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David Bishop from Brick Meets Click on Grocery Pandemic Trends

David Bishop from Brick Meets Click on Grocery Pandemic Trends
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Mercatus Radio presents the Digital Grocer - Season 3, Episode 13

Join us on Tuesday June 16, 2020 for a webinar where we’ll share insights and takeaways with David Bishop from Brick Meets Click on Grocery Pandemic Trends.

In our season finale, we’re joined by David Bishop from Brick Meets Click to talk about grocery pandemic trends in eCommerce. Central to our discussion are the findings from the May 2020 Brick Meets Click/Mercatus shopper survey. With online grocery sales growing 23% from April to May, reaching a record $6.6B in sales, it’s clear that adoption of grocery eCommerce is here to stay.

Sylvain and Mark start by considering the significant events impacting the US, and the world, these past few months, weeks and days.

With the immense shift that COVID has brought to the retail industry, Sylvain notes the importance of investing in digital commerce.

”When you think of the pandemic, retailers that rely on the exploration aspect of people coming into their stores, if they’re not reinventing themselves, it’s going to be a challenge.”

As shoppers continue to make more purchases online, David notes the household penetration of grocery eCommerce since COVID: a staggering 33%, at 43 million households across the US.

So where should retailers invest to increase eCommerce adoption? David suggests curbside grocery pickup.

“When we get into delivery, it tends to skew toward older consumers or wealthier consumers. The pickup tends to skew towards the lower income households, and that has implications for what we’re now dealing with. And one more reason why we believe pickup is going to see a second surge from what we saw a year ago, as we deal with the financial calamity that is coming out of this health crisis.”

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Sylvain Perrier: Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the Mercatus podcast Digital Grocer, episode 36, the end of season three. I’m your host, Sylvain Perrier, President and CEO of Mercatus technologies, and connected with me in my home studio from the safety of his bunker, I guess I would say his bat lair, is Mark Fairhurst, Vice President of Marketing. Mark, thank you for joining me.

Mark Fairhurst: It’s a pleasure as usual. And I’ve got an upgrade from a bunker to a bat cave.

Sylvain Perrier: Well, you did upgrade. You got some new equipment.

Mark Fairhurst: True.

Sylvain Perrier: You’re utilizing that old love seat, I see, in the corner.

Mark Fairhurst: Yeah, that thing’s like circa 1987.

Sylvain Perrier: Oh God, dude. The memories in that loveseat.

Mark Fairhurst: Teenage memories. Won’t see the light of day.

Sylvain Perrier: Well, good. Have you checked for a spare change? No.

Mark Fairhurst: Of course.

Sylvain Perrier: No. Okay. Good. Well, you know, you never know, right? Now, so Mark, during the last week in the US we’re facing something appalling and disgusting and it’s not COVID-19. It’s the unfortunate death of George Floyd at the hands of a corrupt police officer. And I got to tell you that incident has prompted a tremendous outrage across the country and thousands, if not millions, have taken to the streets.

Sylvain Perrier: And quite frankly, not in Minneapolis, you and I were talking about this on Friday and Saturday, but it’s across the U.S., Chicago; New York; Los Angeles; Charlotte, North Carolina; Atlanta; L.A. And it’s not only in the U.S. It’s in Canada. We had protests in Montreal, I think even Halifax, Nova Scotia; Vancouver; and Toronto, and many of the protests have been, to a certain extent, peaceful. Some have turned violent with police clashes, burning buildings and looting. I think Target’s bearing the brunt in Minneapolis, I got to tell you. And one of the things that was really scary on Saturday night, it must’ve been around 10 o’clock Eastern. I was watching and I tend to jump between BBC, CNN, Fox.

Sylvain Perrier: I try to get all the outlets. I don’t necessarily prescribe only to one. And I was going over on Vice Media. And they were showing something that really freaked me out. There was a shop owner in the west end of Dallas, and it’s predominantly a Black community. And he was running with a machete in his hands, towards his shop to try to protect it. Now, I wouldn’t recommend running with a machete in your hands. And quite frankly, I wouldn’t recommend anyone running with scissors in their hands. But this gentleman in question, they started pelting him with rocks and hit him in the back of the head with a skateboard, and he just went down.

Mark Fairhurst: That’s terrible.

