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Retail Foodservice

How grocers can compete in the on-demand world

Photograph: Shutterstock

The convergence of mobile technology with the modern supermarket opens an exciting range of potential for grocery retailers.

Mobile commerce is increasingly dominating business and accounts for an estimated $2.3T in 2019 alone, according to eMarketer and Statista, and it’s only expected to grow. Additionally, Research by Rakuten Intelligence found that order-ahead & pick-up reached $27.2 billion in retail sales in 2018. This market will only become more rapid and mobile.

Mobile-first is a buzzword, of course, but it has become a way of life for vast numbers of consumers, and it greatly influences today’s omnichannel grocery business. Shoppers are quickly becoming accustomed to:

  • Mobile apps for online shopping across a limitless array of retail types
  • Mobile and voice apps for keeping shopping lists
  • Mobile apps for accessing loyalty programs and digital coupons
  • Mobile apps that enable order-ahead for grocery delivery or pickup
  • Mobile apps for rapid meal delivery or pickup from restaurants

These daily experiences shape consumer expectations on a daily basis and drive retailers to confront change. They know one of the most challenging aspects of competing in today’s mobile-first, on-demand economy is the heightened expectation for convenience and accuracy that shoppers bring from their experiences in other retail channels.

Currently, in stores where online orders are picked and prepared with growing frequency, there is a whole new array of mobile tools that operate on today’s pervasive smart phones or on commercial versions of those mobile devices. These tools include functionality such as:

  • Friction-free checkout away from a cash-wrap or POS terminal
  • Guiding in-store order pickers
  • Providing route maps and real-time confirmation for delivery drivers
  • Timing and coordinating pick-up appointments at the store
  • Executive reporting of performance insights for store managers

When effective, these mobile tools help increase sales, save labor time, improve accuracy and create enhanced shopper experiences. To be effective, though, they must connect seamlessly and reliably with bedrock in-store solutions, such as payments, store inventory and food preparation systems.

Because both shopper and retailer apps interact wirelessly via the cloud, mobile-active solutions allow for a high degree of consistency and personalized interaction. A store order picker, for example, may query a customer about an item substitution to avoid surprises. Or a customer may receive a text message when a delivery driver is coming near to their neighborhood.

Precise timing of store order pickup is an aspect that can greatly influence both store operations and the shopper experience. This adds value especially during the after-work/dinner rush time window when customers are anxious to get home and stores and restaurants worry about bottlenecks that can limit sales or harm satisfaction. Integrating a trusted payment transaction is a timesaving plus.

A solution called ARRIVE, from Rakuten Ready, leverages predictive arrival technology to enable precisely timed pickup of mobile orders. It is provided to retailers as a software development kit (SDK) that can be embedded within their e-commerce site, enabling it to sense when a shopper’s mobile device is drawing near to the pickup location. Rakuten Ready also delivers mobile tools as outlined above, to help grocers increase sales, save labor time, improve accuracy and create superior shopping experiences.

In the mobile-active world of retail, the race is on to compete and meet fast-changing shopper expectations. Supermarket operators don’t have to tackle the challenges alone. Rakuten Ready has proven business-ready solutions for order management, fulfillment and pickup that work seamlessly with existing store processes. Visit RakutenReady.com to learn more.

This post is sponsored by Rakuten Ready

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