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Progressive Grocer's 1st Innovation Awards Presented at GroceryTech

Honors go to Cingari Family ShopRite, The Fresh Market, Sam’s Club
PG GroceryTech Innovation Awards Main Image
At Progressive Grocer's inaugural GroceryTech Innovation Awards presentation, held during its recent GroceryTech event in Dallas, honors went to Cingari Family ShopRite, The Fresh Market and Sam's Club.

At its recent GroceryTech Event, which took place June 5-7 in Dallas, Progressive Grocer revealed the recipients of its inaugural GroceryTech Innovation awards in a ceremony held on the afternoon of June 6. The program recognizes three food retailers in the Large Chain (300-plus stores), Mid-Tier (50-299 stores), and Small Operator (49 or fewer stores) categories that are implementing the most exciting and creative technological initiatives in the industry. The winners in each category were Sam’s Club, The Fresh Market and Cingari Family ShopRite, respectively.

Norwalk, Conn.-based Cingari Family ShopRite, which operates 12 supermarkets, was honored for its “unique sustainability program for managing food waste that’s serving as a tech model for the grocery industry,” noted PG Editor-in-Chief Gina Acosta, who presented the awards. The independent grocer has developed a three-tier process, The Hierarchy of Surplus Food, for handling waste to eliminate sending food to landfills and contributing to greenhouse-gas emissions. First, they collect unsold food items and incorporate them into in-store dishes. Second, they donate non-saleable food to local food banks and charities to alleviate food insecurity within the community. Finally, they compost food waste with the help of technology from  Hartford, Conn.-based Blue Earth Compost. Through this program, Shoprite is composting roughly 100 tons of organic material per month — about the weight of a 767 jumbo jet. In 10 years, they’ve reduced “waste to landfills” by more than 60% while simultaneously growing by three new stores. These successes are communicated weekly to employees and relayed to shoppers through store signage in and around participating departments at all 12 locations. 

After 40 years in business, Greensboro, N.C.-based The Fresh Market wanted to reach an untapped audience with the potential to drive new business to its stores. The company connected with its digital audience using short- and long-form shoppable video livestreams, which enabled it to touch e-commerce grocery super-users and consumers by allowing them to become active participants in a virtual shopping and sensory experience closely mirroring the in-store experience. In the process, The Fresh Market pioneered a first-of-its-kind retail media network (RMN) to boost sales. It launched its first RMN in 2023 – the first-ever shoppable video-live commerce RMN in the United States. While the overwhelming majority of RMNs rely on static display and search, The Fresh Market differentiated itself in the market by leveraging livestreaming to enable a first-of-its-kind, video-driven RMN experience. This has effectively increased the company’s e-commerce sales above forecasted projections. Across all KPIs, the grocer's shoppable video campaigns have redefined live shopping and e-commerce while pioneering a retail media network.

[RELATED: How Albertsons and Hy-Vee Approach Retail Media]

Bentonville, Ark.-based Sam’s Club, a chain of 600 membership warehouse clubs, decided to focus on a key member concern: waiting in line for receipt verification to exit a club. After a member completes payment at a register or via Scan & Go, a combination of computer vision technology and AI within the exit area of a club captures images of items in the carts and matches with receipts to verify payment for all items within a member’s basket. This new tech is delivering a significantly improved member experience by leveraging a first-of-its- kind application of artificial intelligence and computer vision technology to decrease queuing at the club’s exit area. The technology is used to seamlessly confirm that members have paid for all items in their shopping carts – without requiring a member specialist to check members’ purchases before leaving the club. By embracing technology and leveraging AI capabilities, the club is staying ahead of the curve and adapting to the changing expectations of its members. Overall, the integration of this AI technology in Sam’s Club has driven efficiency, improved convenience and ultimately enhanced the overall shopping experience for members.

Gloria Reardon, director of brand marketing and consumer research at The Fresh Market, accepted the award on behalf of her company, while Mike Schubert, principal product manager and Lingfeng Zhang, engineering manager, computer vision head, both of Sam’s Club, accepted on behalf of theirs. PG accepted Cingari’s award, as company representatives were unable to attend.

Sam’s Club is a division of Walmart, which operates more than 10,500 stores and numerous e-commerce websites in 20 countries. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on Progressive Grocer’s 2024 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, while its Sam’s Club division is No. 8. Cingari Family ShopRite is a member of Keasbey, N.J.-based retailer cooperative Wakefern Food Corp., which is No. 31 on The PG 100, and The Fresh Market, operating 162 stores across 22 states, is No. 71 on PG’s list.

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