Search

THE CUSTOMER IN EVERYTHING WE DO

The K-Group’s main duty is to offer customers the products and services they need. We operate for the good of customers and create new services that make customers’ daily lives easier.

  • Responsibility, local presence and K-retailers are our competitive advantages
  • A personal approach and inspirational customer experience are our strengths
  • We provide the market with the best digital services in the trading sector

In Finland, all of the K-Group’s food stores, building and home improvement stores and agricultural stores are run by K-retailer entrepreneurs. Most of the K-stores are family businesses, run by a K-retailer couple. In 2015, there were over 1,100 K-retailers and 57 people began their K-retailer careers.

Retailer entrepreneurs build their selections flexibly according to the needs of the local community and customers. The chain’s common selection is complemented with retailers' direct purchases, such as food from local producers. K-retailers’ direct purchases from Finnish regions totalled €610 million in 2015.

The strength of the retailer business model is that the retailers are able to operate flexibly according to the needs of their local customers. The business model is agile because, as entrepreneurs, retailers can respond quickly and efficiently if the situation so requires.

K-retailers are present in their local communities. They influence the local community in many ways as they provide jobs, pay taxes, work in organisations, give lectures at schools and colleges, organise customer panels and support local activities.

#

in action:
LITTLE WOLVES BASKETBALL EVENT ENCOURAGED CHILDREN TO EXERCISE

A project began at the beginning of 2015 in cooperation between Kesko’s grocery trade and the Finnish Basketball Association to promote physical exercise among children. Thousands of Finnish children took part during the year. Cooperation will continue in 2016.

The first year of cooperation between the Finnish Basketball Association and K-food stores was packed with action, made possible by local K-retailers. During the first year, more than 10,000 children across Finland had a chance to enjoy physical exercise.

Pirkka Street Basket and Pirkka Little Wolves events were organised in 20 locations for primary school students. Basketball clubs started ’Little Wolves’ basketball schools in 50 locations, providing regular exercise to 2,200 children.

“Together with the Finnish Basketball Association we have had a chance to make an impact at the grassroot level and encourage thousands of children to be active. It is great that we can help schools encourage children to exercise at these times when schools’ resources are scarce,” says Ari Akseli, Vice President for commerce in Kesko’s grocery trade.
 
One of the absolute highlights of the year was the advertising campaign ‘Hungry as a wolf’. It conquered the media in August and September 2015, starring Sasu Salin and Krista Gross, two players of the national basketball team. The campaign also encouraged people to fix sports venues, while Pirkka provided food for all participants. Pirkka is also the main partner of the Finnish junior national basketball team.

Read more
Local selections based on customer wishes

Retailers are present in their customers’ daily lives, building selections and providing services by listening to their wishes.

Local needs are taken into account individually. For example, the selections of K-supermarkets in the eastern suburbs of Helsinki, which have a lot of immigrant residents, are very different from those operating in the Savo municipalities in eastern Finland, which have lots of summer residents.

Outside growth centres in particular, a store is able to provide services for the public good which could otherwise be difficult to access.

Information about good products and responsible actions is given in stores and marketing with the help of the K-responsibility concept and its slogan ‘Let’s do good. Together.’ The aim is to help and encourage customers to make responsible choices.

in action:
NEW SERVICES MAKE SHOPPING MORE FUN

Starbucks, Posti and DHL expanded their services to K-food stores in 2015. Appealing services offered by business partners make shopping at K-food stores easier, as many things can be taken care of at the same time.

Posti Group is renewing its network of service points and moving postal services from some of its own stores to places such as K-food store service points. K-food stores have long experience in providing postal services and Posti already has service points at about 170 stores. The change will improve the availability of services and enable longer opening hours.

”Postal service points at K-stores are a response to the accessibility that customers are looking for. New service points are open from morning till evening, including weekends, which is a great improvement to customer service,” says Sector Director Minna Wallenius, who is responsible for K-citymarket Oy’s checkout operations and customer service.

