Grocery stores missing huge opportunity for stronger customer relationships

Every time I visit the local Kroger grocery store, I swipe a card that looks like this to save a few pennies on various items in the store. In return, the store has a record of everything I purchase every time I visit the grocery store. And yet, it seems like they do nothing with this valuable information, although there are several things that they could do that I would actually appreciate and that would help Kroger build a stronger relationship with its shoppers.

I would be fine with Kroger sending me targeted coupons based on what they’ve learned about my preferences and other things that they think I might find of interest.

Even more importantly, many stores across the nation are pulling bagged spinach – some are pulling all spinach – from their shelves after one person died and dozens got sick from spinach tainted with e-coli bacteria. Thankfully, this subject has been well-covered by mass media. Surprisingly, although this issue is making the front pages of news outlets, Kroger doesn’t have a thing about it on the corporate Web homepage. And they don’t offer a search function for customers to look for such information. I suspect they aren’t alone among grocery chains. This omission just implies that the company isn’t interested in educating its customers about food recalls or health issues.

We have two big packages of spinach in our refrigerator right now that we plan to throw out, because we’ve seen the media coverage. But, what if Kroger were able to pull up a list of all the customers who had purchased spinach in the last two weeks and sent them an e-mail or letter alerting them to the dangers and recommending that they discard any bagged spinach? I can tell you that I would sincerely appreciate the company looking out for my health and using my personal information for something useful.

C’mon grocery stores and produce industries. You can do better. Start building one-to-one relationships and don’t ask for my information if it doesn’t help me in a specific and relevant way. I promise, I’ll return the favor tenfold with brand loyalty and affection.