Grocery e-commerce began to flourish during the onslaught of the pandemic when the need for convenience drove the rapid delivery model to its peak. As consumers continue to limit their outings and opt for faster delivery, the need for digital-based shopping solutions grows even more apparent, and brick-and-mortar retailers are beginning to feel the pressure to keep up.
Today, aside from small mom-and-pop grocers, most grocery chains offer an online solution to facilitate contactless delivery or curbside pick-up. Many larger retailers have adopted e-commerce into their business model by either partnering with third-party companies, like Instacart, or e-commerce services, like Homesome, to build their own online grocery store experience. At the same time, the rise of the 15-minute grocery delivery model saw big-name players like GoPuff, Getir, and Gorillas master the art of rapid food and beverage delivery and establish a new precedent for DTC service.
Ultra-fast grocery delivery has set a high bar for consumer expectations, and with the trend looking to hold steadfast throughout the pandemic and beyond, retailers must respond to the changing landscape. Nonetheless, for many consumers, nothing can replace the ritualistic act of roaming the aisles and discovering new items: though many people strictly leaned on delivery in 2020, most consumers have now become omnichannel shoppers who alternate between in-store and online grocery ordering as needed.
Innovative retailers are quickly finding ways to integrate their online and offline experiences, and rightfully so. The benefits of online grocery don’t solely end at saving customers a trip to the store. Here are some top ways you can use e-commerce to enhance your business as a brick-and-mortar retailer:
1. Utilize consumer purchasing and demographics data
Understanding your customers has always been paramount to capturing sales and retaining loyal shoppers. Today, through the integration of AI and Machine Learning systems, retailers have a wealth of data that can be used to build out their virtual shelves and end-caps with the products consumers want, suggest items to customers based on their shopping history, and essentially curate a unique, personalized product assortment for each shopper.
2. Improve inventory management
By integrating your store’s catalog with an online platform, you can improve your shoppers’ experience by providing customers with insight into in-stocks, out-of-stocks, and items running low. Employees are also given better visibility into inventory levels with less need to rely on manual tracking systems. E-grocer Farmstead recently launched their Grocer OS platform, a system that utilizes live inventory data and purchasing history to make smart product recommendations for customers while also helping retailers avoid out-of-stocks.
3. Collect insightful customer feedback
An online retail platform also serves as a channel for receiving feedback from valued customers. Product, store, and employee reviews can all be captured through your e-grocery app or desktop platform and be used to improve both the online and in-store customer experience.
4. Perfect your product assortment
Purchase data gathered through your e-commerce platform provides easily-accessible analytics on top-selling products and categories. When you always know exactly what your customers want, you can make more informed decisions when planning re-orders and adding new products to your catalog.
Over the past two years, we’ve seen the effects of online grocery trickle down to physical retailers and transform consumers’ expectations around their in-store shopping experiences as well. While both on-demand delivery and in-store shopping have their time and place, retailers will need to leverage both mediums to be successful in the evolving grocery supply arena.
About Pod Foods
Pod Foods Co. is a tech-based, business-to-business wholesale food distribution company. Its mission is to remedy a dated and fragmented food supply chain with a data-driven, tech-enabled solution that benefits both food producers and retailers.