Category: News

10 Jan 2019
Earth Fare Video 1 thumbnail

CEO of Earth Fare Talks Shop With Ken Ouimet

At the inaugural GroceryShop event in Las Vegas late last year, Frank Scorpiniti, CEO of health and wellness store Earth Fare, sat down with Ken Ouimet, CEO of Engage3.

Frank talked about hiring a Chief Medical Officer for his stores, bringing more value to his health and wellness shoppers, and how he envisions a future of 1:1 customer-centric marketing using loyalty data in the very near future.

Following is their conversation:

Ken: Welcome, Frank, thanks for being here at the show with us today. What’d you think of the show?

Frank: The show’s been well organized, there’s an immense amount of emerging technology that really excites us for the potential to have it help Earth Fare continue to grow.

Ken: Is there any particular technology you’re most impressed with?

Frank: Well I spent some time on the exhibit floor and I was pretty impressed with what seems to be some off-the-shelf technologies to help us eventually create more attribute conversation with our customers, right on the sales shelf. And our customers are really seeking better health and wellness, so in order to tell a product story is something that we’re really looking forward to leveraging.

Ken: How would you communicate that to customers?

Frank: Well I think we have a lot of work to do to figure that out. That’s been a big challenge for us. As the leading grocer in North America with the cleanest product assortments, one of the biggest challenges we have is getting the message across to our customers about how unique our assortment really is, so I don’t have that solved yet.

Ken: One of the technologies that I was really impressed with was seeing the advances in the speech recognition.

Ken: At one end I saw something by Apple recently where it actually had a bot that could schedule a haircut for somebody, and get through all the navigation of a real conversation. I was curious to get your thoughts, as we get these digital assistants starting to have these capabilities that talk to people in real time, you see an opportunity where we could use technology to get back to the old store where the grocer knew the customer, and have a more intimate relationship with each consumer.

Frank: Why, I suppose that’s an opportunity, I think customers have a lot of questions in our stores. We have fantastic team members that, many of whom are lifestylers, they live the health and wellness lifestyle, but some of the questions are becoming more complicated about health, so the potential to have that kind of on-demand understanding and data could potentially create an experience for a customer that’s above what we can achieve today.

Ken: Yeah, I imagine as people become more aware of the foods they eat and the effects it has on their bodies, they’re getting more particular on what they eat.

Frank: Yes, consumers are starting to become very aware of the U.S. food supply and that over the years it’s had many, many more chemicals go into it. Some may say some of these products aren’t foods, maybe they’re stuffs with calories. We think that more Americans are looking for healthy foods to feed their family and feel good about what they’re doing.

Ken: I’ve seen a naturopath the last ten years and they routinely will take blood samples and test food sensitivity.

Frank: Yeah

Ken: And I was blown away when I asked them how many people were affected by food sensitivities, and he said it was roughly 70% is what they’re estimating, but only less than 5% are aware of it. There’s a lot of people out there that are affected but don’t know that they’re affected, and some of the athletes are starting to realize that they need to cut out the foods they’re sensitive to and their performance goes up. My brother has a doctor that, he has his office on top of a grocery store, and walks his customers through the aisles to show them what to eat. I’m just wondering, have you thought about having maybe even naturopaths. I know you have a medical officer, is that any direction you’re going?

Frank: We have a Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Angela Hind, and she keeps us on the cutting edge of making sure that we take out of our stores. We’re trying to keep away from things that make our customers sick, and she can only be in one place at one time. Some of the exciting stuff that I think is in our future, particularly with what you’re working on at Engage3, Ken, is our ability to take our loyalty data, where our customers share with us some of their needs around health, and be able to customer-centrically create one-to-one offers. And maybe that could take the place of the naturopath, probably not all the way to the extent your brother experiences or having a naturopath above a store, but the opportunity to guide a particular person with food sensitivities into things that are safe for them, say through an app that [ Earth Fare ] eventually could offer our customers, that could be an incredible experience that I don’t see happening today.

Ken: Yeah, I think there’s a real need for that, because you start looking at reading the labels for what fits your diet, that’s a lot of work. I would think as a consumer I would want something that navigates me around the store like the GPS navigates me around the city.

Frank: I think that could be just an incredible advancement in retail for [ Earth Fare ], we have a food philosophy that disallows a lot of artificial ingredients, and so we say to our customers, “We read the labels so you don’t have to.” That’s removing a lot of the chemicals, but to take it to the next level that you’re describing, then tailor the shop for each individual consumer, it really could excite our customer base. And they’re already looking for better health so it’s the right audience.

