Category: News

20 Jun 2019

Engage3 Raises $12 Million in Series C Funding Led by The March Fund I LP

Engage3, which helps retailers manage their Price Image through accurate competitive data, data science, and Artificial Intelligence-powered software solutions, today announced that it has closed a $12 million Series C round of financing. This round is led by The March Fund I LP (“The March Fund”), a venture capital fund investing in technology based businesses relevant to the global food sector and capable of radically improving consumer health and environmental sustainability.

Previous investors who joined this round include NewRoad Capital Partners, Pereg Ventures, and Black Diamond Ventures. As part of the financing, Dr. Harold Schmitzand Christopher Lai, founding partners of The March Fund, will join Engage3’s Board of Directors.

The company anticipates doubling year over year revenues in 2019 and plans to use the funding to accelerate product development, expand its staff, and scale up the company’s go-to-market initiatives. Engage3’s customers include eight of the top ten grocery retailers in the U.S.

 “We are tremendously excited to partner with The March Fund at this next stage of our growth,” said Engage3 Founder & CEO, Ken Ouimet. “Their mission to accelerate the emergence of Food 3.0 by supporting companies with deep expertise in advanced data analytics, food science, and nutrition is aligned with our current product portfolio. Our vision of optimized pricing for personalized nutrition solutions create a shared win for consumers, retailers and manufacturers,” he added.

Engage3’s recent momentum and achievements include:

“We have been familiar with Engage3, the company’s leadership, and their foresight for many years,” said Dr. Harold Schmitz, a founding partner of The March Fund. “They are poised to drive new product and services opportunities for consumer health and environmental sustainability in the global food sector. The momentum behind their pricing solutions in the marketplace, their success in helping retailers simultaneously improve their Price Image and their profitability, and their vision to revolutionize retail pricing is especially compelling,” he added.

About The March Fund

The March Fund I LP is an early-late stage venture capital fund investing in companies developing new technologies in nutrition, biotechnology, and data analytics that have the potential to scale and transform the global food sector with respect to consumer health and environmental sustainability. The March Fund refers to this sector transformation as Food 3.0.

About Engage3

Engage3 was founded by the creators of KhiMetrics (acquired by SAP), who are credited with inventing the retail price optimization space. Engage3’s leadership team is composed of former KhiMetrics, SAP, Revionics, dunnhumby, KSS Retail, and IBM/DemandTec executives.

Engage3’s Price Image Management Suite™ helps retailers understand and manage their Price Image and align it with their sales and profitability objectives using predictive modeling. The suite includes Competitive Intelligence Management (CIM) – an AI-assisted, attribute-based, and data science-driven solution that provides accurate, granular competitive data (30 billion product pricing records collected annually in the U.S. and Canada) and like-item-linking visibility. CIM helps retailers reverse-engineer their competitors’ pricing and assortment strategies across channels, markets, and items. Also included in the suite is Price Image Optimization (PIO) – a next generation pricing solution that defines the impact of strategic pricing alternatives and unlocks pricing recommendations based on a retailer’s objectives for Price Image, sales, and profitability.

For more information, visit www.engage3.com.

13 Jun 2019
IDC Marketscape

IDC 2019 MarketScape Report Positions Engage3 as a Leader in Price Optimization Applications

Engage3, which helps retailers manage their Price Image through accurate competitive data, data science, and Artificial Intelligence-powered software solutions, today announced that it has been positioned as a leader by industry research firm IDC, in its recent “IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Retail Price Optimization Applications 2019 Vendor Assessment” (Document #US45034619, May 2019) report.

“Engage3 flips the price optimization paradigm on its head — optimizing price image, not prices, to achieve desired outcomes,” said Mark Thomason, co-author of the report and Research Director for Digital Business Models and Monetization at IDC. “With deep pricing–focused artificial intelligence and machine learning assets, Engage3 is focused on using science to maximize business outcomes constrained by shopper perception of pricing through predictive modeling of Price Image,” he added.

