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5 Online Grocery Personalization Strategies to Build Customer Connections

Online grocery personalization is a must-have for regional grocers, especially now that more households are routinely going online for their weekly grocery shop. As many as 80% of US consumers say they want personalization from retailers. 

Applied strategically, personalization can help you strengthen your connection to shoppers while overcoming some of today’s most difficult industry challenges. Here are five ways that personalization can help you strengthen your business.

1. Increase the effectiveness of promos

The downside of online is that many traditional methods of enticing consumers to spend more — endcap promotions, impulse items, shelf coupons — are lost. But personalized grocery shopping creates digital alternatives to offline opportunities. In fact, by helping you target your marketing activities to reach individuals, it can lead to more effective results than mass promotional techniques.

Personalization in action: Identify individual patterns to develop customer-specific offers based on a shopper’s order frequency, average basket size, or purchase history, instead of generalized offers and mass advertising that gives everyone a discount. 

This builds a sense of trust in your brand by showing customers that you know their unique preferences. And with relevant deals and offers, you’ll be saving customers valuable time when building their basket online. 

It can also help you achieve a specific objective — for example, attract new customers, convert occasional shoppers into regulars, reward loyal shoppers, upsell basket size, or cross-sell a specific product. 

Leverage Mercatus’ automated online grocery personalization solution to offer a 1:1 shopping experience for your customers. Here’s how it works.

2. Offset rising costs

A recent challenge that is unfamiliar to younger generations of shoppers and retailers: grocery inflation. As increased production costs trickle down the supply chain, eventually you’re left to decide whether to pass them along to customers and risk losing sales to lower-priced competitors. 

Personalized offers can help increase basket size, even when product prices have increased because customers are presented with products and offers that they want and need. This can result in offsetting the decrease in average order value caused by product price inflation, and possibly even increase average order value further.

Personalization in action: Relevant recommendations for an individual, offered at the right time and place in the online shopping experience will encourage larger baskets. From enticing email offers to relevant deals on the home page or at checkout, there are many opportunities to connect shoppers with relevant offers. 

Using marketing language such as, “Have you forgotten…” “You might also like…” and “Add X more items to get the quantity discount” is effective, real-time messaging you can use to engage and excite shoppers.

3. Manage expectations

Widespread supply chain shortages are another situation that many shoppers had never experienced before the pandemic. As manufacturers streamline their SKUs to focus on being able to deliver the most popular products and sizes, it’s inevitable that some shoppers will face disappointment. Personalization is the ideal tool to help you manage those expectations.

Personalization in action: Analyzing transactional data to identify fans of a product that’s about to be discontinued allows you to alert shoppers ahead of time and redirect them to relevant alternative products. This helps transform customer disappointment into a more positive interaction of product discovery. And if the recommended product is on sale, all the better.

4. Cultivate loyalty

Like many grocers, you may have enjoyed an influx of new online customers over the course of the pandemic. At the same time, customers are shopping in more places than ever. That includes local competitors and big-box stores, but also other verticals. With each interaction, expectations may be raised, as the consumer accumulates yet another experience with which to compare you. A well-executed personalized grocery shopping strategy can help you convert new customers into long-term patrons and impress your existing shopper base. 

Personalization in action: Engage with new customers right away. Get to know their preferences and continue to layer on new learnings and personalization to cater to their online shopping experience. 

Impress existing customers with more sophisticated personalization techniques. Providing a personalized product catalog that lists their favorite products, with items on sale front and center. Emailing offers to a loyalty program customer for the products they love. Or geo-targeting them through your app when they’re at your store to call out offers based on past purchases. 

5. Offset privacy limitations

While consumers want personalization, they also demand increased transparency around privacy and data collection. According to Pew Research, almost 80% of Americans are concerned about how companies use their data. 

Privacy legislation in the U.S. and Canada places restrictions around the use of cookies without the person’s consent and browsers are restricting unknown cookie use to protect consumers. This leaves retailers who rely on older marketing techniques scrambling. 

Personalization in action: Offering a personalized online grocery experience can bridge the competing demands of privacy and personalization. When a shopper signs up for your loyalty program or creates an account to shop online with you, they voluntarily provide information — so-called “zero-party data” — which you can use to market to them. 

Marketing through their existing relationship to give them relevant offers they want is typically regarded as acceptable and unobtrusive. And if your customers see value in shopping online with you, with all of the perks of personalization, marketing emails will further engage them instead of sitting unread in their inboxes.

Putting online grocery personalization to work

To really make personalization work for your brand, you need to treat every shopper as the unique individual they are. Consider demographics, location, shopping habits, and life cycle, and leverage technology that analyzes and applies this information to curate the shopping experience.

When you combine your unique brand with an experience that makes online shopping easier, faster, and cheaper, you can stand out in a sea of competitors. 

By creating an experience that makes it worthwhile for customers to shop with your brand, you’ll build customer lifetime value that leads to long-term success…

Discover how easy it is to activate online grocery personalization on your eCommerce site with Mercatus Personalization
Headshot of Mark Fairhurst

Mark develops global growth strategies for Mercatus and leads the Marketing, Sales, and Customer Experience teams.