Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer – From Amazon to Walmart, everyone’s looking to take a bite out of traditional supermarket sales. How does frozen fit into the mix? We asked a panel of experts what to expect in 2018.

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“The biggest opportunities outside traditional POS and e-commerce are almost all data oriented, including better use of business intelligence, increased leverage of promotional planning and demand forecasting to drive product-by-product pricing decisions,” says vp and practice lead Scott Langdoc of Boston-based Boston Retail Partners. “The more automation and analytics that can be applied to assessing past performance and projecting future demand, the better a retailer can ‘dial in’ the proper blend of projected margin and volume,” he explains. But the technology that appears to hold the most promise is using transactional/loyalty card data to create more personalized pricing to drive specific behaviors. “Retailers that continue to use loyalty programs with simple two-tier pricing can’t win against competitors, including Amazon, that have this kind of analytic DNA in their blood,” he remarks.

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At the other end of the spectrum, Langdoc says premium private label is a particular interest. “Changes in buying behaviors and advertising influence give grocers further opportunities to better position their own brand product offerings, especially when they emphasize quality and taste along with value.” He adds that near instant customer feedback via social media is helping retailers make rapid adjustments to both individual products and whole categories. “Being more agile than competitors or national brands gives grocers the ability to optimize product offerings to a broader customer base.”

And they’ve got technology that makes the task even easier. “The rapid advancement of mobile ordering and location/GPS intelligence is giving QSR and fast casual brands in particular more opportunities to capture customer demand that would typically be directed toward traditional grocery shopping,” says Langdoc. “If dinner is only a single click away and it’s ready at the exact time you arrive for pick up because you gave the restaurant permission to track your location via GPS, that will appeal to consumers — especially millennials — and is a real threat to grocers.” But supermarket chains can do it, too!

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