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Retail and Foodservice 2025: Omni-Channel Proficiency

Ed_McKiernan Ed McKiernan | President, Emerson Retail Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Welcome back for the final installment of our series highlighting the top five trends driving change within the grocery retail and chained foodservice markets in the coming years. The final trend we are taking a closer look at is Omni-Channel Proficiency.

Emerson and global research firm Euromonitor International worked together to identify the megatrends impacting retail and restaurant operations and facilities management over the next eight years.

If you haven’t already, you may want to first read our previous posts where we focused on the first four trends: Digital Shoppers, Focus on Convenience,  New Retail Formats, and Experiential Retail.

So what do we mean by Omni-Channel Proficiency? The common misconception is that “omni-channel” refers solely to online consumer engagement and shopping. It is more than that. It has to do with looking at all the different ways retailers need to be available for consumer engagement. A growing number of consumers are no longer coming to the retailer. To capture sales, retailers need to meet consumers halfway and go where they are; they need to be omnipresent.

The omni-channel concept pulls together many of the topics previously discussed within the other trends, including digital devices, customer experience, convenience, and Millennials. Omni-channel consumers have more frequent shopping experiences and spend more money than traditional shoppers. According to recent research, there has been a 23 percent increase in shopping trips among U.S. omni-channel shoppers and a 13 percent increase in spend among the group.

Omni-Channel Proficiency means facilitating sales anytime, anywhere in a seamless way for consumers. These consumers are “always shopping.” They are checking prices or browsing on their smartwatches or phones at all hours of the day and night. They want consistent experiences online and in brick-and-mortar locations.

One way retailers are trying to create this consistent experience is through customer loyalty programs. Unfortunately, many programs are falling short of consumer expectations. The most common mistake that retailers make with their loyalty program is that they treat it as a completely different entity within their brand. For instance, only allowing use of loyalty card online or in brick-and-mortar sites, or putting restrictions on use through the brand’s mobile app.

From a consumer perspective, that can be really frustrating. They want one seamless experience, regardless where or when they are interacting with the brand. And surprising to some, they do not necessarily want everything to be only digital or online. This is supported by the fact that we are seeing traditional online players incorporating brick-and-mortar into their brand experience. For instance, Amazon recently opened a bookstore location and will soon be introducing its curbside drive-up grocery store.

So, what can retail and foodservice organizations do in terms of facility management and operations to help support Omni-Channel Proficiency?

  • Facilities – Ensure seamless interaction between technology, operations, and store design to increase customer engagement and eliminate inefficiencies and lower costs.
  • Supply Chain – Increase focus on tracking inventory and warehouse strategy to expand reach at low costs and fulfill multiple channels from one site.
  • e-Commerce – Implement an infrastructure that supports online interaction and personalized, real-time engagement to slow industry commoditization and build equity against competitors.
  • Human Resources – Offer consistent customer service that allows troubleshooting and product returns from anywhere to increase customer satisfaction and build brand loyalty.
  • Customer Experience – Create consistent experience across formats that enables the ability to shop anywhere, anytime to increase brand loyalty and sales.

As the trends covered in this series illustrate, the grocery retail and chained foodservice environments are quickly evolving. It’s important that operators understand the impact these changes will have on their operations and plan accordingly to ensure strong sales and customer loyalty.

National Food Safety Month: Helping You Keep Food Fresh From Farm to Fork

September is National Food Safety month so we thought this would be the perfect time to share with you some of our favorite industry articles and tips that will help you keep food fresh “from farm to fork”. Retailers are investing more in fresh foods to keep up with consumer demand, and keeping food safe is imperative.


This podcast from the Food Management Institute discusses the Food Safety Modernization Act’s (FSMA) Sanitary Transportation rule and the key changes that it requires. You’ll learn how this rule impacts recordkeeping and documentation requirements for the transportation of food. This podcast helps retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers identify what procedures they’ll need to have in place in order to comply.

The Investor Responsibility Research Center (IRRC) did a study of highly publicized food scares in the global food chain that have occurred in recent years, such as the recent E.Coli and norovirus outbreaks at Chipotle. They examined these food safety events to identify the behavioral, regulatory and technological factors that have caused the food industry to become increasingly proactive in keeping food safe. This report covers the role of the FSMA in improving food safety, the globalization of the food supply chain and some of the technological innovations that have improved food safety.

