Skip to main content

PULSE at FMI Connect: Connecting with Purpose


According to Shelly Palmer, host of Fox TV’s “Shelly Palmer Digital Living” and a technology consultant, anything that can be connected will be connected. Unfortunately, not everything that can be connected is worthy of connecting. Knowing what connections are right for supermarkets is daunting to grocery retailers struggling in a world where tools can’t keep up with the rate of evolution. But all is not lost, he told attendees at PULSE: Technology Enabling the Path to Modern Retailing, presented collaboratively by Progressive Grocer, Retail Leader and the Food Marketing Institute. PULSE took place as an event within FMI Connect in Chicago last week.

Grocery retailers must be strategic in the questions they ask in order to get the results and systems they need for the future. Like other presenters at PULSE and throughout the technology world, retailers must first adopt the mindset that investing in technology for their stores isn’t a one-and-done, but will be an ever-evolving business decision and investment. What kinds of relationships do we want with our shoppers? What tools are our shoppers using that will positively impact their shopping experience? What solutions – existing or in the future – will make this experience richer for both banner and shopper?

Palmer asked retailers to consider some of the behavioral shifts underway in the consumer-sphere:

  • Consumers are interested in access, not just ownership. We used to be a culture of owners, wanting materials goods, but now are happy to access these items without the need for ownership. Consider Zipcars or Netflix, for example.
  • Consumers are willing to pay with personal data, cash or a combination of the two. With Facebook and Google, consumers pay with cash. For other services, including Netflix and Spotify, consumers pay with data and with cash.

When considering the behavioral changes of consumers, Palmer gave retailers a simple, positive takeaway: When viewing customers, resist the notion of drilling down to single shoppers and focus on clusters. Look beyond the demographic breaks of gender, age, household income, etc., and focus on behavior. Cluster shoppers who “act” similarly, and let that guide decisions on promotions, assortments, and experience. “Find the patterns and common elements of what’s interesting to these people," Palmer said. "Add value to their lives. Yes, we have a lot of data and tools, but humans still interact with each other and with stores…. Adjust your thinking.” It feels like personalization to the shopper, but it’s easier to execute for the retailer.   


This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds