Kimberton Whole Foods
How Automating Key Areas can Yield Profit Growth, Opportunity, and Efficiency
Kimberton Whole Foods is an independently owned natural grocery chain with four locations and a central warehouse in Pennsylvania. Serving the communities of Kimberton, Douglassville, Downingtown, Ottsville, and surrounding areas, Kimberton Whole Foods offers health food with an emphasis on creating a "dynamically supportive marketplace" for organic farmers and local producers.
The business started in 1988 as a small store within Seven Stars Farm, but they soon outgrew their Seven Stars location and moved to the Village of Kimberton. From there, it did not take long for demand to lead Owner Terry Brett to further expansion and additional locations were opened.
Kimberton Whole Foods goes beyond store shelves in their quest to promote healthy lifestyles and local agriculture by offering educational classes, a fresh food café, wholesome recipes and supporting industry causes such as the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA).
In 2003, Brett decided to implement CATAPULT retail automation after seeing the system at a natural products trade show. Kimberton had operated with manual processes to that point, but Brett could see that they were quickly outgrowing this labor-intensive, often ineffective, method of enterprise management. Management noticed the benefits of system implementation immediately, even with a steep learning curve and sometimes difficult transition to new processes. It did not take long for staff at Kimberton Whole Foods, a sales-oriented, customer-focused business, to realize time was better spent elsewhere than manually stickering, and re-stickering, every item and waiting for pricing guns. Customer checkouts also became faster and more accurate, an improvement appreciated by staff and customers. Over the years, Kimberton Whole Foods has experienced some transitional periods with the system but, as Brett discusses below, has overcome obstacles to now enjoy a powerful system that provides complete, centralized enterprise management with tangible return on investment.
Research continues to show that healthy employees are essential to your company’s bottom line! From increased daily productivity, to fewer sick days, to significant reductions in employee healthcare expenditures; a healthy staff means big benefits for all parties involved! After all, what employer wouldn’t want their most valuable asset to be in optimal health?
Various types of employee wellness initiatives exist, most of which provide positive results, but let’s face it; research confirms that what we eat can have a significant impact on our overall health and longevity, as well as daily performance, so to see major results, it’s a good idea to start there. With preventable diseases like obesity and diabetes on the rise and heart disease and stroke remaining two of the top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S., it’s obvious that undesirable dietary patterns are much to blame for many of the health disparities we face today.
You are probably thinking that changing the eating habits of some employees would be a daunting, near impossible task, leaving many disgruntled that you're attempting to impede their right to a daily fast food outing. However, approaching the situation the right way, could result in major kudos from your staff and positive changes in your company overall! What if, you made healthy, yet delicious, food readily available to your staff right in the company break room as a perk to employees? For many employees, the vending machine is the first defense against the sudden onset of hunger, leading most down the road to decreased energy, poor productivity, and overeating from lack of satiety. What if, you removed those unhealthy snacks, characteristic of traditional vending machines, and replaced them with nutrient dense foods that were still appealing to staff?
Using a self-checkout market kiosk, a glass cooler, and a rack or two for dry goods, you can transform your break room and your staff into a wealth of health! To stock your break room with nutritious foods, team up with a local caterer or food vendor who can regularly furnish fresh, healthy items. You could even consider working with a registered dietitian in the area who can help with menu planning and ensure items are good for employees and taste good too! Going a step further by working with the dietitian or other health professionals in the community to provide nutrition information to employees, would be a great way to motivate staff to take advantage of the new break room. Education could be as simple indicating “heart healthy” menu items with a special seal of approval or, a bit more involved like monthly “lunch-and-learn” seminars. Feel free to keep it simple, but knowledge is key to initiating behavior change, so including an education piece will help ensure success!
