4 Ways to Achieve Grocery E-Commerce Excellence

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Today, there is significant promise in the ecommerce market for grocers. Online grocery sales are rising continually, at 13% year-over-year, according to Kantar Worldpanel data. Moreover, data from Neilsen shows online grocery spending is projected to grow 10 times faster than in-store sales over the next four years, reaching $100 billion between 2021 and 2023.

Despite these impressive trends, there is still room for grocery retailers to grow in ecommerce. According to IGD research presented at the 2018 Groceryshop Conference, online grocery makes up under 2% of shopping activities in the United States today. Retailers have a long way to go to attract new omnichannel shoppers, build buy-in for ecommerce and increase repeated usage over time.

To make the most of the journey, retailers should investigate how to evolve their digital offering to meet the needs of current expectations customers require to keep their attention. This list unquestionably includes options that get products to consumers from store to door, such as Click-and-Collect, Curbside Pickup and Delivery solutions. The complex task of bringing these solutions to life involves a combination of behind-the-scenes coordination, management and planning to offer the best possible customer experience across the shopping journey. Retailers who focus on getting these fundamental programs and processes right throughout their business will have an easier time implementing and maintaining operational excellence, all while growing their bottom line. The following four pillars will help guide retailers to create a successful end-to-end grocery delivery program.

Pillar 1: Integration

Although some retailers have already enlisted technology like mobile shopping apps to advance their grocery sales, integration is key. Insufficient or outdated processes, difficult-to-use systems that don’t speak to one another and inconsistent communication can create inefficiencies that result in revenue losses.

An integrative approach will harmonize areas that are often weak links. These areas include different data sets (such as products, shoppers and associates), in-house and third-party systems (such as loyalty, coupons and inventory platforms), a company’s processes or workflows and every individual involved in the shopper journey from end to end.

Pillar 2: Analysis

Tracking and measuring customers’ key data can lead to a goldmine of information, which can provide a significant competitive advantage for grocery retailers.

To use data to gain a more holistic view of customers, a retailer first should seek out a digital platform that facilitates ecommerce transactions and enables retailers keep the data, allowing them to own their own customer relationships.

Next, the retailer should put the transactional data to good use, logging all single data attributes to glean practical insights on the order fulfillment cycle.

Then, they should leverage these insights to continually evolve and improve the last mile of a customer’s experience.

Pillar 3: Organization

To make sure the people, processes and products are working to create the best possible customer experience, it is critical to orchestrate all of the components of  a complex grocery ecommerce operation.

It is important to gain buy-in and cooperation from all levels of an organization, from head-office IT, Operations and Logistics to frontline managers, associates, cashiers and other key positions. Anyone involved in the last-minute picking, packing, processing and delivery must be looped into the process. This entails a lot of work, but a strategic approach can make a big impact on customer loyalty.

Pillar 4: Empowerment

Investing in store associates is potentially the most effective way to win over consumers. In today’s increasingly digital world, data indicates there is still a role for the human touch. This is especially true for hybrid fulfillment services such as Click-and-Collect or other curbside pick-up services.

Empower employees to deliver best-in-class services to customers by:

  • Communicating with employees as if they are customers. Talk to them on a daily or weekly basis through a medium that works best for them. Provide clear and complete information about program goals, sales targets and each employee’s role and responsibility in driving last-mile success.
  • Giving employees the right tools to do a great job. This might include equipping staff with mobile devices to conduct inventory searches or swiftly complete customer transactions.
  • Providing adequate and ongoing training. When updating in-store sales processes, provide proper training and support at the outset.
  • Investing in the power of digital. Adopting AI-powered digital solutions gives employees the means to collaborate more quickly and meaningfully with other stakeholders and shoppers.

When it comes to the ecommerce game, there is no substitute for a deliberate and proactive strategy. Implementing processes that focus on the shopper journey from end to end is the way to master the last mile in the grocery retail experience.

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This post is sponsored by Mercatus