DHL Express and the K-Group started cooperation with the purpose of setting up 250−300 DHL service points at the K-Group’s food stores and building and home improvement stores across Finland. With their cooperation, Kesko and DHL aim to respond to the increasing popularity of e-commerce.

“Our partnering with DHL is bringing the world close to our customers. Parcels transported by DHL can be conveniently picked up while shopping with us,” says Tommi Kasurinen, Vice President for finance, store sites and logistics of Kesko's home improvement and speciality goods trade.

In spring 2015, Starbucks and the K-Group agreed to open Starbucks coffee shops at K-stores across Finland. The first one was opened at K-citymarket Sello in Espoo. In the future, Starbucks coffee shops will be opened in various parts of Finland.

“We want to offer K-store customers a new kind of experience by providing them with an opportunity to enjoy a high quality coffee shop experience when shopping for groceries. The core of Starbucks’ operations lies in delivering a superior customer experience, which is also of key importance for K-stores,” says Jorma Rauhala, Senior Vice President of Kesko’s grocery trade division.

Read more
The best digital services

The objective of Kesko’s digitalisation strategy is for the K-Group to provide the best digital services in 2017. The aim of digital services is to make customers' daily lives easier, be it in cooking, shopping list planning, bathroom renovation, or car maintenance. Digital services will be tailored precisely to customers' individual needs. Customers will choose the services they use, and where, when and how they use them.

Digitalisation has transferred decison making power to the customer: customers research products and services online before purchasing and compare details on social media.

Customers can shop and receive goods via many channels irrespective of time and place. The customer can choose whether to shop for groceries in a retail store or online: whether to fill the shopping basket in a store, collect an online order from a store on the way home, or have the shopping delivered directly to the home. K-food stores’ own online stores offer the click and collect service or home delivery, or both.

The K-food mobile application introduced in autumn 2015 offers personal benefits, store-specific special offers and a smart shopping list that recommends products frequently bought by the customer, as well as nearly 6,000 recipes with instructions.

K-Plussa's mobile card was also introduced in 2015. It is an app that can be downloaded to a phone and operates like a contactless K-Plussa card.

Stakeholder address:
Online sales of food linked to domestic help

In the collaboration between the K-food store and home service, store staff pick food items for as many as ten old people during one trip round the store for domestic help workers to collect and deliver to the old people' s homes.

We have long delivered food supplies to institutional kitchens in the Mikkeli region. In 2014, when I heard about Kesko’s plans to start online food sales I became interested. At the same time, Mikkeli University of Applied Sciences launched a project called ’Customer-oriented home food services’, which we were asked to contribute to.

When collaboration with the City of Mikkeli was confirmed, the introduction of the click and collect service proceeded rapidly. This collaboration remains an important part of the service. Domestic help workers place their customers’ grocery orders online and we pick the items at the agreed time. Each domestic help worker then collects all of the purchases for her or his area from the store.

Customers order a wide range of products online: from fruit to dairy products and household tissues. Currently most of the people using the click and collect service are also customers of the municipal service for the elderly. The second largest group are families with small children. Daily routines become easier for families with children if they can place orders online at home. Customers can choose whether to collect shopping from the store or order home delivery. If delivery is chosen, the shopping is taken directly to the kitchen if the customer so wishes.

We think this service is socially significant. Together with domestic help, we can efficiently handle food shopping for the elderly. Staff can pick items for as many as ten old people during one trip round the store premises. Thanks to this collaboration, the store has been able to take on one more full-time employee.

This excellent service should be increasingly highlighted to consumers. This is a very favourably priced and quick way to shop for groceries for the whole week. Customers who use the service have praised it and would not like to return to the old system. The online food store is a new way to save time.

The click and collect service requires the store to be accurate. Staff must know the products and the entire store thoroughly. When picking products, special attention must be paid to their size options and EAN codes, so that the item that ends up in the basket is definitely the one the customer has ordered.

