Mercatus executives Mark Fairhurst, Sylvain Perrier and Steve Benteau (left to right) presented data and discussed issues relating to e-commerce operations at GroceryTech in Cincinnati.
The opening day of GroceryTech, presented by RIS and Progressive Grocer in Cincinnati, on July 12 kicked off with an interactive workshop, “The Key to Digital Growth and Profitability: Connecting E-Commerce Strategy, Technology and Operations,” hosted by Sylvain Perrier, president and CEO of Toronto-based grocery e-commerce provider Mercatus; Mark Fairhurst, the company’s chief growth officer; and Steve Benteau, its chief technology officer.
During the informative session, which was introduced by Albert Guffanti, VP, Retail Technology Group at EnsembleIQ and limited to grocery executives, attendees learned to optimize their online grocery strategy and the operational elements necessary to protect market share, serve customers, boost revenue and achieve channel profitability.
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“We’re constantly looking at how we can marry the online with the mobile with the in-store, and constantly re-envisioning how we do that,” Fairhurst said of Mercatus at the outset of the session.
The Mercatus executives revealed research conducted for the company by Barrington, Ill.-based Brick Meets Click that led them to predict that by 2027, grocery pickup would be the dominant receiving method for online grocery, since this method offers more control for retailers and is cheaper.
Benteau pointed out that “there’s a new Mount Everest that comes into play when we start talking omnichannel [and] data that needs to be integrated,” with the big challenge being “how do you make that data integrated and consistent across the whole ecosystem?” Generative AI emerged during the session as a critical technology that will enable a more personalized e-commerce experience.
One novel feature of the workshop was the use of Mentimeter software to gauge audience viewpoints on a variety of topics by posing a range of questions, starting with “What factors do you see impacting your business in 2023 and beyond?” Unsurprisingly, labor issues came in first among attendees, followed by online shopping. One surprise for the presenters was that 76% of attendees described their main focus as acquiring new customers – which included new to online – rather than retention of existing ones.
In response to an audience member’s question about how to capture impulse purchases online, Perrier responded he had observed online shoppers “using [the] search [feature] for that impulse moment,” and spoke of a box featuring three or four recommended items that Mercatus had placed at checkout to spur such last-minute purchases. “This is a question that everyone’s trying to solve,” he admitted. “How do you create the magazine/gum rack at checkout … in an online world?”
There may not always have been a definitive answer to every question, but Mercatus certainly had attendees thinking more deeply about the various issues relating to their e-commerce operations.