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Checking out innovation first hand:  rewards app, prepared meals, premium brands

Checking out innovation first hand: rewards app, prepared meals, premium brands

Chicago-based 'Xpert' Bill Bishop recommends three stores to check out while in Chicago for FMI Connect. See more Chicago retailer recommendations. 

A shopper uses the Fetch Rewards app at Treasure Island in Chicago
A shopper uses the Fetch Rewards app at Treasure Island in Chicago.

There’s plenty to see in the Chicago food retail scene. Steal some time to check out these three innovations while you’re in town for FMI. I specifically picked this list because they all have “take home” potential.

Making shopping more fun & rewarding — Stop in the Treasure Island at 75 W. Elm St., Chicago. The store, modeled after European old-world markets, goes high-tech as it lets customers use the Fetch Rewards app to scan each item they want to buy while cruising the aisles and circumnavigating the perimeter — all while earning points that can be used to lower the cost of the products they are buying. The app also delivers targeted coupons and speeds up checkout.

Customers really enjoy the points — “they have helped to gameify grocery shopping,” says Andrea Koules, Sr. Account Executive with Fetch Rewards — and shoppers can earn them in many ways. Every user starts with 3,000 points; ($3 worth). They can get another 1,500 points by interacting with an employee the first time they use the app. Manufacturers fund serious bonus points for taking a survey on the system. Buy a particular plain yogurt, for example, and you’d earn 1,000 points for completing a short survey on how you’re planning to use the product. The survey capability seems to be a hit with everyone.

My Fit Foods focuses on healthy prepared foods
My Fit Foods focuses on healthy prepared foods.

Fetch Rewards enables stores like Treasure Island to offer a pretty cool app that functions as an add-on rewards program. Incentive points and coupons earned from using it encourage people to concentrate more of their spending in the store. That turns out to be significantly more: Shoppers who used the app spent 10%-25% more across all of fetch stores!

Helping customers eat healthier — My Fit Foods, a Texas-based chain, sells healthy prepared foods for all eating occasions, from the breakfast meal to the evening snack. Located at 157 W. North Ave., shoppers can walk in and buy healthy entrées and snacks from the available assortment, or order in advance to get exactly what they’re looking for and pick up the order in 72 hours. They even offer a free customer meal planning service, often in 21-day packages, that come with compelling promise of “You don’t have to decide what to eat . . . shop for . . . cook or clean up, simply get fit while our chefs and nutritional coaches take care of the rest." My Fit Foods meets the needs of smaller households and shoppers who want to eat healthy, but aren’t going to prepare a home cooked meal because of time, skill or know-how.

A Trader Joes and an Aldi store are co-located in the same Chicago building
A Trader Joes and an Aldi store are co-located in the same Chicago building.

Encouraging shoppers to trade up — How do you build a program that encourages customers to buy more without a heavy investment in profit margin? Swing by Aldi for a great example. The store at 1870 N. Clybourn Ave. (located in the same building with a Trader Joe’s — something you don’t see everyday) offers a line of premium products that complement many of their standard product offerings. Customers get to treat themselves and their families to something special, even though they’re operating on a budget. The Specialty Select brand includes a range of high-quality, often imported, items from gourmet vinaigrette to cookies to blue cheese to jarred olives. The presence of a premium brand invites customers to trade up and splurge occasionally. It’s an effective way to do two things at once: project a strong low-price image and encourage customers to buy products with higher average prices and more pennies of profit. Enjoy your time in Chicago and let us know what catches your eye while you’re out and about. We also have a video that will give you some additional information on ideas you can take home with you. If you would like more insight into any of these experiences, please feel free to reach out.


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