K-retailer Jari Mattila, K-supermarket Rokkala, Mikkeli

Read more
#
Management by information increasingly important

Knowledge of customer needs, taking advantage of customer data and the chains’ customer programmes play a key role in business planning for Kesko and K-stores.

Digitalisation enables marketing to be targeted in a more personalised manner with the help of customer data. When marketing is based on customers’ personal purchase histories they can receive benefits that are better suited to their particular needs. For example, customers can be sent post-purchase service messages, inquiries or personalised special offers via the channel of their choice.

In the future, reaching individual customers will be ever more difficult. Making use of customer data will become increasingly important, because the aim is to send even more personalized customer messages.

Management by information is especially important. Digital traces enable decisions to be made based on facts in a new way and us to listen to our customers and know what they want.

Customer feedback guides the development of operations

Social media provides new opportunities for interaction with consumers. Kesko and its chains as well as K-retailers engage in active dialogue with customers and other stakeholders on social media.

We encourage our customers to give us feedback and aim to make it easy for them. Kesko’s objective is to provide a simple and fast multichannel platform for customer feedback. The feedback received guides the development of stores’ and Kesko’s operations.

Kesko Food’s Consumer Service offers customers many kinds of information: in addition to giving feedback on products, customers ask about product origins, ingredients, their suitability for different users, and instructions for use and cooking. Customers can contact the Consumer Service to inquire about the country of origin of any ingredient of any Pirkka product. In 2015, the Consumer Service was contacted 19,770 times.

Customers give their opinion about the quality of our operations and products, and whether our service meets their expectations. In addition to customer satisfaction surveys, we continuously monitor Net Promoter Score for customer sentiment.

Read more about customer satisfaction surveys in the GRI report.

 

in action:
Stores must take all customers’ needs into account

Can you get around every part of the store in a wheelchair? How does a visually impaired person handle payment at the checkout? Do security guards follow members of the Romany community who shop in stores? These were some of the issues discussed by the consumer panels organised as part of Kesko’s human rights assessment.

In 2014, Kesko started to assess human rights related impacts in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

As part of the human rights assessment we listened to our stakeholders’ views on matters such as how they feel about human rights in customer situations. In the autumn of 2015, we organised four consumer panels. On the basis of these, two more extensive customer surveys were carried out, involving about 600 customers.

The panels discussed the experiences of the disabled, rehabilitees with mental problems, immigrants and other special groups when shopping in stores and what could be done to correct the faults.

“The discussions revealed that special groups should be taken into account to a greater extent from the planning stage of the store or service. Even neighbourhood stores should provide unrestricted access to all, older customers would like to have magnifying glasses on shelf edges to help reading, and many special groups would like assistance and unhurried presence for payment at checkouts,” says Matti Kalervo, Kesko’s Vice President for Corporate Responsibility.

Feedback helps improve the customer experience

The Non-Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, nationality, state of health or other personal characteristics. No group as a whole must be judged on the basis of the actions of one member of the group.

Many of the panel participants said, however, that they have sometimes been discriminated against when shopping or applying for a job. A representative of the Romany community said that store security guards often follow her when she goes shopping. Young people feel that they are treated differently from other customers, while immigrants are less keen on shopping because of their inadequate knowledge of Finnish.

Consumer panel participants were pleased that the organisers wanted to hear about their experiences and wishes. Several ideas came up during the discussion about how to further improve the shopping experience:

  • Staff should be trained to understand diversity and multi-cultural issues
  • More people belonging to special groups should be employed on apprenticeship contracts, for example
  • Low-income people also want to eat healthily, so special offers should include more healthy products
  • Store signage is also needed at sitting height and in plain language, as suggested by panel members

The human rights assessment is expected to be completed during the first half of 2016. It will be published on Kesko’s web pages.

Read more about how small changes can improve unobstructed shopping.

Read more