Sylvain Perrier: And they were kicking him. And that’s like, I mean, the level of violence, I’m not talking about somebody taking spray paint and tagging the side of a building or doing anything like that. They’re, literally, trying to kill someone and these protests have been focused on policing. And 2020 has been brutal and especially painful for a lot of the minorities in the U.S. and in Canada. And just the whole economical turmoil that’s been brought on by the staying at home has hit these minorities because the reality is they weren’t financially stable going into the pandemic and the angst, and the fear of dying, and you’re stuck in, and you see the violence that’s being caused. It’s just, it’s a powder keg. It just blew up. And systematic racism is a problem in our country. It’s not only in the U.S. It is here in Canada. We see it here with the Asian minorities. We see it with the people from the islands and it needs to stop. And we need to change this as a collective. We can’t just depend on our governments to do something about it. It starts in our homes. It starts in our communities.

Mark Fairhurst: Absolutely. And the point you raised, it’s something I was reading this morning. This doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a gradual process that society gets to this point. But it just seems in the last three, four years, it’s just become ever so more heightened that it just takes a trigger event, like the unfortunate death of George Floyd, to spark the anger that’s been building for many years.

Sylvain Perrier: Yeah. And if it’s not George Floyd, it’s Trayvon, it’s someone else, and I can go on a bit this, because if it’s not them, it’s someone else. And if it’s not that it’s a school shooting. And at what point… What’s the saying, repetition is the definition of insanity, and if you’re getting the same result, come on guys.

Mark Fairhurst: Yeah.

Sylvain Perrier: No. So while all this is happening, the country is still dealing with a pandemic and, things are slowly starting to open, but it’s clear COVID-19 is going to have a lasting impact on retail. For a brief period, On May 6, we saw Shopify become Canada’s most valuable company surpassing the Royal Bank of Canada. And the shares on the TSX market, was it over $1,000 Canadian?

Mark Fairhurst: Yep.

Sylvain Perrier: It’s crazy. And the mantra that they have at Shopify is to help the SMBs survive with what they like to call “the new normal.” And on May 19th, they had an explosive announcement. They actually announced the deal at Facebook and launched Facebook Shops.

Mark Fairhurst: And that’s what we want. We had actually talked about this. And I think was it our first or second episode of the Digital Grocer?

Sylvain Perrier: We talked about that with, I think our guests at the time was Brittan Ladd, and we were waxing philosophically to the question of what could Facebook eventually become, quote unquote, this “portal to e-commerce” and fast forward. I think that episode was recorded in what, 2018, maybe early…

Mark Fairhurst: Spring of 2018, I believe.

Sylvain Perrier: Yeah, Spring of 2018, and fast forward, and now what we’re seeing is the true emergence of social commerce. Now, I got to think if you’re at Target, riots aside, and Amazon, you’re going to respond to this. I would assume, at some point, but now, so because of COVID-19, brick and mortar retail will no longer be the same. I got to think even more so if a second wave is going to hit. You know what I mean by this is that I’m talking about size, the rapid commoditization of products, and where people are just going in to purchase these products. The idea of assortment, the layout of the stores and, the whole queuing process. I’m, I don’t know, Mark. I know that you and I enjoy a fine red wine, but I’m already starting to see this at the LCBO. For people who don’t know what the LCBO is, it’s the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. It’s actually the largest purchaser of spirits in the world.

Sylvain Perrier: You queue outside, they’ve made changes to the layout of the store, into the planogram process. You’d go in, you buy, and you pay, and you leave, and it’s become extremely frictionless to a certain extent, which is kind of interesting. And I think the retailers that are going to win in this new normal are the ones that have historically invested in planogram management, queue busting. I think they’ll come out on top, but I think what’s really going to change is consumers’ psyche. Now I’m a destination shopper. What does that mean is, I know brands that I like. I know where to buy them. If it’s not online, I go straight to the store. I’m in, I’m out. Are you the same, Mark?

Mark Fairhurst: I used to be. And of the late I’ve shifted all my purchases to online. I never liked going to the mall or to the retail brick and mortar to begin with.

Sylvain Perrier: Right.

Mark Fairhurst: But I was very much, I knew exactly what I was getting. I went in, got it, got out fast.

Sylvain Perrier: And where’s your share of wallet gone to now?