Your employees will be amazed at the speed and simplicity of purchasing meals from your on-site market, allowing some extra time during the lunch break for a walk or quick workout! Some vending kiosks provide customers the ability to load cash onto a membership card that can be used for purchases, making transactions quick and easy. Membership accounts are also great because they can store individual information, which could be linked to employee health initiatives, for example, awarding purchase points to the member with high cholesterol each time they make a heart healthy choice. You could even consider subsidizing healthier options as an incentive to make better choices or, get right down to business and only stock healthy items. Even if you don’t go all out by supplying only optimal choices, placing less nutritious items on lower shelves, could make these items less visible, and require a little work to obtain them. Studies have proven these simple methods to be effective in decreasing consumption of less nutritious foods. Either way you go, making healthy foods more accessible to employees will greatly increase the likelihood that positive dietary changes will result, leaving employees happier, healthier and engaged!
See how our free Micro Market installation can trasform your workplace here!
ECRS is a great family. And this family believes in helping you. After browsing the infographic below, swing by ECRS.com to learn more about what we can do for you.
Click on image to see larger version.
Smartphones are prevalent in the United States. “Survey: New U.S. Smartphone Growth by Age and Income” at nielsen.com showed statistics for 20,000 mobile users. Over 48 percent of these users have smartphones. With such widespread usage, small businesses will do well to take advantage of this technology in marketing their products and services. Using smartphone applications for marketing purposes will reach a target audience accustomed to having information a few taps away on their phone. Tailoring marketing information, product descriptions, availability, and other information to fit their needs will promote loyalty. In a world where so much information can be found online, convenient access across the mobile platforms will help make your business stand out from the competition.
Businesses who are interested in creating a smartphone application for their stores have various options:
Have a developer create the application. According to Smartphone Apps Fuel Business Growth at entrepeneur.com, this can cost between 2-8 thousand dollars depending on the complexity of the app.
Develop your own application from programs such as iPhone Developer or Sweb Apps. These methods will cost between 100 and 300, depending on the platform you choose.
In addition to creating mobile apps for marketing purposes, you can also use current applications for internal purposes making your business more efficient. “Small Businesses Love Mobile Technology” states that 78% of business owners claim to save time by using mobile applications. The question is, what apps will businesses find most useful...
LucyPhone: This convenient application will save hours of time. With LucyPhone, you will never have to wait on hold when placing calls. Open this application, enter a toll free number, and when you get put on hold, press “*” twice on your phone. This will end the phone call, but still keep you on hold. As soon as an employee is on the phone, Lucy will call you back immediately and you will be connected with the employee.
Dropbox: Save them to this application and view them from any phone, tablet, or computer that has installed Dropbox. This convenient program will avoid having to use those pesky USB drives that are easy to misplace or damage. With your information saved using this cloud technology, you will be sure to have access to all of your vital documents. This free application will certainly be put to good use. With Dropbox, there are three subscription rates. The first is free, offering 2 GB of storage space. The Pro offers 100, 200, or 500 GB starting at $9.99 a month. The teams subscription starts at a base price of $759 and offers 1 TB for five users. By keeping only the most current documents on Dropbox, small business owners will likely be able to effectively use this service without purchasing a subscription.
Quickoffice: Edit Word and Excel documents right from your mobile device. It is no longer necessary to wait until you have computer access to work on these important files. Documents can be written on your mobile device while using public transportation, waiting for your party to arrive at a restaurant, at a park, on your couch, or any other location where your cell phone goes! This app adds convenience and flexibility into the equation for people who have deadlines and smartphones. This $14.99 app will be well worth the cost, and can be very efficient when used in conjunction with Dropbox. With both of these apps, users can create their documents and have them available at any computer, without the hassle of additional hardware.
MbPointer: If you have an iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone, use these devices as a remote control for your PowerPoint presentations at conferences. As long as the receiver application is installed on the computer you are using, this app will allow you to easily take control of your presentations. You will no longer have to worry about working smartboards, or purchasing and working expensive remotes. This app also allows you to turn your mobile Apple product into a wireless trackpad. This can especially come in handy if you are working on a computer that has a less than satisfactory mouse or touchpad. This application only costs $2.99.
