Sainsbury's eyes 2016 for single customer view personalisation plan
Words by Natalie Mortimer and Seb Joseph
Sainsbury’s will start its bid to get a more detailed view of its customers next year that will see it launch more personalised services.
The supermarket's plan to have a single customer view will "step us on again in the way that we personalise interactions with our customers," according to chief executive Mike Coupe. Speaking at the analyst event for Sainsbury’s interim results, he gave a brief overview as to how the plan would get underway.
“We already think that we have a lot of customer knowledge and that we use that in a variety of different ways,” he continued. “But actually the next stage of the program is to have what we would call a single customer view of our customers where we pull together all of our data sets to enable us to anticipate and fulfil our customers’ needs on a more personalised basis.”
It's a complex undertaking, with the aim to track customers and their communications across every channel. Organisationally, this will also lead to better communication between teams that have traditionally been separate and foster a more integrated approach to customer service. Coupe and his team will be hoping to benefit from these aspects as the business continues to search for growth opportunities in a shrinking supermarket space. Discounters like Aldi and Lidl, along with a rise in people eating out, have slowed growth to between 0 and 1 per cent over the last year according to Coupe.
However there is headroom to grow, and along with its data dive Sainsbury's will pivot upcoming efforts around three areas; better in-store experience; clothing and merchandise and strategic partnerships through concessions and click and collect. “It’s about how do we utilise our space and make our superstores a more attractive place to shop in the future," said Coupe.
There are a number of trials already underway with six stores with various variations on the themes and more are planned in a bid to hone down the ideal format – “Simpler for our customers, more focused on our points of difference like counters” and “trialling technology with things like ‘Smart Shop’ and different kinds of checkout formations, clothing and non-food more generally and lastly working with concession partners,” he added.
Jessops, Timpson and Argos are three partnerships the supermarket wants to expand over the next 12 months.
Over the past year Sainsbury’s has focussed on pursuing a more low key marketing strategy amid the cost of competing in the heated supermarket price war and food deflation. Sales at the company fell 2 per cent to £13.6bn.
Sainsbury’s said much of the decline in profits was due to that price cutting strategy, which sapped £80m from pre-tax profits. However the supermarket added that investment in price has helped to drive transaction growth of almost three per cent and volume growth of one per cent, and added: “We will continue to remain competitive on price”.
“We are making good progress against the strategy we outlined last November,” said Coupe. “We are delivering volume and transaction growth as customers value our quality improvements and our clearer, simpler message of lower regular prices.”
The business has made a number of efforts to react to changes in consumer behaviour and last month introduced a new store format across six stores underpinned by mobile technology, which is set to play a big role in helping it stand out from the discounters.
Sainsbury’s investment in convenience stores showed promising results over the period: it opened 37 in the half and sales grew by nearly 11 per cent, despite these stores selling a higher proportion of categories that are experiencing food deflation. It attributed this growth to consumers topping up their shopping locally and more often.
Online things looked rosier. Groceries grew by seven per cent and orders grew by nearly 14 per cent. Click & Collect also performed well. At the end of the half it had 52 grocery Click & Collect sites and Sainsbury’s said it is on track to have 100 sites by the end of 2015.