CINCINNATI -- Kroger has a plan to reinvent itself amid the changing field of grocery retailing, and technology will play a large role in a plan the chain calls Restock Kroger.
The stated goal of Restock Kroger is to “redefine the food and grocery customer experience in America,” according to the company. In addition to a renewed digital focus, the chain is also changing its investment strategy and taking another look at its convenience-store business.
Click through for more information on Kroger’s tech-focused game plan for 2018 and beyond …
1. Scan with a phone, pay on the go
Kroger plans to open 400 new stores this year, and each store is slated to include the chain’s improved cashierless checkout initiative, “Scan, Bag, Go,” according to Kroger.
The initiative, which was tested in 20 stores in 2017, is similar to Walmart’s Scan & Go app. Customers can scan the barcodes of products they select with a smartphone or Kroger scanner and then pay at a self-checkout register.
Eventually, the chain plans on improving the technology so that customers can skip the self-checkout register and pay directly through the Kroger app.
2. The goal is to be seamless
Another leg of the Restock Kroger program is the focus on melding the physical and digital worlds of grocery shopping. That’s where ClickList, an online-ordering and store-pickup service, comes in, according to CSP sister publication Winsight Grocery Business (WGB).
Kroger now has 1,000 stores that offer online grocery ordering through ClickList. The program also gives customers access to relevant products and recipes, digital coupons, weekly ads and shopping lists.
"Our efforts are all about making things easier for our customers and providing personalized, affordable and exclusive options that fit their needs. Seamless will play a major role in redefining the grocery customer experience," said CEO Rodney McMullen during a recent earnings call. He also added that Kroger’s third-quarter digital revenue growth was 109% driven by ClickList.
3. Pay with Chase
Kroger is giving customers the option of making both in-store and e-commerce payments with Chase Pay in select retail markets in 2018. The move to Chase Pay reflects the program goal to form alliances that accelerate digital and e-commerce platforms, according to WGB.
"Technology is transforming our customers' experiences and greatly influencing how we are reimagining the store of the future," Chris Hjelm, Kroger's chief information officer, said in a statement. "Mobile wallets enable a more seamless shopping experience for our customers and at the same time, can help us drive cost out of our business."
4. More than just tech
In addition to shifting the focus to e-commerce, Kroger is taking other steps to improve the customer shopping experience. This includes incrementally investing a total of $500 million in the chain’s store associates for better pay and training and potentially spinning off its c-store business, according to WGB.
Kroger’s 780 c-stores across 18 states generated $1.4 billion of revenue in 2016.