Skype: This free application will allow you to videoconference and instant message with customers, coworkers, and any other variety of people that business owners will need to contact. This is especially convenient because you can communicate with someone overseas in a face to face videoconference for free. Many languages are supported by this app, making it useful for international or foreign businesses as well.
iTeleport: This groundbreaking application will be sure to help make running your business easier and more efficient. As long as your devices meet certain requirements, it will be possible to Photoshop from your iPhone, iPad, and other compatible devices. This truly awesome application will allow you to access your computer from anywhere in the world. Although this app has the potential to be “fun,” it also has many practical uses for the business owner. For example, if you saved an important file on your computer, and for some reason chose not to bring it, or accidentally leave it at home, it will be possible to access your files. It is also possible to view Flash sites on your iPhone or iPad!
With these invaluable applications, business owners are sure to save time which they can direct towards customer service and finding innovative ways to improve business. Taking advantage of smartphone technology in both marketing and internal organization, small business owners will be sure to take advantage of the latest developments, giving them a competitive edge in the marketplace.
In today's retail, where customers have a multitude of choices, small business owners understand the value of every guest that walks through the door. Whether it’s the first time shopper or the customer that comes in every weekend or three times per week, each one adds to the profitability of the business and provides an opportunity to make that customer want to return or chat about your business with their friends. Nurturing your customers from simply consumers to members of your culture who faithfully follow your brand, doesn’t have to take a costly advertising campaign, impractical for many small business owners. Creating a following of customers committed to your brand can be achieved using a low cost, points-based program like many mega-brands with large marketing budgets are using today. Points-based loyalty programs are simple to start up and can provide unique benefits that make a significant positive contribution to your bottom line.
With customizable loyalty programs, points can be tailored to meet the unique needs of your business and your customers. For example, points can be used to reward specific customers for loyalty, move sale items, provide holiday incentives or even allow customers to donate to their favorite charity. To meet the needs of your business, loyalty points can typically be set to match specific price margins and provide useful, real-time data about your customers and the purchases they make. In addition, your customer loyalty program is a great way to establish your brand.
Research estimates that it costs 5 times more to attract a new customer than it does to keep an existing one, which is why it’s important to keep customers coming back time after time. Loyal customers likely return because they have a positive attitude about your business which is reflected not only by continued purchases, but also by spreading the word about your business to their friends. Providing loyalty points is a fantastic way to give customers a positive emotional connection with your brand! However, with all the loyalty programs around today, it’s important to think outside the box and make sure customers are getting something out of yours. A recent poll from The Chief Marketing Officer Council found that over half of the U.S. population is motivated to return as a customer based on loyalty incentives, but almost all of these individuals felt that the loyalty program had little or no value, which can eventually deter once loyal customers. The following tips will help ensure you and your customers get the most out of your loyalty program.
Know your customers: Determine why customers are loyal to your business. Use customer purchasing data to help define the terms of your loyalty program, such as how much your best customers typically spend, and what your customers would get more out of, for example: rewards on purchases, referral rewards, or both? Then tailor the loyalty program to customers to provide a personalized experience and rewards that will entice them to return.
Think about what you want to achieve: For example: Do you want customers to purchase more of specific items, or are you more interested in having them make referrals to their friends?
Keep it simple: Customers want a simple to understand reward system with clearly defined rewards that give them something tangible to work towards. Too many exclusions and complicated terms are some main reasons customers see little value in a loyalty program. Also, the easier it is, the bigger impression it will make and the more customers will talk it up to their friends.
Differentiate your loyalty program from competitors: With so many rewards programs, it’s important to make yours stand out. Offer your customers something creative like the ability to donate rewards to their favorite charity or a mini (1 minute or less) shopping spree. Keep rewards fresh, experiment with new reward ideas frequently, and try to come up with conversation starters.
