Kroger, America’s largest grocer, operates supermarkets and multi-department stores in 35 states with nearly 2,800 stores across the United States. Like all retailers, staying innovative and keeping their customers happy and loyal is a priority for Kroger. Finding the right technology partner that helps to create unique advantages and drives loyalty, convenience, and market share can make a world of difference and ensure that Kroger continues to stand out from other retailers.
Chris Norris, Senior Manager of Product, In-Store Customer Experience at Kroger knows how important it is to get the customer and store associate experiences right and how technology is key to success. Chris has overseen the R&D on projects responsible for developing scanning technology for Kroger since 2010. Throughout this time, his goal has been to improve the speed, convenience and efficiency for the customers as well as lower the impact on store associates to increase employee satisfaction and customer service throughout their stores.
Chris says that the most challenging part of R&D at Kroger has been the barcode scanning and decoding engine; the best results they had seen in store until recently was a 90% accuracy rate. This was particularly prevalent in scenarios where there were damaged or partially visible barcodes, or where the barcode was not in full view. With 10% inaccuracy, it created daily anxiety and annoyance for the customer who was being promised a fast, convenient and accurate checkout.
After rolling out a smart scanning service, ‘Scan, Bag and Go,’ via a dedicated handheld device, Chris and his team were determined to find a scanning solution for customers who leveraged the Kroger mobile application as well. As smartphones were becoming more mainstream and used more and more in the store by customers, the Kroger In-Store Customer Experience team needed a solution that delivered accuracy and speed, and worked in conditions such as poor lighting and difficult barcodes.
In order to address these challenges, Kroger looked outside the business for a technology partner who could deliver on the vision. Having already had knowledge of Scandit, Chris approached the team knowing that they offered enterprise-level success, working in partnership with retailers from trials, integration through to support.
Chris says, “We did a test with Scandit against the other barcode scanners we had installed, and immediately found the Scandit technology to be infallible. We started with 100 random items of which 50 were prototype items with stack data bars, which are notoriously difficult to scan. Scandit just blew away the competition with both accuracy and speed of scanning.”
“Everything we presented was scanned successfully. We also were pleasantly surprised to find that the software library size decreased significantly which meant a smaller application,” he adds, “In Scandit, we had found the solution we needed to get ‘Scan, Bag and Go’ and other scanning features within our mobile app functioning as we had envisioned.”
What else drove Kroger to select Scandit as their smart data capture partner?
There were a number of factors that helped Kroger make the decision to select Scandit. As Chris explains, “Scandit completely blew away the competition in both accuracy and speed of scanning. The internal discussions around that decision really came down to two major points for us. One was driving efficiencies throughout the entire enterprise, basically for the associate facing experience, as well as creating that world-class customer experience that would differentiate Kroger from the rest of retail.”
The benefits went beyond the customer and associate experience; the Kroger Engineering and Operations teams also benefited. Firstly because of Scandit’s ease and simplicity of integration. Secondly, the small size of the Android application package file (APK) all meant it was easy for Kroger’s software developers to work with. Chris says, “The ease of integration was a big key point for the engineering side of the house.”
And finally, the direct support, and Scandit Smart Data Capture roadmap and the possibilities it presents. Chris emphasizes Scandit’s vision for augmented reality (AR) as a major factor as to why Kroger wanted to work with Scandit. Plans are in place to continue to work in partnership and ensure that Scandit Smart Data Capture continues to give superpowers to Kroger’s workers, customers and business. He adds, “As the Scandit solution had such a wide range of benefits for Kroger, across all of our enterprise solutions, it was an easy call to make.”
Chris also acknowledges the synergies between Kroger and Scandit. “The great thing that I have always seen about Scandit and Kroger working together is that we share the same values and principles; lowering total cost of ownership which we refer to as cost to serve, improving efficiencies, and creating a great customer experience.”
Since utilizing Scandit Smart Data Capture platform within Kroger’s consumer mobile application, the results have surpassed expectations.
For customers, those principles are front and center, particularly for convenience, speed and simplicity – key ingredients that the Kroger consumer mobile app aims to provide. The app provides customers with the ability to keep track of their spend as they shop, while taking advantage of overlaid offers and coupons that are linked to the products being scanned. By linking a payment method directly in the app, customers can speed through their shop and pay as they exit simply by showing a store associate the successful payment screen from their device. No queues, no holdups and a positive experience.
What’s next for Kroger?
“Kroger BOOST is our new membership program that delivers specific benefits for our delivery and pickup customers such as free unlimited grocery deliveries and fuel savings, and we want to take this service to new levels of convenience using AR. We want customers to be able to scan items at home, or in our stores, getting used to that amazing experience, and seeing that it actually works! Scandit is absolutely key to this,” says Chris.
“When people think of a barcode scanning company, they think it’s just that, scanning a single barcode. What Scandit has is an impressive product line that will not only help us unlock a great customer experience but help us to deliver cost savings and efficiencies for the business,” he concludes.
Click here to discover more on how Scandit can give superpowers to workers, customers and retailers.