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Keeping pace with change: 4 keys to eCommerce success

The slow pace of eCommerce adoption in grocery over the past decade may be a poor predictor of the speed of change coming our way. The rapid growth of Click-and-Collect in the past couple of years (from 18% in 2016 to 48% of all online grocery sales in 2018.1) shows a growing appetite for innovation. The Food Marketing Institute has forecasted that 70% of US shoppers could be buying groceries online by 2022.2

Your keys to success

Don’t be left behind. While the hurdles to adopting eCommerce may seem overwhelming, here are 4 ways to ensure you succeed.

#1 – Keep your customer as you seek out partners

Digital technology may not be on your list of key competencies, but that’s ok — you can outsource. Just make sure you don’t outsource your hard-earned customers along the way. Maintaining a trusted reputation with the local community involves sourcing technology that makes that relationship stronger, not weaker. Insist on owning your customers and all of the data associated with them. Anything less is a deal breaker.

#2 – Bring your local store to every shopper’s home

The goal of eCommerce is not to drive all in-store business online, but to bring the store brand and grocery experience into the homes of customers. Think of it as not an either/or proposition but a multi-faceted approach. Digital marketing should facilitate and grow in-store experiences.

#3 – Delight your customers

eCommerce is not just about online shopping and delivery. It’s also about automating the parts of the shopping experience that consumers don’t love. Many shoppers still enjoy going to the store to get expert advice from the butcher, hand-pick their own produce or attend in-store cooking tutorials. But most don’t enjoy the mundane grocery rituals, such as figuring out what’s on sale, comparing prices or getting relevant promotional coupons.

Reduce the less enjoyable aspects of shopping while increasing positive experiences and one-to-one value offerings. For example, encourage shoppers to preload their shopping list onto a mobile device and use it in the store as they shop. If you offer old-school hospitality like carrying heavy items to a customer’s car, point out that next time groceries could be carried all the way home. The opportunities to delight customers — both in-store and online — are endless.

#4 – Own the entire customer experience

Think about the customer experience from beginning to end and solve the problems that surround the entire experience of shopping, not just the act of shopping itself. Here are just a few possibilities, many of which you may be doing already:

  • help build the shopping list
  • offer personalized deals
  • teach something new about the products, store or technology that you use
  • delight with an in-store experience
  • offer product pairing suggestions
  • reduce coupon complexity by offering digital coupons
  • prepare the perfect meal to go
  • let them skip the lines

The next step is to pull it all together into one seamless experience. If it takes several different apps to get it done, the convenience is lost.

Technology leads to success

Digital technology, ironically, is allowing grocery to return to its roots. By using technological innovation to be the local place where customers can either shop in person or get their items delivered from a trusted merchant, regional grocers will continue to thrive for many years to come.

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References:
1 Hallett, L. (2018, March 10). How much are consumers really spending online? Retrieved from https://retailleader.com/how-much-are-consumers-really-spending-online

2 Weinswig, D. (2018, March 03). Online Grocery Set To Boom In 2018 (As Amazon Acknowledges Online Grocery A Tough Market To Crack). Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahweinswig/2018/03/01/online-grocery-set-to-boom-in-2018-asamazon-acknowledges-online-grocery-a-tough-market-to-crack/#5f844855520b

Further Reading:
Regional Grocery: New Digital Pathways to Convenience, Value and Margin Growth.


Thom Riley
Thom has more than 30 years experience at the Golub Corporation/Price Chopper Supermarket chain and now brings his wealth of industry knowledge and expertise to the Mercatus team as Senior Director, eCommerce Operations.
Marketing

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