Engage3’s strengths as a leader in the market were highlighted in the report, as follows: 

  • AI-enabled omni-channel intelligence platform for high-volume analysis of competitors’ localized price, assortment, and promotion strategies, with ownership of all competitive product data, a productivity and insights accelerator
  • With deep pricing–focused artificial intelligence and machine learning assets, Engage3 now focused on science to maximize business outcomes constrained by shopper perception of pricing through predictive modeling of price image
  • Momentum among the top 50 U.S. retailers, leading with competitive intelligence followed by pricing optimization

“We are proud to be recognized by IDC for changing the game and leading retailers and manufacturers into the next frontier in strategic pricing solutions,” said Ken Ouimet, CEO and Founder of Engage3. “It validates our commitment to providing solutions that leverage our advanced AI and machine learning algorithms to help retailers measure, and then manage their Price Image,” he added.

In the report, IDC notes that traditional retail planning, of which life-cycle price optimization is a key part, has run its course. They defined next-generation retail planning as curated merchandise orchestration (CMO). CMO is the central nervous system of enterprise and ecosystem signals that harmonizes its own and adjacent processes from design to deliver. Price is defined as a cornerstone of CMO.

Register to get a copy of the IDC MarketScape excerpt here.

05 Jun 2019
Price Image Management Suite

Engage3 Unveils Price Image Management Suite™ and Brand Refresh

The retail industry is undergoing a massive transformation that is being driven by higher expectations from consumers and a changing landscape for retailers and manufacturers. Engage3 is flipping the price optimization paradigm on its head — optimizing Price Image to achieve retailers’ desired outcomes. 

Price Image Management Suite™ is an end-to-end Software-as-a-Service platform that integrates Engage3’s Competitive Intelligence Management and Engage3’s Price Image Optimization solutions.

Competitive Intelligence Management (CIM) provides comprehensive competitive pricing visibility, product linking, and reverse-engineering of competitors’ zoning strategies. It solves the problem that the first version of price optimization solutions missed – the foundation of accurate and timely competitive information to feed its optimization engines. First generation price optimization solutions oftentimes result in pricing decisions that are based on inaccurate and incomplete competitive data. CIM solves this problem and helps retailers outperform their competition on speed, accuracy, coverage, and frequency.

“We use predictive models that are especially valuable in forecasting sales, because Price Image allows a retailer to see how its customers will respond to different pricing strategies. This visibility translates into higher profit margins and happier customers.”

Ken Ouimet, Engage3 CEO and Founder

Price Image Optimization (PIO) helps retailers formulate their pricing strategy by measuring Price Image and enabling the strategic tradeoff between their Price Image and their desired margins. Unlike a price Index, Price Image measures the customer’s value perception relative to competing retailers. While first generation price optimization solutions are based primarily on pricing rules, price indices, and profit objectives, Engage3 has developed proprietary behavioral models that measure consumers’ perception of retailers’ pricing and predict the impact of price changes on that image.

“It’s proven difficult for retailers to craft a holistic strategy for pricing,” said Ken Ouimet, Engage3 Founder and CEO. “The calculation of a retailer’s Price Image in the market will be disruptive in strategic pricing. We use predictive models that are especially valuable in forecasting sales, because Price Image allows a retailer to see how its customers will respond to different pricing strategies. This visibility translates into higher profit margins and happier customers,” he added.

Also part of the Price Image Management Suite™ launch is Engage3’s new branding, which will be rolled out in phases over the next several weeks.

06 May 2019

TechEdge 2019: Engage3 Wins “Game Changer” Award

Engage3 won the “Game Changer”  Award at the Sacramento Business Journal’s sold-out TechEdge Conference on Wednesday of last week.

Produced this year in partnership with George Foreman Jr.’s IYC Capital, the event was held at the Sheraton Grand in downtown Sacramento. Along with local tech leaders, guests and speakers included Congresswoman Doris Matsui and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, and representatives from Amazon Web Services and Samsung.  Several panel discussions included how startup funding works, with panel participants from DiverseCity Ventures, Moneta Ventures, UC Berkeley Skydeck Fund and North Bay Angels, and additional panel discussions about the state of medical technology and agriculture technology in California.

The TechEdge Conference was held at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Sacramento. TIA GEMMEL PHOTOS.
The Game Changer award given to Engage3.

For more information on the latest in retail technology, you can watch our interview with Bill Bishop on product attributes and personalization here. TechEdge is presented by the Sacramento Business Journal and George Foreman Jr.’s IYC Capital. You can visit their website here.

21 Mar 2019

Top 5 Things to Look for in a Competitive Pricing Platform

Top 5 Things to Look for in a Competitive Pricing Platform

Managing the pricing data collected during competitive shops is no easy task. With private labels, rapidly changing online prices, and multiple sources of in-store audits, retail data has become increasingly difficult to translate into market visibility. A competitive pricing platform helps to automate the data collection, apply advanced analytics, and garner insights and value.

