Schoolgirl holding plate of lunch in school cafeteria

Happy National School Lunch Week!

Established by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, National School Lunch Week (NSLW) is a week-long celebration of the school lunch program. Every October, schools across the country participate in National School Lunch Week celebrations, reminding students, parents and communities that a healthy school lunch helps students learn, grow and achieve. Teachers and students celebrate in their cafeterias every year with decorations, costumes (dressing up like fruits and veggies!), special menus (international flavors) and events (chili cook-offs, bake sales and more).

But it’s become far more than a celebration and has evolved into community awareness and education.  From students making healthier choices to improved academic performance, nutrition education can benefit the whole school and family communities. For example, students bring home food samples and printed menus to share with family members, providing additional visibility and transparency into their school lunches and also encourages parents to make equally healthy meals at home.

That’s why the NSLW is so important. This year’s theme, “Show Your Spirit,” is about getting excited about the benefits of consuming wholesome, healthy school lunches—fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains and dairy products such as milk and yogurt.

Here’s what just a few of our nation’s schools are doing this week:

Knoxville, Iowa:

Schools in Knoxville, Iowa serve a wide variety of fruits & veggies, available at Salad and  Garden Bars, & fresh fruit carts open at every school during lunch. In addition, a grab & go lunch option named the Panther Power Pack is available daily for students to purchase at Knoxville High School. Nearly all of the baked goods served are made from scratch & baked fresh daily!

San Angelo, TX:

Schools in San Antonio, Texas recognize National School Lunch Week with the theme  “Vote for a Winning Lunch.” Student-made posters and weekly menus adorn the cafeteria to promote voting and healthy nutrition throughout the week.Parents, students and school officials all cast  ballots for their favorite school lunch and show that healthier choices are critical to feeling good and succeeding in school

Marietta, GA:

Cafeterias in Marietta City Schools will roll out new menus featuring Greek, Jamaican and Thai-inspired cuisine. With hopes that the healthy-eating habits continue at home, Harrison said the district uses name-brand food products so students can recognize the healthy food in the grocery store.

Want to learn more about how 1WorldSync helps with school lunches, nutrition and transparency?  Read “Back to School Blues: The Chore of the Daily Lunch” and “This Year’s Back to School Checklist Includes Transparency & Traceability.”

Teenage girls laughing and walking on a line

The Evolution of Online Shopping Through a Millennial’s Eyes

It’s no secret that over the last decade, online shopping has evolved in ways we (millennials) could not have imagined. Growing up in what may now be classified as the “Digital Age”, technology has allowed e-commerce to virtually customize the way we shop.

We millennials have not only conformed the way all generations have learned to shop online but we’ve also forced industries to adapt this new transformation. For example, if I wanted to go to the mall and buy makeup I would have to physically try it on, see if I like it, and then buy it at the store. Now that millennials have eclipsed all generations from the way we communicate, access information, and live our lives on a daily basis, cosmetic etailers and app providers have even gone as far as offering facial scanning programs; allowing consumers to fill out a form based on their skin type and face shape. They even offer certain brands and products based on the user’s characteristics. If this is the new face of online shopping, it makes me wonder…what did online shopping look like before the connected consumer era? So, I decided to investigate.

E-commerce sites continue to improve in user experience and lifestyle. Current e-commerce statistics state that 40 percent of worldwide internet users have bought products or goods online via desktop, mobile, tablet or other online devices (Statista, 2016). This amounts to more than 1 billion online buyers and is projected to continuously grow. Let’s be honest… “ain’t nobody got time to go to the mall and shop!” It becomes time consuming and you are never guaranteed to find exactly what you are looking for. Been there, done that. What did people do before online shopping existed?!

Through a Millennial’s eyes, here are “5 ways millennials have helped change the way we shop”.

1. “We Know Everything” – Shoppers know as much as Salespeople
I can’t tell you how many times I hear… “Millennials think they know everything”. Well, maybe we do!

Then: When going to the mall to shop was the only option people had, they relied heavily on the salesperson’s expertise to advise them on what they needed to buy and all the features of items offered in that store.

Now: With the magical power of Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other wonderful search engines, we have the option of doing our own research and have become “smart shoppers”.  We have the potential and capability to know when we are getting a good deal. After all, every moment in a consumer’s purchasing decision journey matters.

2. Retailers now know everything too!

Then: Apparently, the introduction of retail began with retailers and shopkeepers getting to know their customer’s preferences and needs based on face-to-face interactions. Sounds a bit horse and buggy to me.

