Kiosks: End of the (Deli) Line

Read the Heinen's case study here 

Kiosks: End the (Deli) LineA family-owned grocery store chain is helping to enhance its reputation for exceptional service through the use of deli self-order kiosks. By Richard Slawsky - Contributing writer KioskMarketplace.com

The players
NEXTEP SYSTEMS, based in Troy, Mich., provides a complete suite of integrated foodservice technology solutions for grocery stores, restaurants, casinos, airports and other high-volume foodservice venues. From self-order to point of sale to digital signage, NEXTEP provides and supports the complete integrated foodservice platform.

Heinens Inc. is a family-owned and operated regional supermarket chain in northeast Ohio. Heinen’s was founded in 1929 in Cleveland, Ohio, when Joseph Heinen opened a small meat market. Today, grandsons Tom and Jeff Heinen are following in Joseph’s footsteps. Neighborhood Heinen’s Fine Food stores now serve several communities throughout northeast Ohio. Today, the company has grown to 17 locations, with plans to expand beyond Ohio in the second half of 2012 with a new location in Chicago.

The challenge
Joseph Heinen always had a vision of growing beyond a small meat market, and in 1933 he opened Cleveland’s first supermarket. He built his business on two basic concepts: offering the freshest, highest quality products possible and creating an experience where customers want to come back. Although the company continues to grow, competition in the grocery industry has never been greater. The industry faces challenges from big-box retailers to small dollar-store discounters.

As is the case with many supermarkets, the deli counter has typically been a point of congestion for Heinen’s. Customers would place their order with a counter attendant, and then wait for up to 20 minutes or more while that order is being prepared. Long lines at the deli results in customer dissatisfaction, which ultimately leads to lost sales. The company needed a way to make it convenient for customers to patronize its deli counter rather than opt for the less fresh, prepackaged products offered by dollar discount stores and big box retailers.

So when Heinen’s began looking at ways to improve its deli operation, the decision wasn’t based on trying to be a technology innovator. Instead, it was based on finding a way to provide better service to the customer. However, a technology solution allowed them to do just that.

The solution
To help meet that challenge, the company deployed the Deli 1-2-3 Solution from NEXTEP SYSTEMS.
The Deli 1-2-3 product suite includes touch screen ordering kiosks, employee ordering stations, an Order Management System and Order Status Monitors. The solution remembers previous orders and suggests new and complementary items, increasing sales while reducing congestion at the deli counter.

In Heinen’s experience, most customers who make a purchase from the store’s deli department know what they want before they enter the store. The NEXTEP solution allows the customer to place their deli order on a touchscreen kiosk located at the front of the store when they first enter. The order is routed to the deli via the Order Management System, and customers are free to take care of the rest of their shopping while it is being prepared. They can elect to be notified via text when their order is ready, or watch Order Status Monitors located throughout the store.

The company originally deployed deli self-order kiosks in two locations in mid-2011. The installation itself was a two-day process, with the first day spent installing the kiosks and training employees and the second spent with additional training and final testing before going live.

“We asked one of our associates, someone who is very outgoing and personable, to introduce the kiosks to customers,” said Carl Lindeman, Heinen’s retail technology manager. “As a customer came in the store, she would greet them and ask them if they were going to be visiting the deli. If they were, she showed them the new option we had.”

One of the attributes of the Deli 1-2-3 Solution is that it allows for labor to be used in activities other than standing at the counter and taking orders. The system frees employees to spend more time relating to customers; answering questions and providing an enhanced, more individual experience.

To ease the concerns of employees who might be worried that the kiosks might replace them, the company sat down with deli staff and assured them that no one would lose hours as a result of the deployment. On the contrary, the company hoped that increased deli sales would allow them to expand staff.

The results
Those kiosks went over so well that within four months, the company elected to roll them out into seven additional locations: those with the highest volume deli departments.

“The kiosks are very inviting and easy to use,” said Tony Tamburro, Heinen’s deli director. “From an efficiency standpoint, they have helped the operation tremendously.”

Although most of the kiosks have just been in place for a few months, early indications are that they have helped spur sales increases in the deli of 5 percent or more.

“The customers have received them very well,” Lindeman said. “To be honest, I haven’t heard one negative comment about them.”
To further expand the functionality of deli self-order kiosks, Heinen’s is looking at making use of the solution’s ability to accept orders both online and via a smartphone application.

About the sponsor: NEXTEP SYSTEMS, based in Troy, Mich., provides a complete suite of integrated foodservice technology solutions for grocery stores, restaurants, casinos, airports and other high-volume foodservice venues. From self-order to point of sale to digital signage, NEXTEP provides and supports the complete integrated foodservice platform.

 

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