When it comes to grocery and e-commerce, the scene is changing and it’s changing fast. According to Mercatus’s recent survey of the grocery digital landscape, 70% of grocery e-commerce shoppers have shopped online for less than two years, and 45% shopped online for the first time within the past year. Despite most online grocery shoppers being recent entrants, they still make a significant impact. In fact, grocers who went from a minimalist e-commerce solution to a fully considered, robust digital offering—by adding personalized flyers, recommendations and search—saw a 12% increase in overall sales.
So how exactly can grocers build a digital presence that creates value and increases bottom-line profitability?
1. Consider the entire shopper experience
First, it is essential to solve problems that surround the experience of shopping, not just shopping itself. For example, helping customers build shopping lists, offering personalized deals, providing cooking tips and allowing those who ordered online to skip the line are all experiences that bring joy to digital shoppers and drive brand loyalty.
As grocers begin to build these experiences, it's important to remember to pull everything into one seamless journey; if it takes eight apps to get it all done, it’s not convenient.
2. Use digital to offload the unenjoyable aspects of shopping
Many people still enjoy going to the store to shop, particularly at regional grocery stores that offer fun experiences like in-store cooking demos. But the fact is, e-commerce is on the rise; online grocery sales are growing by 75% year over year.
The benefit to shopping online is that it allows shoppers to offload some of the less enjoyable aspects of shopping, such as figuring out what is on sale, comparing prices and finding relevant promotional coupons. By using digital offerings to reduce the unenjoyable parts, grocers can increase their opportunities to delight shoppers both online and in store.
3. Bring your local store to every shopper’s home
The goal of e-commerce is not to drive all in-store business online. Digital marketing should support, not compete with, in-store experiences. A well-designed e-commerce approach allows grocers to create a brand extension in their shoppers’ homes.
Fortunately, regional grocers have the benefit of truly understanding their customers and can ensure the mix of digital and in-store is just right. Ironically, digital technology gives grocery stores the opportunity to return to its roots; grocers can be the trusted solution through the entire shopper journey. Being the local hub where customers can choose to shop in-person or get their items delivered from their trusted merchant provides shoppers the ultimate convenience, ensuring regional grocers thrive for years to come.
4. Ensure you keep your shoppers as you seek out partners
Since digital technology may not be on their list of core competencies, many grocers seek out a partner to help expand its offerings. When selecting a partner, grocers should make sure it helps their relationship with shoppers grow stronger, not weaker.
Regional grocers who have found success have done so by building a trusted reputation with their local community. As a result, they should select a partner that enables them to own the customer relationship in their e-commerce offering, particularly as it pertains to customer data and customer experience.
Create a strong digital experience and reap the rewards
Demand for digital convenience is here and those who feed the rising hunger see real growth. One grocer Mercatus surveyed saw a 15% increase in overall weekly shopping revenue and 7% increase in shopping trips when they followed these steps and delivered an online experience that builds brand loyalty.
By improving their digital experiences, grocers can build more lasting relationships with customers, engage shoppers throughout channels and secure sales as competition rises.
-Sylvain Perrier, president and CEO, Mercatus