Now: In the world of connected commerce, a phone, tablet, or computer can do just that.  E-commerce sites, such as Amazon, integrate customization features that recommend products based on your interests and your online behavior paths. Ultimately, these features allow companies to appropriately offer suggestions and get to know their customers more personally based on their interests.

3. Mobile devices drive foot traffic to stores

Then: Finding the right stores with the right products you needed was either based on familiarity or luck.

Now: It’s much easier nowadays to find a product in a specific store you’re near, right at the touch of your fingertips. Most retail websites such as Target, have features that allow customers to find a store near them that carries the product they’re looking for, pay for it online, and pick it up in-store. Mobile makes it much quicker and more efficient to find exactly what you need while also providing store location information and a product finder all in one.

4. Nothing wrong with a little bit of gossip!

Then: Word of mouth influenced purchase decisions and most retailers relied upon these in order to boost sales. Personal references help, but the retailer could not directly influence.

Now: Word of mouth is a very influential factor. We share our thoughts, opinions and reviews on products within our YouTube, Instagram and Twitter community. This has affected the beauty industry tremendously with the boom of famous beauty gurus uploading “Hit or Miss” tutorials, giving their honest opinions on products and whether they are worth the price or quality. This could affect the reputations of cosmetic brands, if they have bad reviews. It can also provide them with major opportunities to position their brand towards specific targets. I’ve seen products literally fly off the shelves because of these YouTuber’s influence and the “must-have” opinions they give.

5. Products jump off the screen at you!

Then: Paper advertisements and the internet gave an image of what the product looked like but nothing can replace the actual physical feeling of a product and seeing it right in front of you.

Now: Personally, I believe there is still truth to this. Even today, a lot of sites have really stepped up their game when it comes to displaying what a product looks like before you purchase it. Products now have live 360° videos and imagery and zoom capabilities giving the shopper a better sense of what the item really looks like (Think with Google, 2014).

As you can see, we’ve come a long way since the introduction of the internet. As a result, retailers have undergone a digital transformation to meet the needs of today’s online shopping. Living through the differences in what it “used to be” compared to “now” makes us think about how much we rely on technology when it comes to shopping. E-commerce has revolutionized the way we buy and provides shoppers with a more convenient and personalized way to access what they need. At the end of the day, great shopping sites exist because of advances in technology and companies who have conformed to provide accessible, reliable product information to consumers as and when they need it.

Woman checking shopping list on her smartphone at supermarket

How The Consumer Experience is Driven by “I Need to Know Moments”

According to Forrester’s 2015 Customer Experience Index (Forrester, 2015), 86% of companies want to excel at customer experience. But only 27% of brands even qualify as “good” in the eyes of their customers.

Today’s omni-channel consumers expect brands to address their needs in real-time and turn to their mobile devices when contemplating making a purchase.  A wealth of information is a mere tap away via our smartphone apps and a poor experience can be easily replaced with another viable option a click away.

These intent-driven moments of decision-making and preference-shaping have fractured the consumer journey into hundreds of real-time “I want to buy” micro-moments of decision-making and preference-shaping, as termed by Google.  

Today’s Shoppers Demand Information Right Here & Right Now

Welcome to the new world order of 24/7 great expectations shaped by customers who expect to be able to make more intent driven decisions with a seamless experience.

Today’s shoppers demand product information in real-time. Whether it be trusted and authentic reviews, product photos or nutritional information, as consumers we’ve come to want exceptional experiences exactly when and where we want it.  And nowhere is it more apparent than in retail.  

  • Fully stocked shelves bursting with variety? Done.  
  • Loyalty program? Goes without saying.  
  • Free overnight delivery? Naturally.  

But these great expectations go beyond the “what” and are firmly rooted in the “how.”  And that’s all about “Omni-channel” being touted as shopping’s new norm.  The bar has been raised and the expectations are clear.  Consumers expect that retailers will/better deliver a seamless and consistent experience across channels and devices.

Omni-Channel Shoppers: An Emerging Reality for Retailers

For the retailer, omni-channel requires overlapping to ensure that the customer remains delighted and perceives a seamless experience from end to end. Helping a customer through their entire buyer’s journey means knocking down internal barriers to hold their hand at each stage, making sure that each hand-off is perfect. (BigCommerce, 2016)

An Aberdeen survey (Internet Retailer, 2013) cites that companies with omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain on average 89% of their customers, compared to customer retention rate of 33% for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement.

