By 2022, more than half (51.3%) of the U.S. population will be digital grocery buyers. While a challenge of epic proportions, the pandemic did give retail grocery the push it needed to make e-commerce a top priority. Today, even though shoppers are starting to head back into the store, online grocery shopping is here to stay — with eMarketer predicting it will push past $100 billion in spending for the first time this year. Incredible.
For most retailers, their in-store experience and their online presence can be drastically different. However, today’s shopper doesn’t distinguish between the two. In fact, customers expect the in-store and online experience to merge seamlessly for speed and convenience — that’s the customer experience they want and demand. Gartner reported that 64 percent of people rank customer experience more important than price when it comes to making a purchase. For example, just think about what shoppers are willing to pay for one-hour grocery delivery. E-commerce can bridge that gap and help retailers, and their CPG partners better meet shoppers’ desire for a better experience, no matter how or where they’re shopping.
eMarketer also predicts the growth of online grocery sales will be driven by higher spending per buyer. They estimate annual spending per buyer will exceed $1,000 by 2023. The rapidly expanding online and mobile ecosystem requires companies to reconsider, restructure, repurpose, and reinvent how they sell products, manage operations, offer payment solutions, and engage consumers. To accomplish these changes, we believe the future begins and ends with convergence, which will allow retailers and CPGs to provide better, more consistent, more relevant and personalized experiences — which will drive loyalty and net better ROAS.
The most effective e-commerce platform should seamlessly integrate with solutions for programmatic and intelligent in-store media, incentives, loyalty, and payments. This integration provides a holistic view of your consumer — in-store, online and mobile — helping you deliver a personalized experience at every interaction. Retailers who use data to pivot quickly and react to shoppers’ changing needs are going to win their coveted loyalty. This requires a promotions program that can instantly be adjusted and adapted. It also requires a payment gateway that can help retailers target and activate their unidentified shoppers in new meaningful ways.
According to Google, 40 percent of shoppers are likely to spend more than planned when the shopping experience is highly personalized. And, with the majority of sales still done in-store, that means retailers and CPGs have to layer off-site and on-site messaging tactics to build clear, convincing and cohesive value messages. One-to-one value messaging must be personalized and needs-based. Why? Meeting customers’ needs automatically adds value. Our recent study showed 90 percent of consumers believe that a brand’s ability to personalize their shopping experience impacts the amount they spend/shop with that brand. What’s more, 65 percent are willing to share their personal information with a brand or retailer in exchange for more personalized shopping experiences, coupons or other benefits.
When it comes to e-commerce and merchandise planning, being a week out is almost like being ten weeks behind. There should be a needs-driven calendar AND a weekly commercial plan six months out. This calendar will drive seasonal priorities and help determine messaging effectiveness, and the weekly plan will make it easier for each division to implement in-store, on-site, and off-site messaging tactics.
True convergence requires retailers to maintain their own e-commerce platform rather than relying on e-commerce marketplaces. Not only does this reconnect retailers and their shoppers, but it also reestablishes direct and full access to shopper data. This data is then used to start the loop over and over again, giving retailers the chance to continually measure and improve the effectiveness of their marketing, media, and incentives.
Convergence is coming sooner rather than later, but you can stay ahead of the curve. The first step is to make sure you have your own e-commerce platform in place, and the partner or partners to help you integrate media, incentives, loyalty and payments. Once you’ve accomplished that, you'll be well on your way to a lucrative e-commerce future.