Use loyalty to market your brand: Give your loyalty program a unique name that closely relates to your brand strategy and include your company logo on all loyalty related materials. Then be sure to advertise your loyalty program and offer something extra in the beginning as an incentive to join.
Engage your customers: Give customers something to work towards but don’t make it so far out of reach that they can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Set up your program so loyal customers can reap the benefits often (every three to six months is a good goal). It’s also a great idea to acknowledge your most loyal customers by doing more than the general loyalty program offers. Take their picture and do a brief interview about why they love your brand; then write up an article with their picture to be displayed in your store.
Keep customers in the loop: Each time you give rewards, make sure the customer knows they’re being rewarded. Use your Digital Customer Billboard to keep customers informed of their point balance or reward options.
Develop a Partnership: Use purchasing data to determine what partnerships would most benefit your customers. Then form a strategic partnership with a company that compliments your business and its culture, and allow customers to exchange loyalty points there too!
Click here to learn more about implementing a loyalty program with:
Who.int explains that on a worldwide scale, the number of obese people has doubled since 1980. As of 2008, 1.4 billion adults were overweight, and 500 million of this population was obese. Annually, 2.8 million adults pass away as a result of being overweight. As any employer and employee can see, it is extremely important to make healthy eating choices. By choosing to eat healthy foods on a regular bases, employees will notice that this healthy lifestyle results in them not only feeling better, but also having better health, allowing them to be more comfortable and productive at work. While it is important to eat healthily outside of work, eating healthy at work is also extremely important, especially for people who work long hours each day.
Employers can take active measures in helping employees make healthy choices. Vending machines are a quick and easy way to provide drinks and snacks for employees without them having to bring their own snacks or leave the premises to purchase one. However, the convenience of vending machines does not come without a cost. Often, snacks and drinks found in these machines are filled with sugar or have a high fat content. Eating these foods on a regular basis will not contribute to the healthy lifestyle that employees want. Alternatively, employers can set up micro markets with easy-to-use self service kiosks that provide convenient, delicious, and healthy foods for their employees. Breakroom Provisions Company and ECRS have teamed to offer such a solution creating the most popular trend in workplace dining to date.
Check out how Breakroom Provisions and ECRS are transforming workplaces with the Micro Market with Vending Kiosk solution in the video below:
Original Article Here. Washington, November 14, 2012. "Gift Cards: The Season’s Hottest Gift, According To NRF"
Total Gift Card spending to reach $28.79 Billion
It’s the win-win gift for givers and receivers, and this holiday season, shoppers plan to spend more than ever on the most flexible and convenient of gifts: a gift card. With retailers providing increasingly creative ways for gift cards to be personalized and delivered, NRF’s 2012 holiday consumer spending survey conducted by BIGinsight shows that 81.1 percent of shoppers will purchase at least one gift card and will spend an average of $156.86 on gift cards, the highest amount in the survey’s 10-year history. Total spending on gift cards will reach $28.79 billion.
According to NRF’s first holiday survey, released in October, six in ten (59.8%) of those polled said they’d like to receive gift cards this year, up from 57.7 percent last year.
“Retailers are pulling out all the stops this year to make their gift cards personal, convenient and desirable,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Savvy shoppers know they can purchase a much appreciated gift card with ease either in store, online or through their mobile device, and give their loved ones the option to buy something they really want or need.”
Consumers will spend an average of $43.75 on each card they buy. As in previous years, men plan to spend significantly more on gift cards than women, shelling out an average of $172.98 versus women’s $141.66.
When it comes to which gift cards people will buy this holiday season, more people than ever say they will give their friends or family members a gift card for an online merchant (11.2%) and coffee shops (18.1%). Others will buy gift cards to department stores (39.1%), book stores (20.8%), grocery/gasoline stores (12.6%), and discount stores (14.2%). And 33.3% of shoppers will send friends and family for a night out with restaurant gift cards.
