As online competition for shopper loyalty heats up, easing the customer experience will be paramount for grocers looking to drive growth from this unexpected surge in digital shopping.
During this pandemic, shoppers have found time to research online grocery services in their area and are formulating their short list of preferred stores. Will yours make the cut? Here are three guidelines on how to dominate shopper retention and store loyalty for your grocer's next chapter of digital success.
1. Remove friction in the “first mile”
We’ve all seen a passionate focus in refining the “last mile” of digital grocery, but it’s the “first mile” that’s been sorely neglected – that space between knowing you need to source groceries and actually logging in to fill your cart.
In those first few moments shopping online, trade promotions often override logic as grocery websites offer bananas and raw chicken next to discount dog food and diapers. We know our digital shoppers are economical, but they’re also insanely busy and today’s user experience creates more headaches than checkouts.
Grocery Shopii's 2019 consumer research study identified meal planning as the critical step that drives successful online grocery outcomes. Think about it – when you know what you’re making for dinner, it’s infinitely easier to shop for groceries. Solution offerings in the “first mile” will grow rapidly in the coming months as user experience issues continue to steal grocery headlines through this rise in digital customer usage. The time is now to test new tech offerings that will be essential to securing your store’s digital future.
2. Personalization is the key to differentiation
Knowing your customer is Marketing 101, but we all fall guilty to losing site of the shopper’s needs when more pressing priorities take over. Efficiency, speed and added value are all attributes associated with e-commerce and, as our research uncovered, they’re all needs of busy parents and professionals with at least one child in the home. This buying group is the golden tipping point for capturing the highly desired Gen Y and Gen Z loyalty. Earn them and the rest will follow.
How, you ask?
By emulating the level of personalization they’ve grown accustomed to on social channels like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Recently, Facebook noted that 87% of 18-34 year-olds search the web for recipes prior to conducting their online grocery shopping, highlighting a thirst for recipe inspiration to fuel their digital shopping experience. Take action by augmenting shopping journeys to adjust for dietary edits, meal planning, and cook time, while investigating paths to upgrade your shopping journey to mirror those food bloggers your shoppers follow. Efforts to boost personalization capabilities will intensify customer loyalty, retain your new shoppers, and differentiate yourselves from competing grocers.
3. Expedite the shopping journey
Digital grocery shopping is a highly inefficient, hunt-and-peck process that suffers an outrageous cart abandonment rate north of 74%. No matter where shoppers quit in their journey, optimization is first rooted in the acceptance that speed is a fundamental expectation of shoppers when making any purchase online.
Predictive tools and AI functionality have a place in this conversation, but radical change is needed to drive long term digital grocery engagement. We’ve conducted focus groups from subsets of our research that identified online grocery shopping as a positive experience, and what we learned was eye-opening. Busy parents prioritize speed over nearly any other decision criteria when sourcing groceries online. What was the one exception? Dietary edits like gluten-free and paleo. Otherwise, speed wins when filling a basket online. This single data point opens the test-and-learn door to identifying new ways to automate the way we fill carts online.
Thoughtfully auto-populating carts is a new conversation on the digital grocery scene as stores, platforms and tech providers to the industry test new ways to unlock value for customers. We will all have a front row seat to watch this play out in the coming months as we build journeys that defy past assumptions and expedite the online shopping experience.
Katie Hotze is founder and CEO of Grocery Shopii, a digital meal planning application for grocery e-commerce that expedites online shopping with fresh, inspiring recipes from top bloggers and food brands.