NEW YORK — As it looks to improve in-store efficiencies and omnichannel capabilities, The Fresh Market provided a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how it researches, evaluates and rolls out technology partnerships.
Kevin Miller, chief marketing officer of The Fresh Market, said during a Sunday session at the National Retail Federation’s conference that specialty grocer focuses on three strategic frameworks when evaluating potential partnerships:
- Will it boost the reach to our core customers as well as new ones?
- Will it increase our relevance to our target audience?
- Will it increase our revenue?
“If you do one of those, that’s good. If you do [two of those], that’s really good. If you do all three, that’s fantastic,” Miller said.
During the session, which focused on the specialty grocer’s work with live commerce platform Firework, Miller said The Fresh Market worked with Deloitte to do a survey into the “top” e-commerce and loyalty programs across all types of businesses — not just grocers and retailers — around the world.
The Fresh Market realized that the super-user for e-commerce — men and women ages 30 to 44 who are more likely to switch between brands — is different from its existing shoppers. Without catering to online shoppers, The Fresh Market was missing out on a $20 billion segment, Miller said. Those findings drove the specialty grocer, which has 159 stores across 22 states, to seek out a partner who could boost its e-commerce visuals.
“When we looked at Firework, we saw that the technology had the potential to do all three of those [key variables],” Miller said.
That partnership, which started in late 2021 and has expanded over the years from short videos to include live streaming on The Fresh Market’s own online properties such as its website and email, has paid off: “Firework videos performed better than any other media that we were doing at The Fresh Market,” Miller said.
A Thanksgiving livestream event on the grocer’s website, for example, had 7,140 livestream viewers and more than 743,600 on-demand viewers, according to a presentation during the session. That event had an 18.7% higher engagement rate and a 6.7 times higher product click-through rate in comparison to industry averages for both metrics.
In 2022, The Fresh Market had 600 Firework-powered videos, Miller said. The videos, which can serve as entertainment, provide customer education and offer a simplified, faster shopping experience, have served a variety of purposes, from showcasing new products to promotions, Miller said, noting that the grocer also wanted to leverage the videos to create an emotional connection with its customers.
Along with Firework, the specialty grocer has rolled out a number of tech partnerships, recently announcing expanded tie-ups with Invafresh, which runs a platform to automate demand forecasting, and voice communication technology provider VoCoVo.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Kevin Miller's title. Miller is chief marketing officer for The Fresh Market.