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5 Customer Experience Trends that Can Take Your Online Grocery Website to the Next Level

There’s a lot of talk in the media about customer experiences (CX) these days—and some pundits are suggesting that online grocery eCommerce will finally hit its stride in 2018 and beyond, with figures predicting eCommerce grocery sales growth to 20 percent of grocery sales by 2025 (from 2 percent today).

Thus, while eCommerce categories like apparel, electronics, and general merchandise have typically led the way in terms of eCommerce spending over the past five to ten years, there’s reason to believe that the expansion of big-name players like Amazon and Wal-Mart into the online grocery business will pave the way for more regional and local grocery eCommerce retailers to disrupt traditional models, thereby carving out their own niche in this highly lucrative business.

What’s driving that growth? We argue that it’s the influence of today’s empowered consumers, who have the ability to vote with their dollars, to demand better shopping experiences that take their unique wants and needs into account.

If you’re eager to take your online grocery business to the next level, take advantage of these five proven CX trends that are transforming the eCommerce sector around the world. 

1. Use emerging technology to deliver ultra-personalized shopping experiences

According to an October 2017 study, retailers across North America expect to spend more in 2018 on emerging technologies like location-based marketing, AI and machine learning, and predictive analytics based on big data. And while the integration of technology into the retail experience can have its pitfalls—including the initial capital investments required, as well as the need for ongoing maintenance and upkeep—there are plenty of examples from marketers who have already gotten onto the tech bandwagon to prove that these types of sophisticated next-level tools facilitate a more personalized shopping journey and better-quality customer experiences.

What’s next on the retail horizon? Using facial-recognition software, both in-store and online, to allow customers to access and bill purchases to their accounts, and the expansion of mobile wallets that speed up the check-out process.

2. Leverage rich content that gets consumers involved

The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” is true: One of the quickest ways to improve CX on your online grocery site is to feature better product photography that entices consumers to learn more about each item’s features and benefits. But consider taking this one step further, by embedding high-quality videos that showcase products in a real context—whether that’s video you’ve shot yourself (e.g., U.K.-based Waitrose’s TV channel with video clips embedded into their site) or helpful clips you’ve embedded from YouTube or other sources (e.g., providing a demonstration of how to open a pomegranate or ways to use CPG products in everyday recipes, like this.)

3. Broaden your buying opportunities with social shopping

Chances are good that your target audiences spend a significant part of their days on social media channels (especially Millennials, who gravitate towards social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram, in contrast to Gen Zers, who prefer visually engaging, video-rich platforms like Snapchat, Whisper and Secret). And while each group isn’t necessarily a “captive audience” on social media—with Gen Zers switching back and forth between up to five screens at any given time—community-building channels like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest provide the perfect platform to showcase products in less obtrusive ways, thereby leading to more organic shopping opportunities that can drive better conversions.

[Check out this article for some great tips for marketing CPG products on Instagram, including integrating eCommerce into your posts.]

4. Offer more flexible delivery options that suit all types of customers

With growth in next-day, same-day, and even one-hour delivery options to offering multiple delivery locations and upgraded product return services (with costs covered by the eCommerce retailer) and more, consumers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to their expectations on the logistics of receiving their purchases from online sites.

This UPS study from 2016 makes clear that more flexible options and information are key lynchpins in today’s eCommerce game:

  • 46 percent of shoppers abandoned their online cart due to a shipping time that was too long or not provided.
  • 1 in 3 respondents said that speed of delivery is a reason they choose to buy from online
  • 2 out of 3 respondents expected to be able to place an order up to 5 p.m. the night before for next-day delivery.
  • Half of shoppers were willing to pay a premium for faster shipping due to time-sensitive personal reasons.

More online grocers are catching on to this trend, with Loblaws partnering with Instacart to offer grocery delivery across Canada in 2017, following the expansion of their Click & Collect service across the country in mid-2016. Meanwhile in the U.S., Wal-Mart—whose stores have offered click and collect services for years now and expanded their grocery delivery services, with the help of Uber, across the U.S., and soon, to Japan—wants to send people into homes to stock fridges while consumers are at work.

5. Facilitate faster and more satisfying buying experiences with eCommerce helpdesk services

More retailers of every shape, size, and type have caught on to the benefits of cloud tech-based helpdesk solutions that streamline customer and employee support across various channels, including toll-free numbers, website forms, instant messaging, email, and even feedback and concerns posted on social media platforms.

Helpdesk services benefit customers and retail employees alike, by limiting costly delays that can lead to shopper attrition; increasing employee efficiency and satisfaction while nullifying customer dissatisfaction; and often, helping to grow current customers’ lifetime values over time.

[Learn more about the advantages of helpdesk services for online grocery retailers here.]

Looking for ways to monitor the success of your grocery website? Check out our brand new eBook, “Measuring Success in Grocery eCommerce: 10 Metrics You Should be Tracking”.

Articles and resources by the Mercatus team to help guide you on your eCommerce journey.

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