“Gift cards are the perfect practical and personal gift, allowing the recipient to treat themselves to something nice, or even something they need,” said BIGinsight Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow. “Whether it’s a mobile card that consumers can use whenever it’s most convenient or one that includes video or audio, gift cards can still be extremely personal.”
More than one in five (21.1%) gift givers say they’ll buy gift cards because they are easier and faster than traditional gifts. But practicality comes out as the most likely reason shoppers will buy gift cards this year as 44.7 percent say they’ll buy gift cards because they allow the recipient to select their own gift (down from the 46.4% of people who said the same last year).
Is your store prepared to provide this holiday season's highest demanded product? If not, contact us to discover our flexible & affordable gift card solutions.
Retailers find profits with paperless receipts
More stores and banks find it's profitable to offer shoppers electronic rather than print receipts, because they use the e-mail address for direct marketing. But do e-receipts pose consumer dangers?
- More stores and banks are offering to e-mail receipts
- They use e-mail addresses to market directly to shoppers
- E-receipts save paper, but promotional e-mails often follow
11:46AM EDT November 3. 2012 - The "paper or plastic" mantra at store checkouts is getting a digital twin: "paper or e-mail."
As smartphones proliferate, more stores and banks are offering to e-mail shoppers their receipts rather than giving them a printed copy. These electronic or digital receipts, touted as green for saving paper and convenient for saving time, enable retailers to market directly to customers.
"It's a growing trend," says John Talbott,of Indiana University's Center for Education and Research in Retailing. He says companies are rushing to mimic what Apple started in 2005, adding he expects "any retailer worth their salt will offer this."
This year, Macy's began offering paperless receipts at its stores nationwide and, beginning in August, Wells Fargo extended this option — begun at its ATMs in 2010 — to transactions inside bank branches. Citibank announced in September that it would also offer electronic receipts at its ATMs. Other companies with an e-receipt option include Nordstrom, Best Buy, Whole Foods, Kmart, Sears and Gap.
A third, or 35%, of retailers offer digital receipts, and half of them do so at all their stores, according to a survey of 3,900 retailers released earlier this year by marketing firm Epsilon.
"There's a tremendous amount of interest," says Epsilon President Andrew Frawley, noting digital receipts have proved to boost sales. He says while an e-mail address can be worth hundreds of dollars to a retailer, he advises corporate clients not to deluge customers with too many promotions because of "e-mail fatigue."
"Sustainability is a large part of our culture, so paperless receipts were a no-brainer for our shoppers," says Rick Kilmer of FLOR, a company that opened 12 U.S. stores this year to sell carpet squares made with recyclable materials. He says usage varies by city, but at least half of its customers nationwide choose e-receipts.
"It's really about convenience for the customers. ... No one likes the mess of all the paper," says Richele Messick of Wells Fargo. She says 12% of eligible ATM receipts are now electronic.
At Macy's, shoppers are also choosing e-receipts for 12% of transactions, says spokesman Jim Sluzewski, adding the digital option was part of a corporate effort to go paperless.
E-receipt users need to be vigilant about e-mail, says Katherine Hutt of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. "Scammers may pose as a bank or retailer having a problem with your account, and ask you to click on a link or provide personal information," she says. "That's a common tactic for identity theft, and we expect it will become more and more common as people shift to paperless receipts."
Frawley says digital receipts do not make consumers more vulnerable to identity theft, partly because they're easier to trace.
While that may be true, what's driving e-receipts is the bottom line, says C. Britt Beemer of America's Research Group, a consumer research and consulting firm. "Less paper means fewer people" to file records, he says. "It has everything to do with saving money."
Rose Holley, a shopper at Tysons Corner in McLean, Va., says she's old-fashioned and still wants printed receipts. "Because I'm bombarded with e-mail already, I don't want to overlook a receipt" or get more promotions, she says.
Talbott says his wallet often bulges with receipts, so he goes paperless when given the option. In the past, he says he'd collect receipts for Christmas purchases but, post holiday, couldn't find them. Now he has a designated computer spot for e-receipts.