The Kroger Co. is among the grocers investing in infrastructure and loyalty to create a better experience for online shoppers.
E-commerce is a booming segment for food retailers, and it’s becoming increasingly obvious that digital shoppers are in it for the long haul. Online grocery sales are expected to surpass 20% of the overall U.S. grocery retail market by 2026, according to a study from Mercatus/Incisiv. What’s more, the Adobe Digital Price Index has found that grocery shoppers even remain relatively undeterred by high e-commerce grocery prices, spending $64.6 billion in August alone.
Whether through ads, influencers or short-form videos on social media, back-end upgrades that make the buying process more seamless, or myriad other tactics, investing in ways to engage the digital shopper has never been more paramount for retailers.
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While some of today’s digital shoppers are simply looking for an easy way to place an order and be on their way, many others use social media platforms, food blogs or recipe sites to find inspiration for meals. A recent survey from New York-based digital shopper marketing platform Chicory found that nearly half of respondents said they’re likely or very likely to make a grocery purchase directly from a food site that gives them meal-planning inspiration, which underscores the significance of off-site content and other such resources.
Minneapolis-based Target Corp., for example, became the first mass retailer to make its products available through Instagram Checkout in 2020, and the platform’s e-commerce solutions and influencer capabilities have grown exponentially since then. Embracing the often youth-oriented world of TikTok, Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market used a trending audio clip to promote its popular Berry Chantilly Cake, and Sprouts Farmers Market went viral on the social platform when a user praised the Phoenix-based grocer’s $5 deli sandwiches.
“If brands and retailers aren’t yet leveraging off-site content to acquire new customers, they need to start,” says Yuni Sameshima, Chicory’s founder and CEO. “Today, winning at the shelf requires meeting consumers in moments of inspiration, well before they hit the retailer’s store or site.”
Other media channels, both third-party and owned, are being used by grocers to bring unique, often shoppable content to online consumers. The Fresh Market is seeing success with its San Mateo, Calif.-based partner Firework, which has brought its full suite of live-commerce and short-form shoppable video capabilities to The Fresh Market’s owned media channels.
According to Kevin Miller, chief marketing officer at the Greensboro, N.C.-based grocer: “With Firework, we’ve finally been able to replicate those premium customer experiences in the digital sphere — and based on the response from our customers, it has been a resounding success. What we’ve been able to accomplish with Firework in such a short period of time has been nothing short of transformative.”
While Walmart does engage with third-party platforms, the company is also focusing on its own real estate by bringing a bevy of upgrades to its website and app to help enhance the customer experience. The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer is aiming to make e-commerce shopping easier, more engaging and more personalized while also setting itself up for future online success.
Walmart has refreshed its registry site experience to make the gift registry process simpler, and is also working with New York-based visual outfitting and styling solution Stylitics to show clothing customers how to style outfits or what accessories to add. Additionally, new online filters will let shoppers view only EBT- or SNAP-eligible items, with EBT-eligible products easily identifiable through clear badging.
“Our goal is to create a seamless site and app experience that makes it easier for customers to find value and savings, whether they’re shopping for familiar weekly essentials or something new and different,” wrote Tom Ward, EVP and chief e-commerce officer for Walmart U.S., in a recent company blog post. “More robust content on item pages – videos, images and more – ensures when a customer lands on a product they’re interested in, they have all the information they need to feel confident purchasing it.”
Continued Ward: “Not only are these enhancements making the e-commerce experience even easier and more convenient for our customers right now, but also, they are creating a strong foundation for us to build upon as we accelerate the site experience in the future.”