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Why grocers need a different approach to e-commerce


Today, there is significant promise in the e-commerce market for grocers. As sales rise and more customers turn to buying fresh foods and packaged products online, grocery e-commerce has become a necessity in order to stand out. 

In fact, e-grocery is already on its way to surpass 20% of the overall grocery market by 2025, more than doubling its current share. 

From implementing the right technology to improving the digital customer experience, here’s everything you need to know to create a successful online grocery business. 

The right grocery e-commerce technology

The customer-centric approach is taking over in online grocery shopping and general online retail. That means brands have to deliver a cohesive and unified experience across a number of devices and platforms, allowing customers to engage and shop on their own terms. However, many retailers, especially grocers, can’t reinvent the wheel every time consumer preferences change and new technologies become available.

That’s where technologies like headless commerce, microservices, APIs and cloud adoption come into play. Each of these four technologies work together to develop scalable, adaptable solutions that feed into the idea of a universal service model.

Four modern technologies to revolutionize the e-grocery experience

In grocery e-commerce, the online experience matters, and it all starts with your technology. Here are 4 key technologies to consider. 

  • Headless commerce - Create a custom shopping experience that operates independently of back-end processes. Build your own user interfaces and access your customers through any digital touch-point.
  • Microservices - Allow agile development without interruptions. Use small, modular applications designed to deliver specific e-commerce features such as online cart, checkout and more.
  • APIs - Create a unique customer experience with APIs that hold your microservices together. Easily set rules for how data is shared between applications.
  • Cloud-native - Effortlessly scale and adapt. Future-proof your online store with applications built to exist in the cloud––accessible and manageable anywhere.

These four technologies are the future of agile grocery e-commerce. They allow retailers to access customers through any digital touch-point and enable businesses to get going quickly with rapid development and continuous deployment. 

Once grocers have the technology in place, they also need to adapt to the online customer experience. 

Adapting the online customer experience for groceries

From selecting a particular cut of meat at the deli counter, to weighing out the perfect portion of hand picked fruit or vegetables, grocery shopping is a sensory experience that consumers get very selective about.

One of the toughest challenges facing grocers in the modern era of digital commerce is taking the in-store experience and adapting it for online. 

For regular retailers, the transition to e-commerce can be fairly straightforward: all you need is a website, a standard payment system and a courier solution. For grocers, however, the transition is far more complicated, requiring the four modern technologies mentioned above in order to retain control and offer the same level of choice and experience to online customers as they do in-store. In order to achieve this: 

  • Items sold by weight will need a smart pricing system that can adapt to different units of measure, factoring in the base price, order price and also the cost of delivery.
  • A substitute system will also need to be implemented to the customer’s satisfaction, allowing them to set their own preferences in terms of product unavailability and substitutions.

     

In addition to a pricing and substitution system, it’s important to consider all aspects of the end user experience. What else do you need to consider? What do you need to offer for a better online grocery shopping experience? What do customers expect? How will they add items to their cart? What does that look like?

Online shopping cart options matter

When shopping from clothing or technology stores, customers typically have on average between one and three products in their shopping cart. For online groceries, those same customers will typically have 15-25 products in their cart. This is why not all e-commerce platforms support the grocery business. It’s important to keep in mind that you need to make sure your shopping cart can cope with a large number and variety of products. 

Grocery customers will also often place similar or even identical products in their cart each week––all from their standard list. Therefore, it is essential that customers are offered a simple “reorder” functionality that enables them to instantly add past items into their card such as which cuts of meat they want or what color bananas they like. This reduces the time a customer is required to shop, ultimately improving customer satisfaction. 

Three features to consider for your online store

When you’re building your online shopping cart for your store, there are some key factors to consider to improve (yours and) the customers’ shopping experience. Here are the top 3 for a frictionless checkout.

1. Order from your last order

Grocery customers often buy the same staple products each week. ‘Order from your last order’ allows them to put select items from a previous order in the cart in just one click.

2. Maintain a shopping list

Maintaining a shopping list allows customers to save their favorite items onto a virtual shopping list. Then, they can either place them into the cart one at a time or even in all at once. Their preferences, such as green bananas or a middle cut of beef, are also stored on the shopping list so they always get exactly what they want.

3. Subscriptions

For customers who regularly shop for the same items every week, you can set up a subscription. This allows customers to set up a weekly delivery of the same items on a day and time that suits them without returning to the website each week.

Watch the video below and take a look at advanced options for shopping cart functionality.

Cart-Video-1

Set your online grocery store up for success

Today’s online grocery environment gives grocers an opportunity to engage and delight shoppers in a new way. With the right technology and features, grocery retailers can bridge both online and offline shopping journeys for their customers.

To learn more about how you can run a successful online grocery business and deliver a modern shopping experience with the right technology, click here or get in touch with us here.