2017 was a big year in grocery. Amazon bought Whole Foods, Instacart saw major growth through new partners like Kroger and Albertsons, and Target agreed to purchase Shipt for $550 million.
While major industry players made noticeable moves into digital, consumers welcomed the shift with open arms. Twenty-two percent of US consumers reported to have grocery shopped online at least once in 2017, according to Unata’s 2018 eGrocery Forecast Report. Not only that, but 85% of those consumers shopped for groceries online more than once. The appetite for online grocery shopping is growing, and fast.
With all of this change taking place, small to mid sized retailers are left pondering the importance of their traditional brick & mortar stores, the value of an online offering and if investing in eCommerce will cannibalize their in-store sales.
The short answers are, in order: very important, very valuable and no, it won’t.
While many consumers turned to online for their groceries in 2017, 96% of those online grocery shoppers still visited their local grocery store once a month or more in 2017, and 62% visited it once a week or more. Today’s shopper values the option to either shop online or go in-store, depending on their busy, ever changing schedules. In other words, eCommerce and in-store are, in fact, not mutually exclusive.
We’ve seen further proof of this through Unata’s network of retail partners, with eCommerce shoppers already spending about twice the average in-store basket than non eCommerce shoppers. Not only that, but after they’ve adopted eCommerce, their subsequent in-store orders increased in spend by 9.3%, making it abundantly clear that the omni-channel shopper is a grocer’s most valuable shopper.
Major players in the grocery space have already realized the value of the omni-channel shopper and are going to great lengths to ensure they are catering to this type of consumer. Aldi and Hy-Vee, both with a strong eCom offering, are investing in their physical footprint by remodelling stores and offering in-store restaurants. Amazon is expanding its physical footprint with AmazonFresh Pickup, checkout-less stores and the acquisition of Whole Foods. National discount stores like Walmart and Target, with established in-store experiences, are investing millions into their online and click and collect offerings.
Knowing all of this, it’s in the best financial interest of small to mid-sized grocers that already have an eCommerce or digital offering to ensure their digital and in-store experiences are properly connected so that they are not only catering to and retaining the omni-channel shopper, but also competing in an increasingly competitive grocery industry. Here are three ways to do so:
1) Ensure your online experience is simple and personalized. The primary reason that shoppers turn to online for groceries is to save time. If they visit a grocer’s website and can’t find the products they are looking for, or find the experience frustrating in any way, they’ll quickly turn to one of the many online grocery alternatives available. In fact, 76% of online shoppers have said that they will go elsewhere for a better, more convenient, easy and enjoyable digital experience.
The first and most important way to provide convenience is through 1-to-1 personalization. Grocers should be using the years of data they’ve collected with their loyalty programs to serve up relevant products, recommendations and offers based on what shoppers have bought before. This will help shoppers navigate a catalogue of tens of thousands of products in the least amount of time possible.
There are plenty of other tips and tricks to optimize the navigation experience, like filters, search principles, a pain-free sign-up experience, and much more. We’ve compiled ten of those tips here.
2) Leverage digital to enhance the in-store experience. Ninety-six percent of your online shoppers will continue to shop in your store, and they will expect a similar ease and level of personalization as your online experience. That’s why it is critical to find ways to use digital to optimize and personalize the in-store experience, such as:
- Make the in-store experience faster by organizing your shoppers’ lists by aisle so they can navigate through your store faster, or investing in technologies that will help speed up the checkout experience.
- Personalize and increase the efficiency of the in-store experience by sending 1-to-1 offers, suggestions and tips via email or text notifications as shoppers enter your stores.
- Encourage in-store exploration with beacons that unlock relevant new deals, meal ideas and more products for shoppers while they are in your aisles.
3) Integrate online and in-store. The omni-channel shopper likes to move between online and in-store, choosing the channel that best suits their schedule that day. Make sure your digital experience supports that, by giving shoppers the option to make an in-store list, build a cart for delivery or build a cart for curbside pickup, and have the entire digital experience, including pricing, products, CTA buttons and more, automatically tailored to their choice.
If they change their mind and want to move from a list to cart, or vice versa, they should be able to do so with the click of the button and have their product selection maintained. If there are any discrepancies in product or offer availability between the different shopping modes, the shopper should be notified right away so that there are no surprises when they checkout.
Your most valuable shopper is the omni-channel shopper. By creating a convenient experience within each of your channels, and making it really easy for your shoppers to move between channels at any time, you’ll capture the hearts and wallets of this very lucrative customer.
Alexis Clarfield-Henry is the Director of Marketing at Unata, the leading provider of 1-to-1 digital solutions for grocers. To discover the secrets to a true omni-channel grocery shopping experience, download Unata’s eBook today.