Make-or-Break Moments for Digital Grocery

New reports from NielsenIQ and Mercatus affirm the importance of a positive shopping experience
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
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Source: Mercatus Omnichannel Shopper Behavior Report 2022 Vol 3
Source: "Mercatus Omnichannel Shopper Behavior Report 2022, Vol. 3"

With the next year serving as a watershed of sorts for e-commerce – will the digital marketplace gain a greater share or hover around the same usage rates? – a pair of new reports confirms the crucial consumer experience factor.

According to recently released insights from Mercatus and NielsenIQ, positive experiences in both ordering and receiving products are truly make-or-break times for future e-comm loyalty.

“Grocery retailers who want to grow their online business need to improve the overall customer experience,” said Mark Fairhurst, VP of marketing at Toronto-based Mercatus. “By providing a great experience the first time and every time, grocery retailers can retain more current customers and fuel positive word-of-mouth advocacy that can attract others to try their online services.”

NielsenIQ’s new audit found that the experience begins at the very first digital touchpoints. According to the Chicago-based firm’s review of 40 retailers’ digital operations, nearly a third (29%) are missing a nutrition fact panel on almost half of their products, 24% are missing ingredient statements on more than half of food and beverage product detail pages, and 50% don’t provide any type of iconography on product detail pages. In addition, 40% of retailers show two or fewer images per product on average on their product detail pages, and only 35% have sites with custom attributes available within the search filter.

Consumers want more information on which to base their decisions.  According to a NielsenIQ shopper segmentation study, 64% of consumers have switched from a frequently purchased brand to another product that provides more in-depth information.  The company also pointed out that one in three shoppers has bought items online from a competing brand because of a lack of information received while shopping online.

Meanwhile, the third volume of the “Omnichannel Shopper Behavior Report,” published by Mercatus and partner Brick Meets Click, focused on the back half of the digital shopping experience. The report revealed that the top two factors in a positive e-grocery shopping experience were receiving products in good condition, followed by getting everything they ordered.

On the flip side, a negative experience begets negative results for e-tailers.  Consumers who had a negative experience were 2.6 times more likely to use a service less often than those who had a positive experience, and were also 3.4 times more likely to switch to another service and 1.6 times more likely to stop using this type of service entirely, Mercatus found. 

“When it comes to a positive e-grocery experience, minimizing out-of-stocks is important, but providing products in the condition that customers expect is essential,” said David Bishop, partner at Barrington, Ill.-based Brick Meets Click. “In other words, having the exact product ordered is good, but ensuring that the ice cream is frozen when it arrives is even better. The reward for making improvements in the necessary operational areas can be substantial.”

Both reports concluded that the growth of digital within the omnichannel space hinges on the shopper experience. In its audit recap, NielsenIQ pointed out that shoppers’ “patience will run thin” if they can’t find they products they want, and that retailers must continue to improve how shoppers find products that matter to them through organic search, advanced filters, personalized programs, imagery, icons and more. For its part, Mercatus emphasized that growth online is based on a differentiated customer experience that combines technology, insights and operational excellence. 

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