 

Engage3 Competitive Intelligence Platform helps retailers like Earth Fare improve their pricing performance and compete more profitably through data science & analytics. To learn more about voice-activated shopping and other innovations discussed at GroceryShop, watch this video of Tim Ouimet discussing the rise of agent-based shopping.

09 Jan 2019
Sam's Club Now

Sam’s Club Now: A Review

sams club now signageIn response to the opening of new Amazon Go stores, Walmart and Sam’s Club are doubling down on its retail technology with an experimental store location in Dallas.  At the end of October, the retailer announced its latest venture: Sam’s Club Now. The shopping experience is similar to Amazon’s cashier-less convenience stores but with a larger focus on customer engagement. Engage3 visited the Dallas store to see what Sam’s Club Now had to offer, and we were surprised by how similar it was to the retailer’s traditional locations.

Compared to the tech-forward Amazon Go stores, Walmart seems to put the human experience first, aided by technology. According to the Sam’s Club press release, “Our associates are key to bringing this experience to life…we’ve known for a long time our associates make the difference, and that won’t change just because shopping preferences evolve.” 

This latest offering by Sam’s Club is about one-fourth the size of its traditional stores and includes electronic shelf labels. The retailer suggested the possibility of camera technology in the future as well. Purchases are done through the Sam’s Club Now app which tracks the items in a customer’s cart. Once the app is downloaded, a shopper can make grocery lists, search for items throughout the store, and use augmented reality features on certain products.

 

The Sam’s Club Now Experience

sams club parking
Sam’s Club Now Parking

On arrival, the first thing we noticed was the curbside pickup spots outside of the store. Apart from smartphone integration, it seems that Sam’s Club is focused on ease and accessibility with this experimental store. 

Once you enter with your club membership, you encounter a large charging kiosk with instructions on how to shop in the store. In order to make any purchases, you would need both a membership and a smartphone capable of downloading the app. There were no cash transactions in the store, so we had to rely on the Sam’s Club Now app. Thankfully, it was easy to set up. After opening the app and creating an account, we were ready to start shopping.

Sam's Club Kiosk
Sam’s Club Now Information and Charging Kiosk help you get started

 

From the entrance, we made our way around the store, noticing the electronic shelf labels that were set up throughout the aisles. It resembled the larger warehouse locations, but with a focus on items that could be easily picked up and scanned. However, products were still displayed and stored in the traditional Sam’s Club warehouse style. The pallets, bulk items, and stacked shelves made it clear that this was a Sam’s Club store.

 

Amazon Go Store and Sam’s Club Now Comparison

We compiled some photos of AmazonGo (left) and Sam’s Club Now (right) to give a side-by-side comparison.

 

Beyond the center store, there were separate areas for dairy, meat, and produce. These refrigerated sections featured a more limited assortment than the retailer’s larger stores, but each area had enough space to add more products down the line.

Sam's Club Departments
Center Store is separate from the refrigerated sections

For checkout, the retailer is relying on its experience with the Scan & Go app introduced two years ago. The app we downloaded allowed us to scan each item in our cart and track its total. When we were ready to check out, the transaction happened in the Sam’s Club Now app. Once it was complete, the app generated an e-receipt which we had to show upon exiting. Associates near the exit scan a QR code generated by the Now app, putting the checkout experience somewhere in the middle of the spectrum from tracking cameras to human cashiers.

 

sams club ereceipt
Showing your e-receipt on your way out
Sam's Club Now Electronic Shelf Labels
Sam’s Club Now Electronic Shelf Labels

We were thoroughly impressed by the app integration and electronic shelf labels, especially with how large the store is compared to an Amazon Go convenience store.

Amazon Go and Sam’s Club Now are operating different store sizes, but the smartphone-focused technology looks to fill the same need for shoppers. Easier navigation in stores and convenient, secure payments are featured in both. While Sam’s Club Now may be a much larger space, this experimental offering shows that retail technology is exploding in popularity. With the recent announcement of Kroger and Microsoft’s partnership, the trend towards smart shopping continues to grow.

To read our review of the Amazon 4 Star Store in Berkeley, California, click here.

 

 

18 Dec 2018
Aldi-store-733453

The Aldi Effect: Are Walmart prices higher in locations where there is no Aldi store?