Mark Fairhurst: On apparel. I’m trying new brands. So it’s a good, it’s a good time to, if you’re a brand that’s looking to clean up and get other consumers. I think now’s a good time to sort of disintermediate that relationship with the more established brands. The only brick and mortar that I still visit is grocery.

Sylvain Perrier: Right. What about Home Depot?

Mark Fairhurst: Home Depot? I purchased my barbecue online. Normally, I would have gone in to look at the various models.

Sylvain Perrier: Right.

Mark Fairhurst: But it was a great experience.

Sylvain Perrier: And so you did click and collect?

Mark Fairhurst: I ordered it Sunday night, got it Monday morning.

Sylvain Perrier: Good for you. I mean, I just recently tried their click and collect solution. I’m rebuilding a fence and it’s been two weeks now. I’m still waiting for my items to give me the thumbs up to go to the store, to go pick them up.

Mark Fairhurst: Really?

Sylvain Perrier: A lot of it I think has to do with the unfortunate volume of transactions they’re getting and the staffing and so on. But the reality is when you think of the pandemic, retailers that rely on the exploration aspect of people coming into their stores, if they’re not reinventing themselves, it’s going to be a challenge. And there’s one retailer that whole idea of exploration, especially for apparel, that they’re not really good at is Amazon.

Sylvain Perrier: And Steve Dennis talks about this in his book, Remarkable Retail. And we had Steve on a show, I think two or three episodes ago. Amazon has made buying easy and has put convenience at the top of their list. And unfortunately that’s sacrificed the idea of shopping and browsing. And this is true when you try to buy a t-shirt, a dress shirt. I tried to buy, get this, deck shoes and swimming trunks. I mean, I say swimming trunks, I feel like I’m my grandfather and this is 1920 swimming trunks. It’s like a big one piece. Not really, but I just want to buy because it’s more comfortable because it got over 90 degrees north of Toronto and you just want to be comfortable when you go outside, but it wasn’t a great experience to try to buy it on Amazon.

Sylvain Perrier: Now there’s some rumors swirling in the market. I want to set the stage because I think this is really interesting. So in early may, JCPenney filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Now this wasn’t a surprise, it’s covered in Steve’s book, and you kind of get a sense of it because Shawn Gensch, the former Chief Customer Officer, departed in February. And you know, most people would know Shawn from his days as CMO over at Sprouts Farmers Market. Now the pandemic, unfortunately, put that last nail in the coffin for JCPenney and they’re in a virtual race culminating sometime in mid to end of July to try to raise capital, to try to restructure now. So what’s of value at JCPenney is their real estate holdings. I think they have something like 846 locations. They own roughly 387 of them. And the remaining are all leased, but the pandemic is not helping the value of their real estate portfolio.

Sylvain Perrier: So the longer they stay closed, it’s actually just going to drag down the value of that portfolio. They closed, I think, close to 30% and they have 4 billion in debt to restructure, which is insane. And so the big rumor is that Amazon has boots on the ground in Plano, Texas at JCPenney’s office. And they’re interested in acquiring the organization.

Mark Fairhurst: Well, you think they’re going to cherry pick certain locations?

Sylvain Perrier: So I’m not sure if in the world of Amazon, if the prospect of buying a real estate portfolio that has X amount of value and five distribution centers, although I think JCPenney actually does not own their distribution centers. They may be actually owned, or they may be just leased. I think what they’re trying to get is to become more fashion forward and their CEO, the CEO of JCPenney, she built out an amazing team.

Sylvain Perrier: They actually have a bit of a cult following for some of the brands that they own on the private label side. And I think bringing that knowledge into Amazon would be a great value and convert that JCPenney to 100% online and just jettison the portfolio whatsoever.

Mark Fairhurst: Interesting.

Sylvain Perrier: So I don’t know. I think if you’re Amazon, the one thing they’ve not conquered is the soft lines. And I think this may be the way to do it. I mean, wasn’t it last night, you and I talked about why not Neiman Marcus?

Mark Fairhurst: Yep, yep. That, I think, it was Scott Galloway that raised that idea.

Sylvain Perrier: Yeah. I’m not sure if Neiman Marcus would fit into the whole Amazon portfolio. It’s a fairly high end brand.