Fortunately, many online retailers and suppliers have already enabled omni-channel functions and are clearly seeing the benefits. They’ve made the required investments in understanding their consumers’ needs and then tailored the rest of the organization to meeting those needs.

It’s An Omni-Channel World After All: Engaging Consumers and Connecting Trusted Product Data Everywhere

By enabling products to stand out in a crowded omni-channel world, 1WorldSync delivers rich and trusted product content, including digital assets and insights – to engage customers and consumers – regardless of location or medium. 1WorldSync’s Omni-Channel solutions helps leading retailers capitalize on product information to drive conversion.  

Walmart is one such retailer that views the omni-channel shopper as its sweet spot. At its annual shareholders meeting last year, Walmart’s CEO, Doug McMillon addressed the importance of an omni-channel strategy (Marketing Land, 2015). He said that Walmart will keep making technology top of mind when it comes to internal and external customer facing initiatives.

“I want us to stop talking about digital and physical retail as if they’re two separate things. The customer doesn’t think of it that way, and we can’t either. One customer can shop with us in so many different ways – in stores, on their phones, at homes, a pick-up point. But they just think they’re shopping at Walmart, at ASDA, at Sam’s Club.”

Exceeding Expectations and Creating Stellar Experiences For Omni-Channel Customers

Conversely, there are countless other retailers that are lagging behind – whether they’ve taken a few wrong turns or are just late to the game.  The consumer’s great expectation remains regardless.

A survey by Synthetix (Synthetix, 2016) indicates that 9 out of 10 customers expect to receive a consistent experience over multiple channels. They expect a valuable, memorable and story-worthy experience.  They expect detailed and consistent product content to aid in decision making.  They expect to see this same level of detail when shopping for another product in another department. They expect a single view with a wide array of efficient and convenient options. And they expect to shop at any time from any number of devices – such as their PCs, smartphones and tablets.

Clearly, given the consumer’s mighty requirements for an integrated omni-channel shopping experience, retailers and suppliers must move quickly to deliver on those soaring expectations or risk the curse of any industry irrelevance.

 

  1. “The US Customer Experience Index, Q1 2015 – Forrester.” 6 Oct. 2016<https://www.forrester.com/report/The+US+Customer+Experience+Index+Q1+2015/-/E-RES117482>
  2.  “Omni-Channel Retail and The Future of Commerce – BigCommerce.” 2016. 6 Oct. 2016 <https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/omni-channel-retail/>
  3. “Why an omnichannel strategy matters – Internet Retailer.” 2013. 6 Oct. 2016 <https://www.internetretailer.com/2013/12/31/why-omnichannel-strategy-matters>
  4. “Walmart positioned to drive omni-channel marketing in global retailing.” 2015. 5 Aug. 2015 <http://marketingland.com/walmart-positioned-drive-omni-channel-marketing-global-retailing-137007>
  5. “The rise of demand for multi-channel online customer service – Synthetix.” 2016. 6 Oct. 2016 <http://www.synthetix.com/website_documents/Synthetix_Online_Customer_Service_Survey_2012.pdf>
vegetable salad in glass jar, white background

The OG of Product Information Transparency: The Mason Jar

A picture is worth a thousand words. But who needs words anymore, likes and shares are where it’s at! Take for instance, a picture of an organic, plant-based lunch in a mason jar. It’s hard to beat the layered combo of seasonal veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, all topped off with a vibrantly colored dressing.

Mason jars stepped back into the spotlight a few years ago and show no signs of overstaying their welcome. Once reserved exclusively for pickles and country-fair jams, they have become ubiquitous props of the social media set. Practically overnight, they’ve become the Instagrammer and blogger’s favorite mode of transport for every meal worth photographing.

Breakfast parfaits, gluten-free soups, cold-pressed juices and oven-baked casseroles have transformed the crafter’s favorite container into an adult lunchbox with the amazing ability to make even the simplest salad look like a work of art. The jars are inexpensive, environmentally friendly and easy to transport. It’s no coincidence that this ‘transparent’ lunch box has closely paralleled the modern food industry’s omni-channel and transparency driven market. Let’s be honest, consumers don’t only want transparency, but equally as important, an easy way to access the information from any device and the ability to purchase products from wherever they are at any time of day.

And as we’ve talked about often, consumers demand to know more about what is going into their food. That plays into this very transparent movement: people want to feel good about what they’re eating, which goes beyond just what is in a product. Information such as the country of origin, animal safety and treatment, and if the packaging is environmentally friendly have all become major factors in the purchase decision.