When European retailer Aldi started opening stores up and down Britain in 2016, people who lived close to a new retailer location started noticing that the value of their homes went up by as much as £5,000. It was called the “Aldi Effect” by the local media and, soon enough, the vicinity of an Aldi store to a piece of property became a listing feature.

Aldi started putting up more stores all over the U.S. starting in 2011, with a total of 1,600 stores to date. And just like in the U.K., it would seem that there is yet another advantage to having an Aldi store in your neighborhood – lower prices for everyday groceries at your local Walmart store.

Walmart and their everyday low price (EDLP) approach has consistently driven a low price image across the U.S. With their limited assortment and private label focus, Aldi has also worked to deliver customer value through low prices. When both retailers are present in a market, they have demonstrated an ability to fight head-to-head for low-price leadership.

Engage3 collects and monitors grocery pricing in markets across the U.S., and identifies pricing patterns and market trends.

For this study, we created a basket of 50 grocery staples that were price checked at three Walmart locations within each of the four Texas markets studied – Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio. Dallas and Houston have 36 and 50 Aldi store locations, respectively, while Austin only has 1 store location and San Antonio has none. The competitive landscape in Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston is much more robust, with not only Aldi in the mix, but Kroger and Safeway banners as well.

Our study revealed that in Austin where there is only 1 Aldi store location (north in Pflugerville), Walmart pricing for the basket of staples was 16.2% higher than in Dallas, and 17.6% higher than it was in Houston.

Aldi Report Austin

In San Antonio where Aldi has no store presence and where H-E-B and Walmart are the dominant grocery players, we found that the Walmart basket was between 21% and 22% higher than the exact basket in Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston, respectively.

Aldi Report San Antonio

 

While the average pricing differences in the four cities taken together were between 6% and 11%, some pricing disparity on items like peanut butter and mac and cheese were fairly significant. The chart below shows peanut butter at a Walmart store in Dallas-Fort Worth priced at $1.18, while the same jar was priced at $2.18 in Austin – a whopping 54% difference. Similarly, the mac and cheese, priced in the Dallas-Fort Worth stores at $0.34, was double the price at $0.68 each in Austin.

Aldi Report Table Austin DFW

The same pattern can be seen in Houston, where there are currently 50 Aldi stores. The chart below shows peanut butter at a Walmart store in Houston priced at $1.78, while the same jar was priced at $2.58 in San Antonio, or 45% more. The same mac and cheese, priced in the San Antonio store at $0.68, is 100% more expensive than in Houston at $0.34.


The market basket data used in this analysis is objective and precise. But while the same 50 items were used across all markets, the correlation of Aldi’s effect on a market is still subjective.  Based on Engage3’s observations of competitive pricing data across the U.S., we have determined consistent patterns of Aldi’s influence and effect on market pricing.

Pricing has always been like a chess game, where each retailer is reacting to their competitor’s moves, while trying to predict how their competitor will react to their maneuvers.  But, unlike chess, this game is often played with 3 or more players, and aggressive moves can make it difficult to discern strategy from reactive tactics.

For more information on how to build a strategic competitor assessment and market price monitoring program, watch our competitive pricing video here,  request our white paper on how to leverage AI and big data in competitive pricing here, or contact us at 530-231-5485.

 

 

27 Nov 2018
4-star

Amazon 4-Star Review

November 8, 2018 – BERKELEY, Calif.

With the launch of the latest store, Amazon now has three Amazon 4-star retail locations in the United States. The second store opened last week in Lone Tree, Colorado, surprising consumers that expected the Berkeley, California location to open first. Engage3 took a trip to the opening last week to see it in person, and here are some of our observations.

The Amazon 4-star in Berkeley opened its doors on November 5th to a short line of people, but soon the store was full of shoppers and press eager to see the products available. In the weeks leading up to the launch, I had read comments from small businesses in the area expressing their concern, but seeing it in person made it clear that the 4-star experience is not directly competing with these business owners.

Online Goes Offline

Compared to Amazon’s other retail ventures, 4-star is fairly tame; the concept of the store is to offer well-reviewed products from the online site in a brick-and-mortar location. No tracking cameras are set up and no cashier-free checkout is offered, making the store more like a traditional retailer than a cutting-edge convenience store competitor (Business Insider). We were allowed to openly browse the selection of products once inside.

