The Future of Retail Brands looks Easy…

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Technology Innovation – your Customers Best Friend
For retail brands, much of the blue sky is in the innovation of their customers’ shopping experience. There is much hype about making shopping experiences more functional – and increasingly making them faster and easier. For US retailer Ahold and their supermarket retail brands Stop & Shop and Giant supermarkets in the Northeast shoppers scan and bag their own groceries as they navigate the aisles, while a screen keeps a running total of their purchases.

Using a device that looks like a smartphone, shoppers scan grocery items as they add them to their cart. But the retail brand magic is in what comes next. Around a dozen times in an average shopping trip, the device lets out a “Ka-ching” sound as an electronic coupon appears on the screen. Shoppers who use the Scan It system spend about 10% more than the average customer, says Erik Keptner, Ahold’s senior vice president for marketing and consumer insights. He attributes this to targeted coupons and the control consumers feel while using the Scan It device. Customers love the technology as it also helps avoid the frustrating wait at the cashier. Retailers love it because the device encourages shoppers to buy more.

And couldn’t resist adding this short clip of customer joy – someone doing a “scan-it” dance in the middle of Stop & Shop because she discovered the self-scanning device.

For the full run-down you can check this story on the Wall Street journal.

Dave Ansett, Brandamentalist
Retail Brand Obsessive
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  1. Thanks for the post Dave. It is great for Ahold’s brand, positioning themselves as leaders of technology innovation in grocery shopping. Supermakerts seem to be a sector where the battles for brand supremacy are not won simply by price, but innovation and customer experience are key.

  2. You’re right Kim – the stakes are pretty high in the supermarket game. Between technology and own label there is plenty of focus. Recently in the UK I was struck by how much more innovation is directed at own label product development. The store brands were often the leaders in delivering great product (and great value) to the customers.

  3. A small observation on the huge UK supermarkets and their ‘own-label product development’ – they just love to see companies come in and create a new category, they’ll watch them spend all their money, energy and advertising on it for a year or so – and if the category does take off then they’ll smother competition with their own-brand, much cheaper versions and move on… perhaps that is ‘great value’ for the customers, they certainly argue it is, but I’m not so sure.

  4. I agree Dan, in Australia it can be even more heavy handed – with the Supermarkets demanding the manufacturers of the products in the new category produce products for their own labels at lower and lower margins. On one hand they produce a consumer benefit of everyday lower prices, but on the other they are eroding any sense of win-win for manufacturers and brand owners. One of the things I notice when I’m in the UK is that the larger supermarket brands can also innovate (even if it’s after the category has been established) – down here it tends to be poor me-to versions of the category leader.

    • Hi Enrique, the technology in the article is all about making the retail customer’s pathway to purchase easier than ever. Given the tough times retailers face these days, it seems a strong headline for the story. Hope it didn’t confuse and disappoint. Cheers, Dave.

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