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How 84.51° Helped Kroger Stay Ahead of the COVID-19 Pandemic

By: Andrew Cron, VP of Research & Development

Andrew Cron, VP of Research & Development

84.51° is a data analytics and marketing agency tasked with analyzing Kroger shopper data to provide insights that guide the company’s business decisions. As the largest U.S. grocer with data from over 60 million U.S. households, this is no small feat. But, by using a proprietary suite of tools and big data technologies, 84.51° is able to continually create personalized connections that drive loyalty and inform decision-making to keep the customer at heart. When the COVID-19 crisis hit, along with the subsequent supply chain interruptions and drastic changes in shopper behaviors, 84.51° was prepared and immediately took action.

Clearing the fog

The first challenge we faced was a lack of clarity. Our business leaders needed information to be able to figure out what was going on to be able to take a corrective course of action. To help with this, 84.51° created a granular insights and modeling tool. We then used this tool to analyze Kroger shopper data and pull apart how different factors, such as stockpiling, impact on the economy and shoppers staying at home, laddered up into Kroger’s revenue and financial outlook.

Understanding the individual

Rounding out these insights required a better understanding of the individual shopper. While doing so has always been at the heart of our business, the pandemic changed shopper behavior very quickly. Being able to adapt quickly to meet these changing behaviors required us to obtain the metrics necessary to gain the insights. To do this, 84.51° turned customer metrics into rolling metrics. We found that during this period of crisis, customers’ responses to price, quality and health began to shift and, in some cases, significantly. These insights into how shoppers’ preferences were shifting allowed Kroger to make the necessary adjustments to better meet their needs.

Anticipating the changes

Finally, meeting shoppers’ needs means having the supply chain in place to not only move the required items into Kroger stores, but have them in place before the demand for them arises. The arrival of the pandemic and the rapidly changing shopper demands made this need even more critical and simultaneously complex. To better understand these changing needs and how to provide an accurate forecast to plan for them, 84.51° analyzed millions of forecasts it had created for every store, UPC and day. Using machine learning and statistics, 84.51° was able to understand how the error in these forecasts was evolving over time. Any error spikes representing major shifts in demands on the supply chain could be identified and presented to leadership in an easily understood way, to guide their decision making and help get ahead of these trends. This allowed Kroger to prepare the supply chain and suppliers for what’s coming next.

By taking big data sets, and applying statistics and machine learning, we were able to distill the knowledge gained from customers’ pandemic shopping behaviors into actionable insights for our business partners and leaders. Doing so has helped Kroger stay ahead of the COVID-19 crisis, to the very best of its ability, while keeping its communities supplied.

Andrew Cron, VP of Research & Development
As SVP, Chief Scientist, Andrew Cron is the Head of 84.51° Labs, whose mission is to accelerate transformational data science technology innovation across 84.51° and Kroger. Applications include enterprise scale prici...

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