What makes the store unique is how it approaches brick-and-mortar selling. Customer reviews are the basis for which items are sold in the store; if something is for sale, it means a large amount of online customers enjoyed the product. Amazon 4-star is also localized to the surrounding area, displaying a selection of products popular with Berkeley customers. These curated collections are available in the Lone Tree and Manhattan as well, and we will likely see this trend continue as more stores open.

4-star Welcome
The products in stock are all highly rated, pushing for quality over quantity.
4-star Books
Books and recommendations make up a large portion of the store, similar to Amazon Books.
4-star Trending
Items are curated for the surrounding area and based on popular orders.

Aside from the tables lined with trending purchases, the majority of items in the store were hanging on the walls with little separation. As soon as I left the table area, the number of items became overwhelming and difficult to sort through. If found myself looking at the curated collections more than anything else, and the shoppers around me were doing the same.

Compared to looking for gifts on the Amazon site, the experience of looking through seemingly endless shelves felt lacking. The categories were clearly displayed, but I had no interest of going row by row to look for something specific. A large Roomba vacuum exhibit dominated the back half of the store where the electronics were kept, and few customers were venturing into that territory. Shoppers focused on the curated tables and book displays instead. The scene reminded me of another brick-and-mortar bookseller in a condensed format.

To recreate the online shopping experience, recommended and related items appeared next to each other throughout the store. Online reviews and short descriptions accompanied many of the store’s products, but these when afterthoughts when compared to the Amazon Prime integration.

Gifts and Presence

While I went through the store, I noticed that many products have two price points: one for Prime members and one for non-members. The e-ink displays clearly tell a shopper the online rating for the product and how much they are saving with their membership. Every item had an Electronic Shelf Label that the employees could change when necessary.

The labels caught my attention, because they displays the online rating and number of reviews. Amazon was meticulous on this point, making sure every single item in the store had a dynamic label.

Many shoppers and news outlets are comparing the 4-star experience to existing “everything under one roof” retailers. The store has even been called a Millennial Brookstone (Forbes). However, what sets Amazon apart from these retailers is a focus on membership and community interaction.

The Berkeley location seemed more welcoming than Amazon’s other physical stores, especially compared to Amazon Go. Most of the customers in the store were curious families and couples, and it is refreshing to see the online retailer focus on more than their usual tech-savvy demographic.

Overall, the Amazon 4-star favors a traditional layout over revolutionary tech. It shares a target demographic with the retailer’s convenience stores, but offers a more reserved shopping experience. Even though the store was overwhelming at times, it felt warmer and more human than any of Amazon’s previous brick-and-mortar attempts. With its wide product selection, I can see holiday shoppers close to these stores turning to 4-star for their gift-giving.

18 Oct 2018
ken ouimet lunchtime talk 10-26-18 FINAL

Ken Ouimet at UC Davis

Ken Ouimet, CEO of Engage3 and distinguished College of Engineering alumnus, is giving a talk at Kemper Hall on the UC Davis campus. Join us on October 26th from noon to 1PM. Register at bit.ly/kenouimet

16 Oct 2018
ken Ouimet honored at the mondavi center in Davis

Ken Ouimet Receives High Honor from UC Davis

The University of California, Davis presented the 2018 Distinguished Alumni medal to Ken Ouimet, CEO and Founder of AI retail price innovator, Engage3. Ken received the award alongside JoeBen Bevirt and Cynthia Murphy-Ortega at a special alumni celebration at the Mondavi Center on October 26, 2018. The award is given to alumni who have achieved an overall high distinction in their field and have contributed a distinguished service to the college, profession or the community. 

Ken joins the ranks of other notable and decorated alumni of the College of Engineering, including Mars Lander Team Lead Adam Steltzner, Astronaut Steve Robinson, and Hyundai Motors Vice Chairman of R&D Woong-chul YangWatch the Mars Lander video “7 Minutes of Terror: The Challenges of Getting to Mars” here.

The College of Engineering has had over 22,500 graduates since its inception in 1962. Among the alumni are company executives, doctors, technological innovators, and an astronaut-turned-professor. Beginning in 1989, UC Davis began awarding the honor of Distinguished Engineering Alumni annually. To date, only 64 awards have been given out.

 

29 Aug 2018
Engage3 Climbs Up the Inc. 5000 List

Engage3 Climbs Up the Inc. 5000 List

Engage3, which helps retailers and brands enhance their pricing performance through data science and analytics, today announced that they have been included, for the second year in a row, in the prestigious Inc. 5000 List of Fastest-Growing Private Companies in the U.S.

