My Grocer is Getting Social With Me

Back in the day, when I was a toddler, the grocer was like a family friend. When we went into the supermarket, the butcher would see us coming and set his slicer to thinnest mode and get ready to cut some veal for Wiener schnitzel, just as my mother liked it, he would chew the fat with her and give me a saveloy.

Grocer’s over time became more impersonal and started focusing more on customer acquisition with ads and inserts in newspapers and local rags. Then of course subscriptions to the NZ Herald died down to a trickle and they went to a wireless subscription model, which started with a free Kindle for a 2 year subscription and the local papers are down to 1 per week if you’re in a well populated area.

Impersonal probably isn’t fair because of course I now have a tablet magnet mounted on my fridge which the F&P fridge scanner talks to and that send the order direct to my local Countdown  supermarket for pick up (if I want to touch and feel the fruit or extra little things) or home delivery. The tablet is connected to the home network and lets us watch cooking lessons, checking if we need any of the ingredients to be added to the shopping list, as well as the usual things like streaming music, TV, Skype, internet etc.  just as the other tablets around the house do.

Anyway, I was talking about the switch from acquisition to retention, or back to basics, but using modern technology. I was getting frustrated with the construction at our local supermarket, but am now so impressed with the way they have embraced social media in and out of the store with their new studio. Well it looks like a recording studio, but basically it has no window, so that you can talk to the guys while they are running Facebook, Foursquare Check-In Deals and Twitter campaigns with big video projector displays on the wall showing discussions they are having within and outside of the store.

These people are getting to know real customers and having relationships with them, generating loyalty that reminds me of the way grocers used to do it back in the day.

I remember the story that a friend told me many years ago, of how she went to Lincoln North Pak N Save with twin girls who were really hard to manage. The owner John Street went to her, gave her his business card and said to call him personally and he would arrange for someone to entertain the twins while she was shopping.

I spoke to him subsequently, although he didn’t know that I knew them personally and he explained. A loyal customer like her who spends around $150 a week (I know it was a long time ago) is worth more then $23,000 over 3 years. Now if you think about what it costs to get a new customer, an investment in social media, taken from what they used to spend on daily newspaper advertising isn’t much is it?

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