The Traditional Grocer

Grocery stores are located throughout the world, although their size and range of goods and services vary. According to the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the grocery store industry is made up of supermarkets and convenience stores that do not sell gas. In 2006, there were approximately 34,000 traditional supermarkets. Of these 34,000 traditional supermarkets, 75 percent were operated by a chain of supermarkets that owned 11 or more grocery stores. The rest were operated by independent owners that operate fewer than 11 grocery stores. In 2008, there were 35,394 traditional supermarkets with annual sales of $2 million or more.

Traditional supermarkets sold mostly fresh meats and produce, canned or packaged goods and dry goods such as flour and sugar to people who lived in the neighborhood. They also usually stocked a few nonfood items used in preparing home-cooked meals, such as aluminum foil and paper napkins. These days supermarkets sell a wide range of traditional grocery items, general merchandise, and health and beauty products, plus a wide assortment of prepared foods, such as hot entrees, salads, and deli sandwiches for takeout. Most supermarkets have several specialty departments that may include seafood, meat, bakery, deli, produce, and floral.

For over 20 years grocery stores have been facing growing competition from the warehouse club stores and supercenters. The Food Marketing Institute shows that in 2007 the average size of a grocery store dipped slightly to a median of 47,500 square feet. To compete with club and supercenter stores, grocery stores have been selling more general merchandise items and providing a greater variety of services to cater to the one-stop shopper.

Ethnic grocery stores are some of the fastest-growing stores in the country. Providing specialized services and products unique to a particular neighborhood and its shoppers helps these grocers build loyalty and contribute to a sense of community among local residents. Of course, small grocery stores have been around forever and some old-time neighborhood markets still exist. There is also an increase in the number of grocery stores that cater to upscale clientele and those that sell mostly natural and organic foods. Specialty retailers have proved that shoppers will flock to smaller stores if they are offered a novel experience.

What Your Customers Think of Your POS System

Feature Article by Steve Methvin, Bozzuto’s, Inc.
Today’s grocery customer cares about your POS systems. While customers may be spending less on electronics and technology due to recent economic trends, it does not mean the desire for intuitive systems is gone. Customers appreciate outstanding customer service and expect systems that “smile”. A large rollout of self- scanning systems taught some valuable lessons about customer feedback when planning a new system or upgrade. After spending a considerable amount of time talking with our customers about systems; we learned some new approaches that greatly increased our ROI.

Let me share some lessons learned…
1. “Ask me!” – Remember to ask customers about your systems. A quick survey of about 10% of your customer base can reveal some important elements. Do you need to add a new lane? Is the display clear and easy to read? Is the font legible? Customers appreciate a “vote” and will look forward to seeing the new changes put into effect.
2. “Respect my privacy” – Guard your customer’s privacy. Too much information may not seem like a problem to your cashier; the customer may feel differently. Do you allow customers to buy sensitive items in a discreet way? Respect is a fantastic way to build loyalty (card or no card).
3. “Keep me safe” – Systems have a way of “forcing” customers to stand or move in certain ways. Can they put their purse or baby in a safe place while they do business with you? Do they have to push the baby out into “traffic” to reach the credit card machine? Have you done everything you can to protect her banking information?
4. “Have a backup plan” – When systems fail for whatever reason, do not blame the system in front of the customer. Apologize and execute the back up plan. Most system-related complaints are not that the system fails but that the customer is given no other option!
5. “Tell me about changes” – Retailers work hard to make customers “feel at home” at the store and love to hear customers say “my store”. These same loyal customers may not enjoy the surprise of some new procedure. If we change their system, communicate the change in a positive way.
“Take care of my equipment” – Any system the customer sees or touches should be clean and repaired. Credit card devices and customer displays can reflect the store’s cleaning standards. If your Pinpads look dated or unsecured, customers may question the security of the transaction. Some warehouses, such as Bozzuto’s, have a special program to make sure their retailers have the latest credit card equipment to deliver an outstanding and safe customer experience.

Ask your customers about your systems and be prepared with a pen and note card. It may surprise you to hear what customers think. If they share something not on our list – please share with me at

The Supermarket

These days it’s easy to hear negative news about the economy and it is in the mind of most people. Very few people know that it was in an era, some what similar to this, that the supermarket was born and transformed our way of living.

In the 1930’s, during the time of the Great Depression, the supermarket was born. Prior to 1930, people usually made separate, daily trips to the butcher, baker, produce stand and milk man. Mom-and-pop grocery stores generally carried only one brand of any specific item and products were selected by a clerk behind a counter. In rural areas grocers dispatched so-called huckster wagons to the country to sell canned goods and prepared foods. Customers were dependent on these wagons to deliver the items they needed to survive. The process was erratic, labor intensive and costly.

In 1930, Americans spent 21% of their disposable income on groceries. By 1940, that percentage dropped to 16%. Today, that figure is less than 6%, thanks to innovations in food distribution, mass merchandising and price competition that began in the 1930s. This economy of scale allows consumers to spend more of their disposable income on other things such as automobile, clothing, education, entertainment, etc.

During today’s economic climate, consumers continue to shop with a different trend. People are more educated about the products and are paying more attention to quality as well as price. According to an expert, “Shopping is still a strong source of entertainment, and the thrill of the hunt is more important than ever. It seems to be an antidote to the anxiety people are feeling.” When consumers find bargains, this expert says, “it feels like a win.” The key is for the retailers to engage and entertain their customers without more clutter.

With the technology available today from leading POS system providers such as IBM, retailers are able to meet and exceed consumer demands by utilizing innovative technologies that cut costs and provide valuable information for retailers to better service their customers. Examples are system reliability, customer loyalty program, self-service technology and the ever enhancing consumer-protection security. It is our goal at STCR to continuously deliver cutting edge technologies and support to help our customers do better for their consumers.

GS1 DataBar™

GS1 is a leading global organization dedicated to the design and implementation of global standards and solutions to improve the efficiency and visibility of supply and demand chains globally and across sectors. The GS1 system of standards is the most widely used supply chain standards system in the world.

GS1 DataBar™ symbols can carry more information and identify smaller items than the current EAN/UPC bar code. GS1 DataBar enables GTIN identification for fresh variable measure and hard-to-mark products like loose produce, jewelry and cosmetics. Additionally, GS1 DataBar can carry GS1 Application Identifiers such as serial numbers, lot numbers, and expiration dates, creating solutions to support product authentication and traceability for fresh food products and couponing.

In North America, a new standard for coupons (using GS1 DataBar Expanded) is driving the need to upgrade POS systems by January 2010.
• New symbology allows for additional information to be contained within one bar code
• Supports encoding of the full (6-12 digit) GS1 Company Prefix
• Improves verification of the coupon to the order
• Facilitates cross-selling through validation of up to three coupon requirements
• Decreases cashier intervention requests and mis-validations
• Consumer “saved value” can be in cents, percentage or weight

For more information on GS1 DataBar™ please visit: If you have questions on whether your POS systems are GS1 DataBar™ code capable, please contact the STCR
Marketing team at (607) 757-0181.