Ranked at #1,458 last year, they climbed up 327 spots to their new ranking of #1,151. No company in the 2018 list has grown by less than 50 percent over the last three years. Companies who make this list are considered as true job creators, as only about 12 percent of American companies achieve one-year revenue growth of 25 percent or more.

Engage3has a 97%+ customer retention rate and has grown the number of its retail customers across the US and Canada by 56% between 2017-2018. The company has successfully expanded its platform to support sporting goods, electronics, apparel, and pure play e-commerce retailers over this same period.

Ken Ouimet, Engage3’s CEO and Founder, said, “We are thrilled to make it to the Inc. 5000’s fastest growing companies two years in a row. It is great validation of the strategy and value that we are providing to our customers, “ he added.

The companies on the list amassed more than $206B in revenue in 2017, up 158 percent from $79.8B in 2014.

“While these last three years of growth have been tremendous, this is only the beginning for us and we look forward to continuing the growth at an accelerated rate,” said Edris Bemanian, Engage3’s Chief Operating Officer. “We’re well on the path to revolutionizing retail pricing by improving retailers’ price image and profitability. This award is a testament to our amazing team’s unique ability to execute against that vision.”

About Engage3

Engage3 has assembled a team of price optimization pioneers to develop the next generation of price optimization.  The company was founded by the creators of SAP (KhiMetrics), who are credited with creating the retail price optimization space. Engage3’s leadership team is composed of former SAP (KhiMetrics), dunnhumby, KSS Retail, and IBM/DemandTec executives.

Engage3’s focus is on data quality and management which are the foundation of successful price optimization implementations. Engage3 Competitive Intelligence Platform (CIP) is an integrated end-to-end solution that uses data science to ensure data quality.  CIP 1) enables retailers to automate the management and optimize the design of their competitive shop program, 2) uses demand-side product attributes to link “Like” competitor products, and 3) reverse-engineers and monitors competitors’ pricing strategies. Engage3 Competitive Price Response (CPR) optimizes pricing, and manages a consistent price image across different channels, markets, and categories while providing control over your company’s quarterly sales and profits.

Engage3 was named in the top 1,500 firms for two years in a row in the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies in the U.S. It also recently raised its Series B financing from retail technology-focused venture capitalists.

More information is available at http://www.engage3.com.

17 May 2018
retailer

C&S Wholesale Grocers Partner with Engage3

On April 18 to 19, retailer C&S Wholesale Grocers held their 10thannual Tech West Expo at Thunder Valley Resort Casino in Lincoln, CA. Over 100 independent grocery retailers from the West Coast, including Hawaii and Texas, converged at the town Northeast of Sacramento.

Listed by Forbes as the tenth-largest privately held company in the United States, C&S Wholesale Grocers is a wholesale distributor of food and grocery store items with headquarters in Keene, NH.

C&S recently released their strategic retail pricing system and has chosen Engage3 as their partner for competitive retail pricing. “Engage3 IS the premiere partner in retail price information,” said Frank Puleo, VP of Retail Services at C&S.

Engage3 is a leading provider of solutions that help retailers and brands improve their pricing performance and compete more profitably through data science & analytics.

“We have worked with Engage3 for seven to eight years to deliver the best competitive pricing platform in one of our regions. Over the years, we’ve extended that partnership and now we have it on a national level,” noted Corey Quiring, Sr. Director of Corporate Retail Services at C&S.

15 May 2018
COO

Engage3 COO Edris Bemanian Talks Pricing Strategy, Pressures, and the Market

Last month, Robert Schaulis of Andnowuknow interviewed Engage3 COO Edris Bemanian on his observations of pricing pressures from the likes of Amazon and Lidl. “The biggest trend is that pricing and assortments are becoming more dynamic and localized,” Edris says.  He notes that e-commerce is now becoming a fundamental part of retailers’ strategies versus just a “me too” approach. Read the full article in Andnowuknow.com.

13 Apr 2018
engage3

Engage3 at The C&S Tech Expo 2018

Visit Engage3 at The C&S Tech Expo 2018

Booth #12
April 18 – 19, 2018
Thunder Valley Casino Resort
Lincoln, CA
Hosted by C&S Wholesale Grocers

Edris Bemanian, COO of Engage3, will be a featured speaker on Wednesday, April 18 from 12:00-12:30 pm. He will be sharing his expertise on how retailers can enhance their pricing  performance through machine learning and AI.