Omnichannel or Bust: The Future of eGrocery

In business today, it's not enough just to aim for customer satisfaction. Retailers and grocers must create a seamless and excellent customer experience.

What is "customer experience," exactly?

It's how your customers perceive and engage with your brand. It's how they feel after they interact with you, whether on the phone, in person, or online. It's how they think of you, and of course, how they talk about you to their friends, family, and social networks.

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That's why it's crucial that retailers and grocers invest in customer experience – to create a holistic, reliable brand via all devices and in-store, with consistent messaging and imagery, as well as real-time updates across all sales and promotional channels. Furthermore, especially in eGrocery, order fulfillment has to be given considerable attention as part of providing an excellent experience. Food items have to be delivered intact, fresh, with no damage, and at the correct temperature. Everything that was in a shopper’s cart must be delivered in their order, with no substitutes or out of stock items, which can be an inventory challenge especially for in-store fulfillment - and there’s no faster way to a negative customer experience than the main ingredient of their dinner not showing up on time.    

In other words, grocers must go omnichannel.

A few years ago, while omnichannel was still a nascent practice, it was not mission-critical for retailers – and increasingly, grocers – to implement into their business. But nowadays, when customers have high expectation for personalization, and competitors are racing to offer higher and higher standards of customer experience, it's crucial that businesses take an omnichannel approach to marketing, sales, and service. Anything less – even the previously impressive "multi-channel" – is a serious handicap.

The term "omnichannel" might bring to mind the digital side of a business – the desktop site, the mobile app, the sales interface. But in fact, it relies equally on brick-and-mortar stores. The two facets must integrate into a cohesive whole. Omnichannel requires a strong union between the digital and physical world, with price parity across channels.

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"Consumers of all ages are seeking an integration of technology and shopping," writes a BusinessWire report, commenting on the results of the International Council for Shopping Center's 2017 Retail Technology Survey. They want "more in-store technology capabilities and deeper, more personalized integration between their brick-and-mortar shopping experience and their mobile devices and applications."

What does that "personalized integration" look like?

Here are some examples of how the physical store interacts with its digital counterpart in an omnichannel experience:

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  • 82% of shoppers use their smartphones to assist them while shopping in stores (BazaarVoice)

  • 87% of millennials click-and-collect (order products online and then pick them up in-store) (BusinessWire)

  • 25% of shoppers have made online purchases while in a physical store  (BigCommerce)

  • 56% of every dollar spent in-store is influenced by digital transactions (Deloitte)

Is omnichannel worth the investment?

The short answer: yes.

Businesses who have implemented strong omnichannel strategies see a serious return on their investments.

  • They retain 89% of their customers (Invesp), compared with 33%, for companies with weak omni-channel strategies (Aberdeen Group)

  • Customer satisfaction is rated 23 times higher than at other companies (Aberdeen Group)

  • Customers reached via omnichannel marketing spend 10% more than their non-integrated counterparts (Harvard Business Review)

  • Consumers who research purchases in advance spend 13% more money than those who don't (Shopify)

Omnichannel engagement is essential for businesses to create the best consumer experience possible.

In the realm of eGrocery, many retailers have been slow to incorporate omnichannel marketing and sales. This may be because of the initial upfront costs, or because the prospect is entirely overwhelming. With single-channel options like Instacart – which may seem like an easy way to step into the arena of online sales – many grocers don't believe it's necessary to create an omnichannel customer experience.

But grocery shopping is becoming more diverse, just as retail has, and customers are increasingly turning to the omnichannel approach to buy their groceries. Each week, 17% of parents, 14% of millennials and 20% of millennials with children ordered groceries online, then picked up at the store, according to the 2018 Valassis Coupon Intelligence Report. Also, 14% of millennial parents have meal kits delivered to their homes. Those numbers are predicted to increase – bringing e-grocery to a $100 billion industry by 2025 – as shoppers become more accustomed to an online and in-store grocery experience.

With locai's expertise in creating omnichannel excellence, grocers can get ahead of the competition and establish themselves as leaders in the industry.  To learn more about how locai can help your business create an effortless omnichannel experience contact us here.