Grocery Shopping: Now with a dash of Data and AI3 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
When Kirk Ball started predicting the future of retail operations at Giant Eagle, Inc, USA, he ended up creating it. Enabling digital, AI capabilities and helping organizations grow connections with customers and amongst team members, about taking goods and services to the market in sophisticated, personalized ways excites him like nothing else. EVP & CIO at the 400-store, 32,000-employee retail chain, Kirk shares his experience and views on the pre- and post-pandemic changes to grocery retailing, the evolving impact of AI on the business and his three tips for tech and business leaders looking to grow their markets. Excerpted from the May 2023 podcast with Ashwini Asokan, Co-founder and CEO, Vue.ai.
The Covid-19 pandemic uncovered the pivotal utility of the grocery store in the fabric of a community. Social distancing norms necessitated an increase in both the number of stores that offered online buying capabilities along with Buy Online Pickup In Store (BOPIS) services and the number of pickup slots for online orders at the stores.
While the pandemic provided the impetus to double down on these efforts, the rising reliance and influence of technology in retail operations (capturing and analyzing data, personalization etc) will only accelerate going forward. Combine the short-loop data that informs the here and now of purchasing patterns with long-loop analogs that provide historical purchase perspectives: you get deep insights into the customer psyche at both the macro and individualized levels, contends Kirk. As factors affecting customer’s retail habits change dynamically, it’s data and algorithms that provide clarity. Not only on the status quo but also on how things would unfold in the near future. The volume and velocity of new products, price changes, promotion optimization, deprecation etc demand instantaneous GTM strategies that are well facilitated by AI, he added.
As the pandemic receded, many customers have professed a persistent preference for the convenience of the online purchase mode.
Amongst Giant Eagle, Inc’s on-hand tech priorities are the gathering of unique sets of data, enhancing analytics to gain prescient insights and providing robust personalization channels. Kirk Ball’s mantra for business success revolves around caring for the stakeholders – employees and business partners – and a deliberate intent in choosing the right external partners to implement.
The complete podcast is available at https://vue.ai/resources/podcasts/cio-diaries-with-kirk-ball/