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Online grocery needs a dramatic revamp

Online grocery needs a dramatic revamp

Online grocery needs a dramatic revamp. How often do your consumers grocery shop? Once a month, once a fortnight, once a week, or perhaps when we are throwing a party? We shop as per our convenience. Convenience is the key word. 

Grocery ecommerce stores are continuously trying to make shopping more efficient and hassle-free. However, as long as grocers are trying to replicate the physical store layout online, the experience will be sub-par as scrolling through the large product catalogue to find the items one needs is time-consuming and dull.

Categorisation is essential in the store. Hypermarkets and supermarkets have several aisles (fresh produce, fish and meat, dairy, spices, cereals and so on), where shoppers cart around from entry to exit.

Online grocery shopping has gone a couple of steps ahead of stores with sub-categorisation. Within dairy one can navigate to milk, yoghurt, cheese etc. and pick their favourites. However, a closer look at a typical grocery shopping event shows that this journey is less than ideal. Why?

Because it fails to recognise that a customer or a household buys the same products over and over, month after month. Sure, there is exploration with new brands and different flavors, but unlike say, fashion shopping, where a shirt bought in the past is almost never bought again, re-buy is a key in grocery.

The power of personalised grocery ecommerce store

So how should the online grocery store be organised? The advantage of ecommerce is that algorithms can create a personalised layout for each customer, which is not possible in a brick and mortar store. An online customer can have his or her own aisle – imagine an aisle ‘For Jonathan’ or ‘For Martha’, where he or she has a pre-curated set of products for their household needs.

Personalisation in grocery means dynamically creating these custom baskets, so the shopper does not have to go back and forth between different categories to add the one product to their cart. These pre-loaded baskets not only make the chore more efficient, but also ensure that customers do not forget any essentials they need. With the cart already in place, all a customer has to do is add any additional products (from a set of personalised recommendations or from category pages), and remove products they don’t need at the moment.

This extends beyond creating personalised landing pages, as your competitor’s are perfecting the same thing continually too. Instead take the products they love to the consumer. A massive concept on an individual basis, too “big data” for conventional segmenting, like email software, use predictive personalisation software instead like, SwiftERM. This will identify each individual’s most likely imminent purchases, and make convenience a state of the art phenomena instead of a cliché, used by a marketing assistant to sound like they know what they’re talking about.

Research shows that in the grocery vertical, time spent online in finding products and building the cart is inversely proportional to loyalty. Given this, this ‘personalised selection’ is key to customer lifetime value.

Surge in online grocery and intense competition

Grocery shopping anytime and from anywhere has been growing in the past decade, but saw enormous acceleration during the pandemic. A survey by Clinch in the US found that 75.4% of consumers purchase groceries online, with 80% of those consumers citing that they shop for groceries online more than ever before, since the pandemic. This trend will continue, as 75.8% of consumers plan to continue to shop online for groceries post the pandemic.

With such phenomenal growth across the globe, the pie has expanded. At the same time, competition is heating up and supermarket margins are wafer thin. Marketers spend a lot of effort in getting the customer back to the ecommerce site. Once the visit is secured, personalisation should be used as a strategic lever to create a frictionless shopping experience, lock-in conversions and grow share of wallet.

Modelling the online grocery stores on brick and mortar stores, therefore, is a big compromise and is demanding a fresh perspective.

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