The right platform can free up time and resources to invest in other areas and substantially improve market visibility. Here are the top 5 features to look for in a pricing solution:

1. Correlating Online and In-store Pricing

Online vs In-store

In today’s world of e-commerce, more and more retailers are taking an omni-channel approach to selling. A technology-enabled competitive pricing platform needs to take advantage of advanced web crawling algorithms to acquire this competitive data and correlate it against the data captured by auditors in physical store checks. This enables a more efficient and cost-effective approach to acquiring competitive pricing data.

These web crawls can gather data from dozens of popular online stores to compile the most accurate pricing data. With the right platform, a retailer’s online and in-store pricing data are easy to access and work together to inform their omni-channel strategy.

2. Customized KVI Lists Based on Statistical Analysis

KVI analytics

Historically, cost and timeliness have made it difficult to acquire quality competitive data. Given the dynamic nature of the retail environment, static KVI lists are not responsive enough to the realities of where to focus competitive pricing efforts across various geographies and store-specific categories. The retailer needs a pricing platform that allows them to shift from static KVI lists to ones that are easily customized by banner or even by specific store. Rather than taking a blanket approach, the critical decisions of where, what and when to comp shop should be based on strategic statistical analysis.

By monitoring how often products change prices at a competitor, a retailer can adjust their price check frequency to areas that require more visibility. For example, if a retailer is doing weekly checks on a KVI and then find that their competitors’ prices only change every few months, they can adapt their competitive shop in response. The resources spent monitoring a slow-moving item like hot sauce at six competitors every week can be allocated to a more price-sensitive area like eggs or dairy products.

3. Product Attributes

Product Attributes

With the rise of private labels, competitive pricing platforms must be able to compare product attributes. In traditional competitive shop programs, as many as 40% of items go unaccounted for because there is no UPC match. To solve this problem, competitive pricing platforms must be able to utilize visual data capture technology and advanced character recognition to compare product attributes. This allows product linking to occur not just by UPC, but also by key attributes and statement of ingredient similarities, for example, gluten-free and organic. This creates a more accurate picture of a competitor’s private label pricing strategy and their total value proposition.

A recent article by Digiday shows that retailers are rapidly expanding their private label selections. Some retailers now offer dozens of different private labels, and manually matching these products takes considerable time and effort. Automation and product attributes allow retailers quickly get relevant pricing data on competing items.

4. Quality Assurance Workflow

Quality Assurance

A competitive pricing platform must also have a strong quality assurance workflow. With today’s mobile app-enabled technology, automated processes can greatly reduce manual errors and ensure that only quality data is being captured at shelf edge. Additionally, such apps can compare shelf data against historical records, flagging any SKU pricing that seems historically unreasonable.

Reducing the time between data collection and pricing decisions is critical to getting the full value of the competitive shop. When QA takes too long, the data that is collected becomes stale and often inaccurate. Reducing errors makes pricing data more useful, especially when a retailer is competing against e-commerce sites that can make price changes instantly.

5. Precise and Accurate Data

A competitive pricing platform must have the ability to collect precise and accurate pricing data. This allows retailers to target competitive shops, optimize frequency, and specify which items to focus on within regions or individual stores.

Rather than casting a wide net to see what useful data gets brought in, retailers must be able to get a global look at the actions of their competitors while also drilling down to store-specific opportunities. When they have both views, they can see clearly where they are winning and losing.


A competitive pricing platform makes it simple to manage data collected through web crawls and in-store audits. By having prices and advanced analytics connected in a central system, retailers have the ability to review their competitors’ strategies and adjust their own. To learn more about the science driving our analytics, you can request our White Paper here.

05 Feb 2019
Wells Fargo

Engage3 Grows Dramatically, Secures New Investment from Wells Fargo

Additional investment from Wells Fargo Strategic Capital fuels product enhancements, company growth

Engage3 today announced that it has secured additional financing to continue its growth from Wells Fargo Strategic Capital (NYSE: WFC), a division of Wells Fargo Commercial Capital. The company anticipates doubling revenues in 2019, and Engage3 plans to use the funding to expand its staff and scale up the company’s go-to-market initiatives. The company helps retailers balance their price image objectives with their profitability goals through data science, artificial intelligence, and accurate competitive data.