“People are increasingly demanding to know where their food comes from, how and where it’s grown and why certain ingredients are used. They now expect this kind of information to be accessible at the touch of a button. The question is no longer if companies should disclose the details of food ingredients, but how.” Dave Stangis Vice President, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability at Campbell Soup Company

So while there aren’t any food labels on the iconic mason jar, you can be sure that the ingredient labels of the foods used to fill them have been dually scrutinized and given the official seal of approval.  The expansion and availability of food labels have made a real difference in providing families across the globe with the information they need in order to make healthy choices

Fortunately, resources and additional product labeling, such as the 1WorldSync SmartLabel solution, are providing consumers with many different ways to ‘see through’ the specific ingredient list, just as they can ‘see-through’ the layers of their delicious lunchtime layered taco salad. And in the spirit of sharing, we’ve included the delicious recipe. Now, what’s not to like about that?

Mason Jar Recipes (courtesy Pinterest)

E-Shopping Online Internet Website Concept

The Supplier Side – Must Do: Leveraging Walmart’s Store Assortment Online Initiative

Consumers continually demand a seamless shopping experience across all platforms. So, the flip side of course is that if a customer can’t find the right product online, it becomes a source of frustration and likely a loss sale. The quest for omni-channel supremacy continues for retailers across the board. Mega retailers, such as Walmart, are investing heavily in e-commerce (think Jet.com acquisition).

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Career woman on building roof looking in spyglass over city

It’s Showtime: It’s Time for YOU to Discover 1WorldSync Showcase for Foodservice

Are you ready to get your food products discovered by more buyers? Or Are you ready to diversify your product offerings and convert more customers?

1WorldSync presents Showcase for Foodservice!

Q1: What’s the main purpose of the 1WorldSync Showcase for  Foodservice

1WorldSync Showcase for Foodservice is a B2B community based application and digital marketplace where food buyers can discover products to sell in their stores/restaurants. On the flip side, sellers can decide to showcase some or all of their food products to be discovered by existing or new buyers or app developers, worldwide. By creating this visibility of products, 1WorldSync Showcase for Foodservice allows you to connect globally and grow your sales!

Q2: What are some of the benefits for suppliers who participate?

1WorldSync Showcase for Foodservice allows foodservice manufacturers and suppliers to highlight their products to the long tail of foodservice distributors. This will allow new revenue opportunities and lower cost to serve by ensuring accurate content is readily available to customers and third parties alike.

  • Provide visualization to the entire Foodservice community to search and view your products
  • Reduce manual process of publishing to individual foodservice community recipients
  • Eliminate the need for recipients to provide outdated product content to sell your products
  • Allow recipients access to your product content – resulting in new sales
  • Provide one version of the truth with accurate, up-to-date product content
  • Enhance relationships with your trading partners

Q3: How does the 1WorldSync Showcase for Foodservice benefit a Foodservice distributor?

It’s a great way for a distributor or operator to feature additional products for purchase by their consumers, especially as we head into the holiday shopping season.

  • Discover and sell new products
  • Connect to thousands of global suppliers
  • Diversify your product offering and convert more customers

Q4: How do you sign up for the 1WorldSync Showcase for Foodservice?

It’s easy! Call 866-280-4013 or click today! Take a tour of the app and fill out the online form to learn more! A 1WorldSync representative to contact you so you can get started right away.

Take a tour and get started with 1WorldSync Showcase for Foodservice today!

fresh radish in hand against sky

The Organic (R)evolution

What may seem like a revolution has really been a slow and steady renaissance. Certainly before the 1920s, all agriculture was generally organic.  But then along came modern techniques, chemical pesticides, fertilizers and weed killers leading to the rapid dismissal of organic farming methods for many decades.

A quick fast forward to the ‘be natural’ approach of the 1960s and 1970s, and consumers were suddenly interested in health, nutrition and environmental conservation. But organic foods were still not in the mainstream (think hippies and off-the-beaten-path health food stores) and despite the audience buying, were expensive and exclusionary.  Conversely, most Americans at that time were enjoying inexpensive TV dinners, Hamburger Helper and casseroles made from canned soups.

By the 1990s, organic foods spread to the corners of specialty supermarkets and were the cornerstone of newer food emporiums, such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.  Unfortunately, organic food costs were nearly double or triple their non-organic counterparts. And aside from the expense, availability was also limited.  Not every neighborhood boasted a Gelson’s or Bristol Farms. Going organic was for the few and the elite.

