How Midwest Grocer Schnucks uses data to improve everyday life in the diverse communities it serves
The corner grocery store has long been at the heart of the American experience. For generations, grocery stores and supermarkets have been central to our daily lives. They are institutions and serve as gathering places within our communities. Grocery shopping is an inseparable part of family life in America.
Schnuck Markets, Inc. is a supermarket chain based in the heartland of the United States, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. The company was founded in 1939 and currently operates 112 grocery stores in four US heartland states: Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. Schnucks is one of the largest privately held supermarket chains in the United States, recording annual revenues in excess of $3 billion.
Tom Henry is Chief Data Officer and Deputy Chief Information Officer for Schnucks, a position he has held since 2019. Henry is also a member of the company’s core leadership group known as the Strategy Team. Prior to Schnucks, he previously served as chief data officer at Express Scripts, the $100 billion pharmaceutical benefits company acquired by Cigna in 2018.
Henry exhibits a visionary perspective in his data and technology leadership capabilities with Schnucks – a perspective he believes aligns with the company’s goal of “powering people’s lives,” through the provision of food and grocery services. One of the company’s core values is to “try new things”. Schnucks’ leadership team lives this value in part by giving its technology teammates the space and resources to innovate and create industry-leading robotics, digital and data solutions. As part of his tenure, Henry sees a wonderful opportunity to use data wisely and responsibly to make informed decisions that result in services that benefit customers, employees and communities served by Schnucks.
Henry believes becoming data-driven starts with strong communication. Two of its guiding principles are to “focus on what matters to your business” and to “communicate at the level of your audience”. Henry believes that to achieve business results that improve the customer experience, organizations must develop and execute a plan that answers key questions. For example, how do you leverage data to achieve business goals and improve the shopping experience for customers? This requires an understanding and articulation of the business needs and imperatives of each department of the company.
Enabling data for any business starts with creating a data and analytics strategy for the organization. Henry says the first step is to work with the executive sponsor and business partners to establish reasonable expectations for the data and analytics organization and its desired purpose. This should result in a well-developed and articulated vision and mission with specific goals and objectives to be achieved within a specific timeframe.
The second step is to create an honest assessment of the current state of the organization. Start by taking an inventory of the company’s data assets. Document the state of the enterprise information management base (which includes the physical data capabilities of the enterprise, including data architecture, data exchange, metadata, intelligence tools economics and analysis, and its Big Data infrastructure). Catalog data governance and analytics operations (procedural capabilities, including information security, data quality management, information lifecycle management, data use policies and procedures, and model of the data team).
Finally, create a skills profile of data professional talent within the company. The third and final step in the strategy development process is to develop a roadmap that takes the organization from its current state to its desired future state. This should propel the organization up the business analytics maturity curve. From basic descriptive and predictive analytics to advanced prescriptive and AI-based (cognitive) analytical capabilities.
At the heart of the Schnucks shopping experience is building an omnichannel customer experience that ensures consistent customer treatment and engagement, no matter how and where the customer is buying or engaging with the brand. In short, the mandate is to provide a consistent customer experience that allows every customer to expect seamless, reliable, and easy interaction. Customer interaction channels include physical supermarkets, call centers, an online marketplace, mobile apps, email, social media, and the company’s website.
Schnucks’ loyalty program, Schnucks Rewards, has over 1.8 million members and is central to the company’s strategy to deliver a rich, omnichannel customer experience. The data available from customer shopping experiences offers many opportunities to build unique buying journeys and to deliver consistent and personalized customer experiences across all touchpoints. Additionally, Schnucks can then offer customers new products and experiences with a “community of like-minded partners.” The result of the omnichannel experience is to “deliver a lifetime customer relationship comprised of remarkable experiences”. Schnucks calls this “the seamless customer experience.”
Customization is essential to satisfy the needs of each unique and individual customer. Artificial intelligence capabilities are used to help improve the shopping experience for customers by providing “best next action” recommendations for the shopper. Personalized shopping coupons can be sent to customers based on their needs and shopping habits.
Knowing each customer allows Schnucks to tailor the shopping experience in a way that meets their needs and results in an improved shopping experience and customer relationship over many years. Customer benefits include the ability to earn rewards, organize your shopping list, cut and save with personalized coupons, order ahead to skip the line, browse recipes and manage health and well-being. For every customer, this translates into ease of purchase, saving time, saving money and guaranteeing value.
As Tom Henry notes, measurement is critical to success and improvement. Examples of results from Schnucks’ personalization efforts include incremental sales improvements resulting from a soft drink personalization campaign, yielding five times the return on investment, and again for a breakfast cereal personalization campaign, producing five times the return on investment. These are results that demonstrate measurable results of data initiatives.
Social responsibility is central to the company’s corporate mission. Schnucks has built a reputation for being a responsible partner in every community it serves, which includes a diverse set of communities ranging from highly urban to rural. From the St. Louis metro area to northern Illinois to southern Indiana, Schnucks takes a keen and personal interest in understanding the needs of the communities it serves, striving to be a positive force, where a grocery store often serves as a hub for the community. social interaction and stability.
Schnucks’ community pillars are centered around addressing food insecurity, developing the workforce, and implementing a strong diversity, equity and inclusion plan, Unity Is Power. Additionally, the company launched an innovative program called Donate Your Rewards, where the omnichannel customer experience extends by incorporating direct community impact. The program allows customers to donate their Schnucks Rewards points to a number of non-profit organizations based on the geographic area near their selected “home store” as listed in the Schnucks Rewards app.
In addition to its close ties to the local communities it serves, Schnucks also works with local universities. For several years, Schnucks has worked closely with Washington University in St. Louis and its Center for Analytics and Business Intelligence (CABI) to help develop and support a data and analytics program for their research programs. master’s and MBA. Craig Schnuck, Schnucks Chairman Emeritus, currently serves on the University of Washington Board of Trustees as Past President. The company also has a strong and active relationship with the University of Missouri.
Being data-driven is an ambition many companies are striving to achieve. Schnucks is a living example of using data every day to better serve its teammates, customers, and the communities in which it operates, and in doing so, nurturing people’s daily lives in the process.