You had me at “Would you like a grande latte?”

starbucks-coffeeMy local Safeway isn’t what I would call a very modern store. And the employees are either high school kids bagging groceries and collecting carts or middle-aged cashiers, bakers and butchers. It was a big step forward a few years ago when I could sign for my credit card purchase on an electronic device. I had just finished my transaction today when the store manager stepped up and said, “Mr. Taylor?”. I nodded my head slowly as I didn’t think he knew my name. I was even more surprised when he said, “My system tells me you’re one of our best customers. Would you like a grande latte? I’d like to offer you a grande sized drink of your choice at our Starbucks.”

I asked him how he knew. He pointed to his smartphone and said, “It’s a new thing we are doing to show our appreciation.” Huh…my low-tech local grocery store has taken a big step up in having the right data, in the right hands, at the right moment, and with the right context. I wasted no time getting my latte and left the store with a big smile on my face.


But I have a secret…we really like shopping at Trader Joe’s. We go to Safeway because it is closer to my house and carries some things TJ’s doesn’t. Recently, we’ve begun gradually spending less at Safeway and more at the other store, probably something he didn’t know. The ‘personal’ touch he showed, however, is more than we get elsewhere and provides something to think about before we take our business a few miles away.

Now, I don’t think he really knows me personally, but his systems were smart enough to capture that a good customer just punched in their discount code at register 3 and provided him with the name. The elapsed time between identification of the client and the offer of a token of appreciation was probably less than ten seconds. To redeem my drink, I simply used my code again at the Starbucks register and watched the sale ring up as $0.00. Having that data just a minute later would have been too late as I would have left the store and the opportunity would have been lost.

But wait, there’s more

If that was where it ended, it would have been a nice story. The manager also offered a big discount on roses from the flower shop. I replied that I buy my flowers from somewhere else, and he said, “Yes, that’s why I’d like you to get them here.” He knew what I didn’t buy at his store. He was making an attempt to capture my business without selling against himself. I said that I couldn’t today but asked if it was good for next time, and he replied, “I’ll put the offer on your account through the 31st of December.” I loved it.

I probably will buy the flowers another time.

This story is likely to become something we all see happening at an increasing pace as more enterprises move toward better tracking of customer trends, improved availability of key data, and strategic use of mobile devices. It isn’t just about loyalty, either, as the rose offer showed…it is about expanding revenue by having the tools to increase revenue in creative new ways. When the this can happen at Safeway, it can happen anywhere we find ourselves.


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Categories: Data Analytics / Big Data, Patterns / Rules / Events, Real-time, Retail

Author:Chris Taylor

Reimagining the way work is done through big data, analytics, and event processing. There's no end to what we can change and improve. I wear myself out...

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One Comment on “You had me at “Would you like a grande latte?””

  1. Kate
    August 3, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    I love Safeway Stores (Von’s, Pavillions) because of their commitment to the LOCAL communities where they operate. They actively support the smaller charities within the area, unlike many other big retailers who send their fund-raising donations, and other charitable giving funds to some giant far away charitable institutions. So they are actually helping out my friends and neighbors, and that makes me feel good about shopping there.

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