Today, the organic industry has moved beyond a niche market. Organic products now occupy prime shelf space in the big chain supermarkets, mainstream retailers and are much more accessible and affordable. Food giants like General Mills and Kellogg have entered the organic game and many small organic food companies have grown into large businesses. For example, ‘O – Organics’ just launched a new ad campaign with the main message being “We believe that great tasting organic food should be available to everyone and sold everywhere at a great value.”

In fact, the “booming U.S. organic industry posted new records in 2015, with total organic product sales hitting a new benchmark of $43.3 billion, up a robust 11 percent from the previous year’s record level and far outstripping the overall food market’s growth rate of 3 percent, according to the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA) 2016 Organic Industry Survey.

So clearly, it’s not just hippies and health food nuts jumping on the organic train. Today, according to the OTA, “It is the face of America. The demographics of the organic consumer are not any different than the demographics of America.”

For retailers, the growing organic market continually increases the potential for more sales. However, it can be hard to lure new customers in and keep them as your customers. Industry trends have shown that to gain more customers, providing consumers with the information they demand is the key. This begins with offering the products consumers want, which can be discovered within 1WorldSync Showcase; and requires transparency of product information in the form of an easily accessible standardized, digital label, such as the 1WorldSync SmartLabel solution.

1WorldSync keeps a pulse on all consumer and market trends so that your business can continue to thrive while maintaining the brand loyalty it has established over the years, whether it began pre- or post-organic renaissance.

Pinocchio su sfondo giallo

Retail: The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated

A recent headline: “Out of whack weather, gluttonous inventories and changing consumer spending patterns have shouldered much of the blame for sluggish retail sales.”  Sluggish?   Well, we tend to agree with Mark Twain on this.  The reports of retail’s death are indeed greatly exaggerated.  In fact, most retailers — including some large ones — are finding plenty of growth.

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Eros Cupid statue of Piccadilly Circus, London England UK

Discoverability, the Modern Matchmaker of B2C Relationships

Fancy an artisanal vanilla-spiked ginger-ale?  What about sun dried tomato cottage cheese?  Have a hankering for fresh poke spiked with birch water?  Or perhaps your tastes run a little more old-fashioned, say whole bean pasta, rolled ice cream and rainbow flecked cappuccino.  All real, quite delicious food trends from the summer of 2016.  Consumers want the unusual, the interesting and the Instagram-worthy.  It’s all good and it’s all delicious and it’s what consumers are shopping for.

Interestingly, many of these items are from small food suppliers/brands. And they are flourishing, encroaching on market share and gaining national distribution as shoppers reach for products that tout themselves as novel, local, rarefied or containing better ingredients. One reason for the success of many small food suppliers and brands, is that along with distributors – some sell through etailers, such as Amazon; other small companies sell directly to the consumer.  (According to the NY Times: “Total sales are still dominated by big brands, but brands lost market share in 42 of 54 categories, from baby food to yogurt, over the last five years as new products gained.”)

We’ll state the obvious, but food products – from small and large food companies alike – must get in front of as many consumers as possible, whether on physical and/or virtual shelves.  And in order to do this effectively, the focus must be on providing the retailer with as much product information as possible.

This is exactly where 1WorldSync can help. 1WorldSync has developed Showcase for Foodservice, a B2B community based application where you can decide to showcase some or all of your products so that they can be discovered by existing and new buyers or application developers, worldwide! And since 1WorldSync has well-established and longstanding partnerships with the largest foodservice distributors across the globe, chances are pretty darn good that your products will be easily discovered, increasing your brand awareness and of course, your bottom line!

 

Woman using mobile smart phone at the airport

“Are You Ready for a Micro Moment?”

Picture this.  You’re in line at the airport, waiting to board that 6am flight to Atlanta.  You look to your left and notice the perfect smart carry-on luggage.  You try to look more closely to capture the brand.  As you board the plane, you take out your smartphone and Google the item name.  You scroll for the product specs – the size, the color.  A moment later, as you buckle your seatbelt, you hit ‘Add Item to Cart.’  The passenger sitting next to you pulls out the latest headphones du jour.  Is it compatible with your laptop? You take out your smartphone again.  What’s the show he’s streaming?  Who’s that actor?  Take out your smartphone and find out.  They’re serving breakfast now and you wonder what’s healthier – the bagel & cream cheese or the poppy seed scone?  No need to wonder, just check your smartphone one more time.  

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