The idea of rewarding customers for repeat visits to a shop has been around almost as long as shopping itself. Technology has shaped loyalty programs into their current form, with lower prices as the shopper incentive and reams of data as the reward for retailers.
Some major chains have announced in the past few years that they were removing self-checkout in an attempt to connect better with customers. This was a significant disinvestment: A self-checkout register costs more than six times as much as a regular, manned one.
Less space on the shelf means more hard choices for category managers. As a result, many are turning to shopper insights more commonly associated with shopper marketing programs to determine product placement and facings.
Bento boxes, hot noodles and more ready-to-eat items arrive morning, noon and night. More than one-third of all meals in Japan are prepared meals sold at retail, with a following among both young singles and growing ranks of less-mobile seniors.