Housewares Plays Key Role In Fueling Restock Kroger Growth Initiative

Kroger’s chief housewares merchant, Greg Parsons, told attendees of the IHA Chief Housewares Executive SuperSession (CHESS) that housewares plays an important role in the company’s “Restock Kroger” strategic transformation initiative.

The three-year Kroger Restock program kicked off in 2017 with a focus on redefining the customer food experience through digital development and technology, expanding partnerships to create customer value, developing talent and creating social impact (such as its “Zero Hunger, Zero Waste” program), according to Kroger.

Parsons, Kroger’s senior director of home and home product development, said housewares is an integral part of the lifestyle-driven food experience being implemented by Kroger with guidance from comprehensive customer loyalty data.

“Data fuels almost all of the decision-making in our company,” Parsons said. He noted Kroger’s many grocery nameplates and its Fred Meyer general merchandise/grocery division engage with some 4.5 million households a day, including more than 700,000 engagements in general merchandise.

Regarding Fred Meyer specifically, Parsons said, “If we can drive just one more trip by each customer, it’s a $93 million opportunity. The question is, ‘How do I target customers and make them buy more.’”

Parsons cited the recently opened, 52,000-square-foot Kroger food hall in Cincinnati, attached to a new condominium complex, as a captivating urban brick-and-mortar retail experience brimming with housewares opportunity.

“Retailers really need to be thinking about how to keep customers in the stores,” he said.

Housewares and tableware products were natural tie-ins, Parsons said, to Kroger’s recent promotion that sent celebrity chef Aaron Sanchez into four Ralph’s locations to prepare Latin-American recipes.

Parsons said Kroger is committed to amplifying national and private-label brands. He noted a partnership between Kroger and Lifetime Brands on a new line of licensed, kitchenware.

Customer data often helps guide Kroger on whether or not to develop products under private-label brands. “The data tells us, for example, that we don’t need our brand in small appliances,” Parsons said.

Parsons stressed the need for productive housewares items as Kroger widens its grocery mix relative to general merchandise.

“A key part of the Restock Kroger plan is to revolutionize the grocery experience,” Parsons said. “That puts tremendous pressure on return on space for every item in a store.”

For more on CHESS, see the October 14 issue of HomeWorld Business.