Gong’s Market, an IGA grocer based in Sanger, Calif., was recently approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to process SNAP EBT payments online, making it the first single-store independent grocer in the Golden State to earn this distinction, following a collaboration with Toronto-based Grocerist, which offers the first and only industry-specific solution built on Shopify, the world’s largest e-commerce platform, and San Francisco-based Forage, one of only three third-party payment processors authorized by the USDA for online SNAP transactions.
Progressive Grocer recently heard from Gong’s Market owner, Michael Ohashi, on how the e-commerce implementation process went and how it’s currently performing.
Progressive Grocer: When exactly did you roll out the e-commerce solution?
Michael Ohashi: We launched our online store on Grocerist in June, and SNAP was approved by the USDA in August. We’re extremely happy with how quickly Grocerist was able to help us launch this critical payment solution for our customers.
PG: What did deployment consist of on your end?
MO:Grocerist’s onboarding team helped make it easy. They spent a lot of time with us to figure out how best to configure our site for the best customer experience, including pickup and delivery configurations. They worked with our [point-of-sale] partner to collect and transform our POS data to ensure product inventory and pricing are accurate daily and reflect our in-store promotions. They sent a photographer to ensure our deli, meat and produce sections looked amazing on our site. And their credit card processing rates are much lower than others we’ve seen in the market. It’s been very smooth from the start.
PG:What response have you seen from shoppers in terms of adoption since the solution went live?
MO:The response from our customers has been very positive. We live in a rural area, and the convenience of being able to order online and pay the same prices as in-store is a huge win for our close-knit community. The online store feels like an extension of our in-store independent grocery store experience.
PG: How have customers reacted specifically to the availability of SNAP EBT?
MO: There’s a lot of excitement. Approximately 70% of our in-store sales involve SNAP, and offering online SNAP has been a long-requested feature of our customers. With all the challenges facing our community, the ability to use SNAP and have quality produce, meat and more delivered to your door really helps improve the lives of our community.