2.3 Innovation management
METRO takes pride in driving innovation. Innovations are essential for new solutions, which METRO develops for its operational business and also for its customers. With Hospitality Digital and METRO-NOM, we are pursuing the goal of developing these types of solutions and making workflows more efficient.
Hospitality Digital: supporting the digitalisation of our business customers
In October 2018, METRO launched the DISH (dish.co) platform to further accelerate the digitalisation of the hospitality industry. The platform enables restaurateurs to quickly access digital products, such as tools to create an internet presence operated by Hospitality Digital or an online reservation tool. The digital solutions offered by DISH were developed by Hospitality Digital and external providers. Membership on DISH is free and accessible to all restaurateurs, even if they are not yet METRO customers. Restaurateurs are encouraged to connect via the platform and find out about current gastronomic trends and events. DISH is already available in 14 countries with more than 170,000 restaurateurs using the solutions on the platform. Since April 2019, METRO has also been offering the DISH app, which provides users mobile access to all digital DISH tools without having to log in for each individual product. Moreover, the app features a free personnel management tool, which allows restaurateurs to easily control their entire personnel management online.
restaurateurs use DISH
In addition, Hospitality Digital is conducting various pilot projects aimed at increasing the revenue of the participating hospitality businesses. One example is a loyalty programme that allows consumers to collect loyalty points in restaurants in Berlin. The goal is to increase both the attractiveness and the sales of the participating restaurants.
Another project is the cooperation with Google, which began in 2018 with the support of Hospitality Digital regarding the verification of ‘Google My Business’ accounts. In 2019, the cooperation continued by connecting the online reservation tool to ‘Reserve with Google’. This link allows the consumer to reserve a table using the online reservation tool within the Google search function. This has led to a 20% increase in reservations via the online reservation tool at participating restaurants.
In addition to the already established accelerator programmes in the hospitality and retail sectors, METRO launched the ‘METRO Target Retail Accelerator, Certified by Techstars’ in May 2019. International start-ups have participated in the programme, which took place at the METRO Accelerator in Berlin and at Target, the American retail company based in Minneapolis.
Furthermore, Hospitality Digital invests in promising technology companies through the LeadX Capital Partners brand. It often collaborates with other external investors.
METRO-NOM: innovative solutions for the operational business
METRO is also forging ahead with the digitalisation of its operating business in order to better meet individual customer needs, deploy resources profitably and utilise data for its operations. Digital solutions also support METRO’s sustainability initiatives by making processes more efficient and, for example, minimising the use of paper. In line with this initiative, METRO-NOM develops innovative approaches for the 24 national subsidiaries in which METRO Wholesale is represented with wholesale stores.
By standardising processes, synergy effects are used in the introduction of central IT solutions. At the same time, METRO-NOM accounts for the special requirements of the individual business models in the individual countries. In Romania, METRO-NOM cooperates with the IT service provider Spryker in setting up a tailor-made online shop for Trader customers. This online shop will now also be transferred to Russia, where Traders customers represent the key target group. In addition, the digital ordering process via M-Shop is currently available to – or in the process of being activated for – professional customers in 17 countries. In financial year 2018/19, around 5.3 million orders were recorded via M-Shop.
orders were recorded via M-Shop
The METRO Companion app was developed to improve the shopping experience for customers. Customers can use the app to search for products, check their in-store availability and create individual shopping lists. The app also serves as a digital customer card and includes digital coupons that replace a plastic card or paper receipts.
As part of a test project, METRO-NOM is testing blockchain technology for secure archiving of irrevocably decentralised stored data. The solution enables storing and comprehensively analysing raw data, such as POS data. This analysis helps predict shopping behaviour of customers to adjust product inventories in advance.
In addition, METRO-NOM is testing in France whether using robotics to analyse stock levels in the stores generates added value. They expect the robot to detect inventory gaps faster and more accurately than conventional methods. If this pilot project proves to be successful, the concept will be implemented across the board.
NX-Food: The innovation hub for promotion of start-ups
Another important task for METRO is the promotion of young companies in the food industry. The innovation hub NX-Food was founded in March 2018 to develop innovative and sustainable food concepts in the retail and hospitality sectors. Via NX-Food, METRO offers start-ups a platform to market their innovative food products. More than 600 start-up companies have already submitted their applications to METRO Germany and METRO Austria to have their products featured in the product range for a 3-month test phase. More importantly, they hope to stay on the shelves permanently, if the test phase is successful. NX-Food also cooperates with the airline Eurowings and with Retail in Motion. From August 2018 to October 2019, products from up to 4 start-ups have been featured in Eurowings’ magazine ‘Wings Bistro’ for one quarter.
NX-Food is also very engaged in community and partnership programmes. Amongst other things, NX-Food has hosted more than 30 events bringing together over 2,000 industry experts, start-up entrepreneurs, restaurateurs and people with a passion for innovative food.
To reinforce this commitment, NX-Food decided in 2019 to partner with Europe’s leading food innovation initiative, the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) Food. NX-Food advises the start-ups of the RisingFoodStars Association and supports them with extensive market expertise.
NX-Food and METRO are also founding members of the new Association for Alternative Protein Sources (BALPro). The association brings together more than 60 representatives from trade, industry, science and research to provide transparent and traceable information on animal and plant protein sources.