Lowes Foods’ Home Delivery & “Small Data” Strategy
Brands all over the world are using digital technology to connect with their customers in new and innovative ways. However, there's often something to be said for the personal touch.
Having your groceries delivered to your home is nothing new in some countries such as the UK, but the concept is now really starting to gain traction here in the US. The convenience of not having to leave the house to pick up everyday essentials is a great selling point for food and beverage brands, with some, such as Waitrose in the UK, even trialing services such as drivers letting themselves into your home via smart locks and putting the shopping away for you - whether you're home or not.
Now, Lowes Foods is getting in on the act, but it has some other ideas about your home to go with it.
The supermarket brand already offers home delivery in many locations but was looking for a way to expand its reach in the Carolinas.
Lowes Foods had stores in the Wilmington, The Triad and The Triangle areas of North Carolina, and the Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville markets in South Carolina, but no easy way of extending home delivery in those locations without a significant infrastructure investment - something which wasn't considered viable at the time.
Lowes Foods decided to seek a partnership with an existing shipping company in the region, counting on the advantages that existing infrastructure and in-depth local knowledge would bring. For this endeavor, the supermarket chain selected Shipt, an Alabama-based shipping brand which is part of the Target Group.
"Our organization is constantly seeking new and innovative ways to expand Lowes Foods' omnichannel footprint and serve guests digitally," said Lowes Foods President Tim Lowe in a statement in late 2018. "Shipt is helping us reach new pockets of guests throughout the Carolinas, introducing them to all of the elements that make Lowes Foods a truly unique grocery experience."
With Shipt, Lowes Foods can now serve the nearly three million houses in the Carolinas, and even offer premium services such as one-hour delivery.
Lowes Foods isn't content with simply bringing groceries to your home, however. It wants to get to know you a little better while it's there - using a concept the supermarket brand is calling "small data."
We're all familiar with big data by now, and the power it possesses to help brands learn more about their customers and their shopping habits. Initiatives such as loyalty card schemes are fantastic for harvesting massive amounts of data and making it available for deep analysis. Small data, however, takes a far more personal approach.
Small data involves Lowes Foods representatives actually going out and meeting with customers in their homes and speaking with them to learn more about what they want, need, and expect from the brands they choose to shop with.
"It was through this use of small data Lowes learned its shoppers desired more connectivity to one another and to their stores, and to have more of a fun experience when they went shopping," said Lowe. "So, Lowes decided to rebrand its chicken section, and to hold regular events - including a daily 'chicken dance', complete with a costume-wearing employee - that upped the experience factor. The chicken dance idea might sound ridiculous, but it generated social media posts and YouTube videos, and chicken sales have gone up fivefold as a result."
It's through initiatives such as the chicken dance and the insights gleaned from small data that Lowes Foods is now endeavoring to become less of a supermarket brand and more of an entertainment company which also sells groceries.
Meeting your audience where they are has long been a core principle of social media marketing, but it's great to see a brand such as Lowes Foods taking the concept to a new level. Whether more retailers will follow Lowes' lead and make the most of small data as well remains to be seen.
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