Mark Fairhurst: Yep. Yeah. I think the notion was that because it is high end that it would be a niche play for Prime, but…

Sylvain Perrier: It’d be too niche of play for Prime.

Mark Fairhurst: Too niche. Too rich.

Sylvain Perrier: Too rich, I think, I don’t know. I don’t know. He may be right. Maybe Walmart should be acquiring JCPenney, the private label brands and blending into the whole, the whole George private label solution. But anyways, we’re going to see how this plays out. Now, it goes without saying, we’ve talked about a lot of things, and to one extent, this pandemic has had a tremendous impact in the grocery retail industry, especially with their surge in online sales, not only with the Mercatus customers, but industry-wide because of our podcasts, because a lot of the research that we do, and the friends that we have in this space, we get a lot of data coming in from multiple points. Now, and to lend credence to this topic, and to remove any potential anecdotal elements, we decided to ask David Bishop, Partner at Brick Meets Click to discuss a research piece that he recently published.

Sylvain Perrier: Now, for those of you who might not know the organization, the company was founded in 2011, and is essentially a collection of some really smart people that leveraged their extensive expertise in the grocery business analytics and they have this demonstrated sense of what’s next and they help food retailers and marketers meet the challenge of new competition and navigate these profound changes that we’re seeing from the results of disruption. Now, joining us on the phone from the U.S. Hopefully, from the safety of his home is David Bishop, Partner at Brick Meets Click and as a Partner, David manages the research and retailer benchmarking programs. He has deep knowledge of the convenience and grocery classes of trade across both digital and physical sales. In addition to his role at the organization, he’s actually the Managing Partner of Balvor, a firm that specializes in convenience retail and provides category management, trade-marketing, analytic services to numerous organizations. He has a BA in Organizational Communications and Marketing from the University of Iowa. David, welcome to our podcast.

David Bishop: Thank you for having me on. It’s a pleasure.

Sylvain Perrier: Thank you. So can you share with us the survey methodology?

David Bishop: Sure. So we’ve been looking at, essentially, stepping back, Brick Meets Click really operates under a very simple principle, and that is understanding how technology is enhancing the way we shop and specifically for groceries. So around 2011, we started doing that primarily with retail clients. And it was really around the communications tools that retailers were using to build those relationships, whether it was social, text, web, most of the digital tools.

David Bishop: It was in 2016, roughly, that we moved over to looking at commerce or what we more generally referred to as online. And as we do that, there’s a combination of tools that we use. But relative to the research we just published, we utilize an online survey panel of households in the U.S. Talk to the primary shoppers who do the grocery shopping for their house. We look at their total spend in aggregate as well as the portion that may go online if they do shop online.

David Bishop: And then we dig into that, relative to purchase recency, to understand their habits. We look more closely at the past 30 days in terms of where they bought online, how much they’ve spent online, and how many times they’ve shopped with those providers online. And then we dig even deeper into the most recent experience to look at the satisfaction and the likelihood to repeat. We use all that information for a variety of purposes, size the market, inform our market forecast models and to provide guidance to the industry.

Sylvain Perrier: And David, can you give me a sense of sample size?

David Bishop: Sure. Right now we’re running between 1600 and 1700 respondents to the monthly survey.

Sylvain Perrier: And that’s geographically spread across the U.S.?

David Bishop: Geographically represented and weighted based on age.

Sylvain Perrier: Perfect. Now, this number blew me away. So online grocery growth continued across the pandemic reaching $6.6 billion, U.S. dollars for the month of May alone. So what was the average spend?

David Bishop: The average spend, according to that work, was $90. Just so that we put that in reference, that average spend is a reflection of, especially, in conventional grocers. So Whole Foods would be included. It would also include our mass discounters. So Target and Walmart, specifically, in only the portion related to grocery related products. And then also it would include our pure play online grocery delivery providers, folks like Fresh Direct.

Sylvain Perrier: So there’s always these numbers that are published out there. And I think the one that I always quote the most is the one that was sent out by, I think it was FMI saying that 2025, we’re going to hit $100 billion in online grocery sales. We must be on our way to hitting that number sooner and faster. Is that your sense?

David Bishop: Well, I would say, obviously, that’s still an aggressive number and would I like us to hit $100 million sooner rather than later? I think it’s a tough question to answer because if I say yes, unfortunately, I’m going to be rooting for some of the crisis that got us to where we are. So, you know what I’d rather see as a stabilization and a return to something we would call as the new norm.

