Convenience at Valora is not restricted to the selection available, but is also part of the entire shopping experience. That is why Valora works on modern digital solutions related to the following strategic thrusts: Autonomous Stores, Loyalty & Payment, E-Commerce & Delivery and Process Improvement. The aim is to make the customers’ purchases more practical, quicker and more flexible.
The most promising consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to be the enormous increase in online grocery shopping and other virtual activities. Consumers have increasingly taken advantage of digital and low-contact opportunities during the crisis: They have groceries, snacks and meals delivered to their homes and use the self-checkout service in the shop. Many of them expect to maintain these habits after the crisis (McKinsey, 2020).
Valora aims to monitor, develop and test the opportunities offered by digitalisation. Valora also wants to anticipate trends and actively shape the digital transformation with innovative concepts.
In April 2019, Valora became the first company in Switzerland to launch an autonomous cashier-free convenience store in the form of avec box. Valora is convinced that such self-checkout solutions have a future because they meet customers’ need for autonomy when shopping. Access, shopping and payment are made using the avec 24/7 app. Valora currently operates an avec box at three locations in Switzerland. At one of them, it is a smaller wooden version to test locations that do not have any other convenience offering. Valora has developed further forms of self-checkout based on the avec 24/7 app. In 2021, for example, avec 24/7 stores that function as a hybrid model were opened at four locations in Switzerland. While staff are still present at the store during the day from Monday to Saturday, the shop works autonomously at night and on Sunday via the avec 24/7 app. There is great potential for the further rollout here, as existing avec stores in particular only need to be equipped with the corresponding technology to be integrated into the program. The team is now working on the scaling of these solutions. Valora also intends to promote the autonomous store initiative in the form of smaller formats, such as the avec mini smart fridge.
These solutions, which are based on the avec 24/7 app, not only bring more convenience to the customer experience, but also give Valora the opportunity to expand the availability of its bricks-and-mortar foodvenience offering beyond the usual opening hours, similar to online retail. Against this background, around 300 k kiosk vending machines will also be placed in Switzerland by the end of 2022.
Loyalty & Payment
Loyalty should be rewarded at Valora. That is why Valora is systematically continuing its customer loyalty programs and is transferring the traditional physical customer cards of its formats to the smartphone. Thanks to the apps, customers benefit from personalised offers in combination with coupons, collection points and other reward systems. The digital brand experience is rounded off by a product overview, store finder and pre-order functions. Increasing personalisation also benefits suppliers and industry partners: They can focus attention on their products and reduce the wastage of their marketing activities. Following the already established apps from k kiosk and Caffè Spettacolo, a loyalty program for customers of Brezelkönig was added in June 2021. Data privacy is very important to Valora. All personal data are only processed in accordance with data protection requirements.
E-Commerce & Delivery
The pandemic caused a veritable boom in delivery services in particular, as people cooked at home more often or had their ready-to-serve meals delivered to their homes. Valora introduced the pilot version of the delivery service www.avecnow.ch in the middle of the first lockdown. It now takes just 30 minutes to service its customers by e-bike in the city of Zurich. The convenience range is geared towards smaller in-between purchases, i.e. things that you suddenly need or feel like having.
The k kiosk online tobacco shop launched in April 2021 also represents an additional sales channel and a complementary promotional platform. This not only underscores Valora’s expertise in tobacco, but also takes account of the growing popularity of online tobacco purchases. The selection includes more than 1 000 products such as cigarettes, cigars and alternative nicotine products, which reach customers by post the day after they place their order.
Profitability is essential for Valora to ensure the sustainability of its business model. Processes are increasingly being improved through automation, retail analytics and efficient workflows. The Process Improvement team plays a key role, providing support across countries, topics and formats. Important progress has been made here with regard to the cockpit for written-off goods, the recruitment process, personnel planning, goods delivery at night and voice-activated business intelligence.