable shoppers to have their orders delivered to their homes within one hour of ordering. They will pay the same price for their products as they would in-store.

Commenting on the service, Carrefour’s director of ecommerce and digital transformation, Enrico Fantini, said: “ Carrefour Italia is very attentive to innovation and continues to invest in solutions that can allow us to be closer to our consumers and their territory, both online and at sales points.

Despar Centro Sud launches online

Despar Centro Sud, meanwhile, has announced it will launch an online grocery service, Despar a Casa. The solution will be added following input from ReStore, a provider of ecommerce services for Italy’s retail industry. Following the launch, Despar Centro Sud said it plans to invest €7m in expanding its store network.

Despar a Casa will enable shoppers to buy from the retailer’s total range, while it is available without having to spend more than a certain amount. Shoppers will be able to have orders delivered to their homes or to collect it from the Interspar store in Corato. Initially the service will be available in the municipality of Corato, near Bari, before it is potentially rolled out to other locations in the Calabria, Puglia, Basilicata, Campania and Abruzzo regions, depending on its success.

Google has unveiled a new tool known as Grow My Store to support retailers with improving their customers’ online and omnichannel experiences.

Testing against 22 metrics

The new Grow My Store tool gives retailers a rating of their website, while generating reports with recommendations on how to improve their customers’ online experience. The site is initially being rolled out in English, French and Spanish speaking countries, with further European expansion plans in 2019. Recommendations for retailers are based on country-level research, and are therefore specific to retailers’ own markets.

Retailers are testing against up to 22 metrics with Grow My Store. The metrics are based on studies into customer experience best practice. Google created the tool in response to consumers increasingly demanding more information and services expected from retailers online.

Fionnuala Meehan, VP EMEA, Google Customer Solutions, said: “For retailers of all sizes, their website is their digital flagship store, so Google wants to help retailers to make their online and omnichannel customer experience as appealing as possible to customers. That’s why we have built a tool that brings together all this valuable insight into one place and then uses that insight to create bespoke recommendations for retailers providing clear support and advice”.

Developing retailer partnerships

Recently, we have seen Google getting closer to retailers through a number of partnerships, and acting as an advisor in these relationships. In 2018, Google signed a strategic partnership with Carrefour in France that focused on the availability of Carrefour on Google’s shopping website and Google Assistant in France, creation of a Carrefour-Google innovation lab, and digitisation acceleration of the Carrefour Group. The partnership sees Carrefour’s position in the digital channel strengthen as well as a offering a better shopping experience for customers. Google has also partnered with Walmart on voice ordering through Google Assistant for its online grocery service.

Google launched a new shopping programme in 2018 in the US, allowing customers to shop products using a universal Google cart. Shopping Actions enables consumers to buy items from search results instantly. Retailers that partner with the programme have the opportunity to increase shopper loyalty by supporting initiatives such as one-click re-ordering and personalised recommendations. In exchange for Google listings, retailers will pay a percentage of each purchase to the company. A number of companies, including Target, Walmart and Costco signed up to the programme.

While partnering with Google offers retailers greater visibility and improves the shopping experience, for Google, its retailer partnerships help it to win consumer product searches against competitor companies, including Amazon.

Major food-to-go specialist Pret A Manger has announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire rival EAT.

Expansion of Veggie Pret

Pret is set to acquire all stores in EAT’s c.90 estate, and will convert as many as possible to Veggie Pret’s. Pret said the move is in response to growing consumer demand for more vegetarian and vegan options on the high street.

The first vegetarian-only Pret launched at Broadwick Street in Soho as an experimental pop-up in September 2016, but due to its success and positive customer feedback, is now a permanent fixture. Pret has since expanded to a further three locations in London and Manchester. The thinking behind the model combines healthy eating, convenience and speed of service with an enticing store environment.

While focused in and around London, EAT has expanded to other parts of the UK such as Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and Glasgow, and into travel locations in and outside the UK, including airports in Spain and Paris’ Gare du Nord.

The rise and rise of health and wellness

Many consumers’ interest in leading healthier lifestyles is rising, and eating more healthily, whether at home or on the move, is a key component of that. We have called out the rise of health and wellness as one of our five key trends to watch in 2019 for the food-to-go market.

Interest in vegetarian and vegan lifestyles is growing. Our ShopperVista research tells us that one in three GB shoppers is vegetarian or considering a vegetarian diet, while one in six GB shoppers is vegan or interested in a vegan diet. We are also seeing a growth in flexitarian lifestyles where consumers are consciously eating less meat by choosing a predominantly vegetarian diet, but without cutting meat out all together. Offering vegetarian and vegan food-to-go options therefore makes commercial sense for operators, not only because it opens them up to the growing numbers of vegetarians and vegans, but also to those who are reducing meat in their diets, and those who simply enjoy vegetarian meals from time to time.  

Want to know more?

Get up to speed on what we see as the key influences and trends to watch out for in the year ahead in our Food-to-go trends 2019 report here.

We look in detail at health & wellness trend to identify the key strategies being adopted right now in our Food to go trends in focus: health and wellness report here.

Want to stay up to speed with our latest food-to-go insights? Sign up to our monthly food-to-go newsletter here.

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