Sylvain Perrier: Yeah, I would agree. I would agree. Now, if we compare the main numbers to the previous month, what were the online sales for April?

David Bishop: So the online sales for April we’re $5.3 billion. So we had essentially a month over month increase of 24, 25%. So in normal times that would be impressive. What we would have typically seen on a year over year basis in 2019, if we looked at 2018 versus 2019, we’d see that type of rate on an annualized basis of whether we’re looking at orders or dollar sales to see it on a month over month basis is also unprecedented.

Sylvain Perrier: And what was the increase for the average spend from April to May? Or was there an increase?

David Bishop: Yeah, it increased, I think about 6 or 7%. A healthy increase of about $5. So we would’ve seen an average order value of $85 in April and then ended up at $90 for May. So we continue to see people adding items to their cart. It’s also a reflection of the fact that we did have rapid price inflation during May, that’s reflected in there. And it’s also a reflection that improved product availability is preventing fewer lost sales for the retailer.

Sylvain Perrier: Yeah. Good point. And household penetration rate gave me a sense of, are we talking something more than 20%?

David Bishop: Yeah. We’re at 33% according to our estimates, and that’s 33% of all U.S. Households. Now, keep in mind only about 90% of us households actually use the internet. So that 33% actually accounts for that.

Sylvain Perrier: Okay.

David Bishop: And again, that’s roughly 43 million households in the U.S. that we would consider monthly active grocery shoppers, that is having placed at least one order online for either delivery or pickup within the last 30 days.

Sylvain Perrier: And any sense out of that 33%, does your research talk about how many of those are potentially exclusively using online shopping for groceries?

David Bishop: Yeah, I think most grocers recognize that the vast majority of trips to the traditional store would have been classified as quick trips, those involving one or five items. So it’s a little unusual and unfair to look at it specifically as a percentage of share of wallet. So if we looked at the households who reported that they were spending during the past 30 days, 80% or more, we would be roughly at 30% of those households that were actively online.

David Bishop: So that would translate to roughly 13% of all us households were purchasing more than 80% of their grocery dollars online, for products online.

Sylvain Perrier: Yeah, that’s interesting. The one phenomenon that we noticed at Mercatus is the number of first-time users skyrocketed. Even people that had not yet signed up for any of our retailers’ loyalty programs. And I think in one day, maybe for two retailers, we had over 35,000 new people create accounts and immediately enter the online shopping stream. Did you get a sense of that, that there’s this increased came from people who are just net new to the experience?

David Bishop: Yeah. So when we consider net new, we’re looking at the past 30 days, even though we can trace back when they purchased, if ever, online, but of that 43 million households over half of them would have been considered net new during the past 30 day activity. So they may have been online before, let’s say three, four months ago, but that most likely would have been online buying for ship to home.

David Bishop: So we would say, well over half of the active customers who are shopping online today, or at least in May, would have been, essentially, net new if we wanted to use that terminology.

Sylvain Perrier: Okay. And then one thing we noticed is, again, I can’t give you a figure, but I suspect you have one is, when I look at our star ratings for some of the mobile applications that we’ve created, the star ratings have plummeted. And when we read the comments, a lot of the comments are not having to do with the mobile app itself. It’s having to do with product availability inside some of the stores, product availability online, cleanliness of the stores, the fact of having to wait on the lineup to get an online slot for pickup or delivery. And so people find the closest vehicle that they can use to lodge a complaint. So our sense is that to a certain extent, satisfaction has gone down. Have you been able to measure and to get a sense of that number?

David Bishop: Yeah. So before the COVID crisis, we were on an annual cadence where our last similar type of research was done in August of 2019. So we’re using that as our proxy for pre-COVID, if you will. And back then, whether we were looking at the mass discounters or supermarkets, the satisfactions were considerably higher. They probably would have been in the high 80s relative to intent to reuse the same service within the next 30 days. Well, as soon as we hit March, those things just fell off the table. I mean, essentially half. And a lot of people wondered why. Well, I think you hit some of the basic reasons.