Need detailed plans on how to set up a food safety program? This checklist from DEKRA Insight, a global safety consulting organization, can help. It covers building a team, developing policies, training, tracking and how to handle recalls and other issues that arise.

FoodLogicQ did a poll of 2,000 U.S. consumers to gauge their opinion on food traceability and expectations for companies on recalls and foodborne illness. Their report details the cost of food recalls not only in terms of dollars but in brand damage and lost sales. The survey shows that a majority of respondents want food companies to fully address recalls or illness within 1-2 days. Transparency in labeling, sourcing and having a plan to deal with problems will go a long way to growing and retaining your customers.

And no compilation of articles would be complete without a few of our own. Last year we did a series of articles on food safety for Food Safety month. In these articles, you’ll learn about the impact of FSMA, how to help prevent food safety issues with remote monitoring services, and best practices for transporting foods. To learn more about remote monitoring, read the article Emerson’s Ron Chapek wrote for Food Safety magazine. You’ll learn what options are available, and how remote monitoring minimized food loss expense for a large food retailer.


Retail and Foodservice 2025: Experiential Retail

Ed_McKiernan Ed McKiernan | President, Emerson Retail Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

For this, our fourth installment of our series on the top five trends impacting grocery retail and chained foodservice markets, we take a closer look at the Experiential Retail trend.

In an effort to identify the megatrends strongly shaping retail and restaurant operations and facilities management over the next eight years, Emerson worked with global research firm Euromonitor International. Be sure to check out our previous posts where we focused on the first three trends: Digital Shoppers, Focus on Convenience, and New Retail Formats.

The growing options for how and where consumers can shop is forcing retailers to differentiate in an effort to increase or maintain foot traffic. This is driving an effort by brick-and-mortar stores to create an experience consumers can’t get online. We as an industry are seeing that experiences are important and will stand out with consumers. According to a 2014 study, 78 percent of U.S. millennials would rather spend money on a desirable experience than on goods.

So, regardless of whether you are managing a large format food retail operation, convenience store or restaurant the question you need to ask yourself is “How can I bring a relevant experience to my customers, regardless of my retail format?”

There are three prominent sub-trends we are seeing within Experiential Retail that can provide better clarity and understanding of the concept. The first is “retail-tainment,” which is the idea of utilizing technology and tools onsite to provide a level of entertainment. These technologies and tools are sometimes “gimmicky” and serve no other purpose than to provide an experience and facilitate interaction. One example is Target’s Wonderland, a holiday pop up store in Texas. The space featured 10 “spectacles,” including a jumbo Etch-a-Sketch, and it provided a retail-tainment experience aimed at families.

The second sub-trend is having experts on-site to leverage and offer a greater experience for consumers. For instance, having a nutritionist or dietician available to offer healthy eating tips or a wine expert to answer questions and suggest new wines. The third is the usage of virtual and augmented reality in brick-and-mortar locations. This can offer a cool and different experience to draw in consumers, as well as offer some immediate gains. For instance, augmented reality could be used to help consumers navigate the store and easily find the products they need.

One retailer that is already capitalizing on the Experiential Retail trend is an Italian foodservice chain that bills itself as “the largest Italian marketplace in the world”. It provides a unique experience by bringing Italy to the consumer. Consumers can shop, taste food and drinks and learn about Italian culture, through onsite wine bars, restaurants, and marketplaces.

So, what can retail and foodservice organizations do in terms of facility management and operations to help create a unique or memorable customer experience?

  • Facilities – Repurpose physical assets, such as branding tools and one specific store location, or to build equity against competitors.
  • Supply Chain – Repurpose possible non-experiential sites as fulfillment centers to provide faster delivery and better defend market share.
  • e-Commerce – Create personalized shopper marketing and ensure a positive digital experience to attract and retain more loyal customers.
  • Human Resources – Implement a consumer-centric mission that shifts employee mindset to enhance experiences that will improve equity against competitors and drive foot traffic.
  • Customer Experience – Create new experiential atmosphere and bring in low or “no cost” value adds that will engage shoppers and draw in-store traffic and create upsell opportunities.

Be sure to join us for our final post in this series, which will take a look at the fifth megatrend impacting retail and restaurant operations and facilities management: Omni-Channel Proficiency.

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