Engage3 was named in the top 1,500 firms for two consecutive years (2017 and 2018) in the Inc. “5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies”in the U.S. It raised its Series B financing two years ago from retail technology-focused venture capitalists and is in the middle of raising its Series C financing.

Engage3 focuses on an integrated retail pricing platform that emphasizes data quality and the management of competitive pricing, which are the foundation of successful price optimization implementations. Engage3’s Competitive Intelligence Platform (CIP) is an integrated end-to-end solution that uses data science to ensure data comprehensiveness, freshness, and accuracy. CIP enables retailers to automate the management and optimize the design of their competitive shop program; uses demand-side product attributes to link “like” competitor products; and reverse-engineers and monitors competitors’ pricing strategies. Engage3’s Competitive Price Response(CPR) is a visual price modeling tool that optimizes pricing, using proprietary psychological models that measure consumers’ perception of retailers’ pricing and predicts the impact of price changes on that image. CPR helps define the consequences of strategic pricing alternatives.

“In a world where 71 percent of consumers say that price determines whether they would shop at your store over another, the use of AI and algorithms to deliver the best price image to shoppers while achieving revenue and profitability goals is the clear answer,” says Ken Ouimet, CEO and founder of Engage3. “Price optimization as a category failed to reach its promise in the ‘90s because of the lack of good quality data as input. Every retailer now understands the importance of having clean, accurate and timely competitive data to formulate the best pricing strategy. We have addressed this problem, and our customers are now reaping the rewards of data-driven, scientific pricing.”

“Engage3’s integrated pricing platform presents great value for retailers in today’s highly competitive environment. We are excited to be an equity investor in this rapidly growing business with a strong platform and founder-led leadership team,” says Puon Penn, the Head of Early Stage Investment Division at Wells Fargo Strategic Capital, who is based in Palo Alto, California.

About Engage3

Engage3 was founded by the creators of KhiMetrics (acquired by SAP), who are credited with creating the retail price optimization space. Engage3’s leadership team is composed of former KhiMetrics, SAP, 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’s Competitive Intelligence Platform (CIP) is an integrated end-to-end solution that uses data science to ensure data quality.  Engage3’s 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.

For more information, visit www.engage3.com.


23 Jan 2019

Engage3 Joins Nielsen’s Connected Partner Program

Engagement Creates the Industry’s Most Comprehensive Pricing Intelligence Platform

Engage3 today announced their inclusion in to Nielsen’s Connected Partner Program. Through this engagement, data assets from both companies will have the opportunity to combine, creating an integrated competitor price monitoring and execution platform. The combination of Engage3’s Competitive Intelligence Platform and Nielsen’s rich retail measurement data gives retailers and brands the ability to identify, quantify, and prioritize specific competitor activity and how to best react.

“Engage3 and Nielsen both bring unique data assets about competitive pricing activity that provide insights into the marketplace landscape for a retailer,” said Ken Ouimet, CEO of Engage3. “By combining these assets, a retailer will better understand not only their competitors’ activities, but also the financial relevance of competitive price investments and differentiated assortments. They can then decide on what their best countermoves should be.”

Engage3 helps companies compete more intelligently in dynamic and hyper localized markets with store-specific competitive pricing and assortment insights. Engage3’s omni-channel 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, 3) reverse-engineers and monitors competitors’ pricing strategies, and 4) visually displays these insights via web-based reporting that is integrated with Nielsen’s own reporting portal.

The two companies are already serving several joint customers. “We are excited to bring an even deeper understanding of the competitive landscape to retailers and brands,” said Rob Culin, Senior VP of Personalization and Business Development at Engage3. “As a Nielsen Connected Partner, we can provide the most comprehensive level of visibility and understanding of competitor activity within any given market. We look forward to creating new levels of value for mutual customers we serve.”

About Engage3
Engage3 was founded by the creators of KhiMetrics (acquired by SAP), who are credited with creating the retail price optimization space. Engage3’s leadership team is composed of former KhiMetrics, SAP, 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’s Competitive Intelligence Platform is an integrated end-to-end solution that uses data science to ensure data quality. Engage3’s 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 (2017 and 2018) 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. For more information, visit www.engage3.com.

10 Jan 2019
Earth Fare

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.

===end===

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

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.