David Bishop: I mean, if we think about omnichannel strategies, which we measure in the form of a seamless shopping scorecard, if people can’t shop how they want, which is I want to shop online, and they’re being frozen out, essentially because they can’t get a slot, then that’s going to have a detrimental impact on any experience. If they can’t buy what they want because of rampant out of stocks, which went eight to nine times over the historical average and still is probably to three times over it, that’s going to weigh on it. And then when you can’t get it when you want, you think, “Oh, I’ll take one hour. I’ll take next day.” You’re finding it’s four or five days, or it’s being canceled, to your surprise, then that’s also going to weigh on it. So when we look at those causal factors, it’s pretty clear. And in looking at reviews and ratings, that customers just don’t necessarily expect those types of disruptions to the way they shop and in an emergency state like we are, they’re not acceptable, and retailers understand that, and that’s just a function of the times that we’re in.

Sylvain Perrier: And are you seeing a difference between preferences on fulfillment? Were consumers, “Hey, I want super frictionless. I want delivery.” Or, quite frankly, “I’m okay to pick it up.” Were you able to pick up on those?

David Bishop: Yeah. And you know, we’ve been watching this pretty closely. In fact, probably at the end of 2018, and we published at the beginning of 2018. We had already seen the strong preferences for the way people want to shop online. So one of the things we pointed out early on, about two years ago was the growth of pickup. And this was at a time when everyone was adding delivery because of how the business was growing. We saw very little crossover between households that use delivery and pickup. And that was even more amplified if we looked at a specific retailer’s transactional household data. We see that overall, even across channels, although there is more overlap, but that’s different.

David Bishop: But when we get into delivery, it tends to skew toward older consumers or wealthier consumers. The pickup tends to skew towards the lower income households. And that has implications for what we’re now dealing with. And one more reason why we believe pickup is going to see a second surge from what we saw a year ago, as we deal with the financial calamities coming out of this health crisis.

Sylvain Perrier: Especially with that. And we’re seeing now the SNAP EBT program being extended to north of 38 states, where, historically, it was only four states. We’ve seen the Department of Agriculture actually increase their program from close to something like $50 billion to north of $74 billion. And that’s likely going to increase, the unemployment rate is north of 15%. Yeah. It’s pretty intense what’s happening. Do you think, what’s the stickiness in terms of online ordering, are these consumers that have entered the stream now for their first time, are they likely to remain or will they readjust to something that will be the post-normal to their current normal?

David Bishop: Yeah, I think without question, we’re in a very unusual, atypical situation that isn’t going to continue as is. And when some of those motivators relax, so will the online behaviors. What I’m talking about specifically there is the concern for catching Coronavirus has been a very strong predictor of using online as a mode for how I shop. If we think about a binary choice, whether it’s in store or online, those who are trying to practice the social distancing principles or mitigate the concerns they have. Shopping online for pickup or delivery would have that appeal. It’s not the only appeal. And unfortunately the fact that now 50 million households in the U.S., according to our survey have reported a dramatic drop in income that is 25% or more, anyone who has a high degree of concern is going to be forced to make other choices relative to how they shop, where they shop, and what they buy when they shop. And we’re seeing all that play out, both in our survey, as well as other information out there.

Sylvain Perrier: Interesting. And the one thing that we’ve noticed in our research around the whole demographical spectrum is that it, historically, maybe as of, call it late 2019, the distribution was fairly equal across the age groups. And we had noticed that Gen X, the boomers, have caught up to buying online. And I’m kind of curious, have you seen that shift during the pandemic?

David Bishop: Well, the demographics, if we look at it from an early formation stage have been without question, the strongest age cohort. Life events are what drives adoption faster than the positive word of mouth, which would be the diffusion of the experience. And that would be a birth of a child, a marriage, generally, we’re dealing with households with one or multiple incomes.

David Bishop: I think the older consumers are catching up and that’s a function of the positive word of mouth that has been shared by friends and family that they respect and trust. Obviously, at this time we’ve seen a huge uptick on the older consumers, over 65, who are in a more affected and impacted class. Unfortunately, they’re the least able to utilize this solution for technological reasons. And I’ve documented that with my own mother on that. And she’s already now back in the stores after three home deliveries that she received from her preferred grocery store.

