Retail Revamped With a Digital Touch

January 23, 2017 Stefanie Neyland

As featured in the December issue of Retail CIO Outlook magazine

 

Since the dawn of the Web, the grocery landscape has been ripe for disruption. Consumers have become increasingly comfortable using technologies, devices and services that make everyday tasks—like shopping, cooking and list-making—easier and more efficient; and the retailers that are aligning themselves with this seismic shift are thriving, while those who aren’t risk losing competitive ground.  

 

Headed by a dynamic and articulate retail industry thought leader, Sylvain Perrier, President and CEO, Mercatus is helping grocers adopt this change and cater to the ever-evolving needs of today’s shoppers. With more than a decade of executive-level experience in retail technology, Perrier is driving the success of many of North America’s best-known retailers with the company’s easy-to-use technology. The solutions offered by Mercatus allow retailers to overcome challenges prevalent in the landscape, from limited resources and traditionally ‘siloed’ knowledge, to the need for agility and the current fragmentation of many existing technologies.

 

Bridging the Gap

Headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Mercatus is the brainchild of a group of passionate innovators who identified a gap in the retail technology market. The conception of Mercatus was based on the observation that shoppers are switching off to traditional marketing vehicles, and are instead craving more digital interactions with their brands. Since then, the company has been redefining the digital experience within the realm of grocery, with a purpose to empower grocers to create best-in-breed shopping experiences for their customers.

 

Most companies today realize that embracing advanced technologies and moving to digital is paramount to building connections with shoppers and delivering what they want. “Personalization, done right, goes a long way to create consumer affinity,” Perrier observes. “If you can get the right product in the hands of the right consumer at the right time, it goes a long way for a brand. What we see in grocery stores today is a real blend of commerce and consumer experience.” To achieve this, retailers require an in-depth knowledge of customer choices, and the consumer-facing solutions offered by Mercatus provide just that. Once a shopper creates an account, the company starts to register preferences and other ancillary information that can then be used to create customized user experiences. That information is then synchronized to a retailer’s loyalty system, which allows them to gain a clear picture of the consumer they are interacting with on a one-to-one basis. This sort of information is extremely helpful for retailers that normally wouldn’t have access to the individual preferences of their shoppers.

 

Uniting Consumers and Merchants

“We ensure that what we do on behalf of retailers is—from a customer experience perspective— multi-channel, and very succinctly omni-channel as well,” expresses Perrier. He believes that Mercatus stands apart from its competitors because the company owns its back-end technology and brings to the table more than 35 integration points, which gives it a great deal of flexibility. “Another way we maintain competitiveness within the industry is by making sure that our solutions sets are in line with our client’s requirements.”

 

 

 

At a time when retailers are constrained in their existing brick and mortar investments and unable to stock bulkier items inside their store, Mercatus offers them ‘Endless Aisle.’ The solution enables grocery retailers to use in-store kiosks that allow customers to order products that are no longer in stock or not sold in the store, and then have the product shipped to their homes. Capabilities like these create the difference between being a traditional grocery retailer versus more of a big-box store. Another common challenge that many retailers face is the effective management of labor and order fulfilment, which may adversely erode margins, impacting their return on investment in eCommerce. Sensing the need for a system that would enable retailers to determine the efficiency of store employees that are on-site picking and packing orders, Mercatus came up with ‘Capacity Scheduling,’ which allows retailers to forecast and schedule the laborers’ workloads.

 

 

Perrier credits the success of Mercatus to the strong strategic relationships that the company has built in the industry over the years, which in turn has helped develop its eCommerce technology. “We’ve been able to harness and bring together a lot of different third party solutions that really make up a complete, all-in-one package for our retailers, which helps them leverage their various investments,” observes Perrier. Mercatus’ technology has been fulfilling shopper’s needs not just on web, but on mobile too.

 

The company also spends a great deal of its time going out to market with its solutions and testing various elements—such as the user interface (UI)—to ensure both shoppers’ and retailers’ needs are met. “When it comes to shoppers, we specifically target consumers that are reflective of the personas that retailers are dealing with on a daily basis,” explains Perrier. “We then take that feedback, share it with our retailers, and readjust our solutions accordingly.”

 

“We ensure that what we do on behalf of retailers is, from a customer experience perspective, multi-channel, and very succinctly omni-channel as well.”

 

The Future of Smart Technology

With Mercatus’ proprietary research indicating that 70 percent of all consumers expect next-day delivery in the world of grocery eCommerce, the company is actively working with transportation management system providers—as well as consumer-based technologies vendors—to be able to fulfil those needs. Perrier is keeping a watchful eye on emerging technology in the eCommerce space, and believes that digital assistance is the future of virtual merchandising. “Having the ability to say something like, ‘Grocery store; milk; eggs,’ to a digital assistant to automatically build out your shopping list, order those items, and pay for them without ever having to lift a finger, would be a really interesting application of this kind of technology. We may be anywhere from three to five years away from these types of solutions, but in order for them to be successful, I think it’s important for them to open up their back-ends to other companies, so that eCommerce platforms can exploit these solutions in an easy and efficient fashion,” expresses Perrier. He concludes by emphasizing Mercatus’ dedication to transforming the world of grocery retail by presenting complete control and flexibility of the Mercatus platform to its retailers.  

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