Drawing customers into your business – whether it’s the physical store or your digital footprint – is all about inspiration, engagement and the experience, noted Jody Kalmbach, VP digital experience for The Kroger Co., during her presentation at the Western Michigan Food Marketing Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich.
One of the biggest challenges for grocery retailers when they're moving to ecommerce is how to take the store experience online without overwhelming the consumer with all of the choices. The answer lies in data collection and data science, using what you know to curate the experience they need. In all aspects of grocery retailing, generic experiences are out and customization is in, Kalmbach noted. This is especially true when it comes to how shoppers interact with your company digitally.
She noted that at Kroger, everything is personalized, from connecting how customers shop in the store to how they use the app to what items they select when shopping online to what they're ordering to be shipped directly to their homes. What the consumers see on the website, for example, is centered on their routine shop. “Take the noise out for the customer; make what they see on your site personal and relevant to them,” Kalmbach advised.
Even when you don’t know much about a shopper individually, grocery retailers still need to make sure that how the shopper is engaging with it digitally fits the need state at the time. For example, Kalmbach said that Kroger’s app changes what's displayed by the time of day. At 4:00 p.m., the app pivots to dinner options, because most consumers are seeking inspiration for what to make for dinner when they engage with the app at that time. The app also changes what it displays based on where the user is. Once the user enters a store, the app information pivots to show store layouts and product location, and opens the user’s shopping list.
“You need to create an ecosystem to bring it all together to meet customers’ needs,” Kalmbach noted.