Kroger Doubles Down

Frozen and Refrigerated Buyer – America’s No. 1 grocer ups the ante with new ‘Restock’ initiative. Will its bet pay off? After watching quarterly comps fall for the first time since 2003 earlier this year, the leaders of the nation’s No. 1 supermarket chain, Cincinnati-based Kroger, knew they needed a new approach. But what they came up with sounds to some industry observers a lot like the old one, sparking com- plaints that the retailer is simply doubling down on existing bets. Nothing revolutionary there. Nothing new. Just a lot more of what the chain already does. In fact, a recent RetailWire discussion on the question of whether or not Kroger is in denial about the magnitude of its challenges — particularly the Amazon/e- commerce threat — yielded comments like “same old, same old,” “increased table stakes,” “the vision is missing” and “what retailer isn’t doing something like this?”

To be fair, though, even detractors have to admit that, as the largest collector of food purchase data in the United States, Kroger does what it does better than just about everyone else. “Doubling down on some- thing you already are the best at is actually a smart strategy,” says Ken Morris, principal at Boston-based Boston Retail Partners. “Kroger has been the leader in leveraging customer data and analytics to optimize assortments, space, pricing and promotions.” But that doesn’t mean it can’t be better, he continues, citing opportunities to use data in real-time rather than after customers leave the store — a shift that could give the chain a significant competitive advantage over other mainstream brick- and-mortar supermarkets.

While not everyone agrees that’s enough to guarantee success in an e-commerce world, most believe there will always be a place for physical stores — though perhaps not as many. If Kroger is able to build on its strengths, says Morris, it’s likely to not only survive the retail transformation but thrive.

Read full article: Kroger Doubles Down (page 30)

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