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Leveraging the Insights to Build a Sustainable and Scalable Omnichannel Grocery Strategy 

The insights gathered from our research suggest that the biggest challenge for retailers in this highly volatile landscape lies in managing rising customer expectations and delivering on their ever-evolving requirements. The solution to this is building an omnichannel grocery strategy centered around delivering integrated experiences that offer modern grocery shoppers unparalleled convenience, choice, control, and cost reduction that they’ve come to expect. 

In this section, we will break down how to craft an omnichannel strategy that meets their shoppers’ evolving preferences, enhances profitability and improves share of wallet, drives unwavering brand loyalty, and future-proofs grocers from the constantly changing industry dynamics – all at once. 

Step 1: Invest in a Reliable Pickup Program 

Since pickup has proven to be the unanimously preferred fulfillment method among US grocery shoppers, building a reliable pickup program is absolutely critical for grocers’ success today. You need a platform that optimizes for quick basket collection, staging, and handoff and reduces wait times for customers. 

You will need a platform that best uses integrated technologies to facilitate real-time communication for order substitutions and upsells and enables you to track and manage orders via centralized dashboard, so you can deliver a seamless curbside pickup experience to your customers.  

Step 2: Build a Rewarding Loyalty Program 

Since grocery shoppers’ loyalty towards any particular store has taken a serious hit through the course of the pandemic, it’s important to start driving repeat purchase behavior to thrive in the long run. Building an irresistible loyalty program is the first step towards retaining customers and getting them to revisit your store. 

Also, since high-income households and younger age groups are more likely to sign up for grocery subscriptions and loyalty programs (chart #17), it makes sense to craft your strategy to target these demographics for a high conversion rate. 

Step 3: Revisit Your eCommerce Pricing Strategy 

The insights gathered indicated that online grocery shoppers are apprehensive of additional or explicit charges and not so much about in-store and online product pricing differences (see chart #9). So, the biggest challenge is to reduce additional fees that get added for every delivery or pickup order, while still boosting profitability. 

Therefore, as a retailer, you have the opportunity to offset some of your operational costs towards prices of online products and offer subsidized pickup or delivery services that shoppers don’t have to think twice about. 

Step 4: Regain Control Over Your Online Customer Experiences 

If you’ve outsourced your online grocery operations to a third-party platform, you are essentially giving up access to valuable customer data that can be game-changing in aiding your omnichannel decision-making. By leveraging solutions that enable you to build your own eCommerce platform, you can regain control of your customer experiences and data, so you can stay a step ahead of what shoppers expect. Regaining control might translate into more operational challenges for your business, but will also pay back in increased profits and customer loyalty.   

Step 5: Segment and Target Each Audience Group With Personalization 

The insights analyzed in the previous section make it evident that not all households or customers have similar preferences or grocery shopping patterns. While younger shoppers value convenience more and are willing to spend on additional fees to get their groceries delivered at doorstep (chart #10), older shoppers try to avoid any explicit costs. 

Similarly, subscriptions and memberships are more commonly opted for by high-income households and younger customers are more likely to use eGrocery in the coming year (see chart #17)

The crux, therefore, is that your marketing needs to target each of these audience segments with personalized communication, promotions, and deals focused on what they value the most. For example, Gen Z and millennials can be targeted with grocery membership ads on social channels, whereas middle-aged customers can be targeted with in-store promotions via flyers and coupons. 

Step 6: Invest in Scalable Grocery Fulfillment Integrations 

When it comes to the end-to-end fulfillment process, there are quite a few moving parts that need to function smoothly to deliver a seamless experience to customers. From optimizing picking, packing, and staging to offering real-time communication to utilizing shoppers’ geolocation for shorter wait times and also increasing time slot availability – all of these require sophisticated integrations that scale along with your business and operations. 

Investing in a platform that offers these capabilities will not only allow you to fulfill orders with efficiency and ease, but also build a futuristic omnichannel process that takes your business to the next level. 

Step 7: Optimize Your Website For Conversions 

Online shopping is here to stay and is an irreplaceable part of your omnichannel grocery strategy. Research has also confirmed that most grocery shoppers today are omnichannel (chart #5) But, the quality of your eGrocery experiences can determine whether or not a shopper returns to your store. Since your website is your digital storefront, you don’t want customers to be returning because of a messy layout, poor signage, long queues, or simply a bad experience. 

So, if your website is hard to navigate, lacks necessary features such as search filters, has a complicated checkout process, and is not optimized for conversations in general, you might be rapidly losing out on online sales. 

Start by running a quick audit to figure out opportunities for improvement with regard to your engagement and conversion rates and create a plan of action targeting low-hanging fruits first. Your aim should be to make it absolutely frictionless for online shoppers to browse through your inventory and place their orders without facing any hiccups. 

Step 8: Build a Robust Mobile App

Mobile apps allow grocery shoppers to place their orders on the fly and track them conveniently. Moreover, insights from the research pointed out that modern grocery shoppers have come to embrace technology and are comfortable with using retailers’ apps and sharing their live location to facilitate on-time order pickup (see charts 19, 20, and 21)

Therefore, building a robust mobile app should be a key priority in your product roadmap to provide another avenue for customers to shop from, streamline the pickup process, and deliver an integrated shopping experience. 

Step 9: Focus on Delivering Unparalleled Customer Experiences

One of the key takeaways from volume 3 of the Omnichannel Shopper Behavior 2022 report was that the quality of shopping experiences can make or break customer satisfaction ratings, net promoter scores, and future buying behavior (see charts 18, 31, 32, and 33). Grocery customers really value positive experiences and are likely to share them with multiple friends and family, adding to your word-of-mouth marketing efforts.

On the other hand, even negative experiences are shared with friends and family, making it harder for retailers to reverse the impact of the poor impression. Therefore, improving the quality of overall customer experiences, across channels and fulfillment methods, should have a key spot in your priority list. 

By following the above 9 steps, grocery retailers can transform their engagement, shopping, and fulfillment experiences to meet consumer demand and expectations head-on and stay miles ahead of any changes and evolutions that the industry might experience in the coming months. Now, let’s quickly summarize what we’ve learnt so far.

Headshot of Mark Fairhurst

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