Sylvain Perrier: Yeah. I like the fact that you’ve shared that example because it supports an experience I had, it must’ve been two, three weeks ago. I, actually, sat in on a call with our help desk where they were helping an 82 year-old man putting his credit card information to buy his first online grocery order. And I went to the back of, we know it’s before we closed the office, and I have to go to the back and get some of our user interface engineers to have them listen in to the call to say, “Hey guys, I know we don’t build websites, I think no one really does, for someone above the age of 75 to plus. And so how do we create this environment, this experience that makes it easier?” And maybe it’s not web technology. Maybe it’s not mobile technology. Maybe it’s a dial in. Maybe it’s a phone call. There’s got to be something easier that we can do.

David Bishop: Well, the funny thing about ours was, I videotaped it. I wrote a blog about it, and I told her, prefaced it, that I would only intervene to prevent her from abandoning the process. So there was about eight or nine, what I called speed bumps in that, but at the very end, she put in her credit card information, no problem. But then it asked for a mobile phone and her response was, I don’t have a mobile phone and I did respond. She does, she just never has it on. And I had to put my mobile phone in. So needless to say, every time there was an update from the provider, I was receiving it, and then I had to call her. But that was just one example amongst many of what do you do if you don’t have a mobile phone? How do you actually complete that transaction? And would it cancel if it wasn’t a mobile phone? I don’t know the answer to that, but clearly an opportunity and the challenge for a subset of the population.

Sylvain Perrier: Well, that’s a great example. I appreciate you sharing that with us. For our retailers that are listening, and they’re listening to you talk about your research and its findings. Are you seeing anything in there that they should be mindful of?

David Bishop: Well, natural instinct is to take care of the customer today. I mean, defending the base businesses is the first need that every retailer has even above profits. And we’re seeing that today. Same thing with differentiation. But, at the same time, I say that, we can’t miss an opportunity that comes out of this crisis to strengthen the strategies that we’re developing and deploying. And this really does bring to light many issues that retailers haven’t had to face as acutely as they had to today. And as it starts to alleviate it, it actually kind of mutes some of the desires for, actually, having to have a sound strategy because everyone’s business is growing, right?

Sylvain Perrier: No, absolutely. And so we have a webinar coming up. Can you share with the audience?

David Bishop: Yeah. So each month we take the opportunity to present some of the, what we like to think, are fresh insights in a very kind of informal format. And I believe you and I are going to be on there with Bill. Who’s going to be moderating. That’s going to be on Tuesday, June 16th at 1:00 Central, 2:00 PM Eastern. And, really, it’s designed to also provide practical guidance in perspectives from what we are seeing and hearing from the retailers. And so I think, getting your perspective with your retailers would be a great add to the perspective and insights that we’re gaining from both this survey, as well as our work with retailers too.

Sylvain Perrier: Absolutely. Now, David, it’s been great having you on the show today. How do people get ahold of you?

David Bishop: Easiest way, I guess would be via email. That would be [email protected].

Sylvain Perrier: Perfect. And Mark, it’s great seeing you, you look healthy.

Mark Fairhurst: That’s because I boosted the saturation on the camera.

Sylvain Perrier: Oh, and here I thought that was a tan.

Mark Fairhurst: No, no.

Sylvain Perrier: Okay. Well that’s okay. And how do get ahold of…

Mark Fairhurst: Get ahold of us?

Sylvain Perrier: I always ask you this question.

Mark Fairhurst: I know, I know, mercatus.com is our URL, our web address. All of our social channels are listed there. The podcast that we just recorded will also be there and we’ll have a handy link to register for the webinar on June 16.

Sylvain Perrier: Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. And ladies and gentlemen, thank you for listening. And don’t forget to download and listen to our next episode. I think we’re going to have a really great kickoff to season four. We’re going to be tackling more subjects that are related to the pandemic and what could be the new normal and help you guys navigate the waters of grocery e-commerce. Thank you everyone. Peace.



David Bishop

David Bishop

David leads Brick Meets Click’s consumer research, retailer benchmarking, and market forecasting programs while also working closely with grocers to improve results flowing from their omnichannel strategies.

Sylvain Perrier

Sylvain is president and CEO of Mercatus Technologies, and the driving force behind the leading digital commerce platform in grocery retail today.

Mark Fairhurst

As Vice President of Marketing at Mercatus, Mark is responsible for leading the overall market strategy development, planning and execution to support Mercatus' multi-year revenue growth and customer acquisition and retention objectives.