The Keys to Profitability When Syncing Online and In-Store Grocery Commerce
Already in the 90s, forward-looking retailers like Homegrocer and Webvan started offering their assortment online, delivering fresh products in trucks to the suburbs. However, back then, they failed due to immature technology, stagnant demand, and high prices for software.
Now, some 30 years later, the digital supermarket has gained new momentum. Shopper Insights reports that 45 percent of U.S. citizens use online grocery shopping, BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store), and delivery more and more frequently. Customers enjoy shopping for their food online, saving them time and effort.
Satisfaction rates among the shops are pretty different: 86 percent of supermarkets and grocers report dissatisfaction with online profitability. Profits are low compared to in-store revenue. Third-party delivery services often eat a substantial chunk of the money.
Independent stores should stick to a few practical recommendations to gain back the power over their revenue.
From the Shelf to the Fork: Order Options
BOPIS and home delivery are the two most common options for hybrid stores to bring their products to people’s homes. Smaller and independent stores primarily benefit from BOPIS, as it doesn’t necessarily require additional staff to ship orders or hire costly third-party delivery services.
On the one hand, BOPIS immensely reduces wait times by offering digital payments and preparing orders. Stores can free up the time of busy staff to focus on filling shelves or managing customer service. On the other hand, customers enjoy the experience, saving time pre-ordering their food and still getting the chance to walk through the store to spontaneously pick up items or products they forgot to include in their digital shopping cart. BOPIS also allows the store’s staff to only select the most high-quality items for their customers, which contributes to a better shopping experience for buyers.
Now, to optimize BOPIS, stores should opt for mobile applications that allow customers to select items and schedule their pick-up time based on available time slots. Customers can then receive a notification as soon as the order is finished in-store. By managing a tight, but organized schedule, such as five minutes to 10 minutes for each customer during bottlenecks, staff can efficiently work even when demand is rising.
Food Delivery for Happy Customers
Larger, more high-end stores should implement a seamless delivery experience. Hitting the critical mass of delivery orders, they can reduce costs by hiring their delivery staff or onboarding a delivery-only service. As customers wish for a seamless, personalized and high-quality delivery process, stores can hugely benefit from hiring and training personnel. Training should touch upon picking and storing products to preserve their freshness, finding and delivering products fast, and keeping a friendly smile at all times.
When choosing a third-party delivery service, stores need to ensure that they have the power over their data and can fine-tune their offerings and delivery options. Therefore, read the small letters when contracting a service and ask a potential provider about the details before choosing one. You know best, which products can go on promotion, and how to upsell order quantity for specific products. That’s why it needs to be in your hands to optimize digital inventory, delivery schedules and discounts.
New Sales With Old Tricks
A phone app is a digital access point for clients. To enhance the hybrid shopping experience, stores need to integrate customer profiles in-store and in an app. Grocers can then run a customer loyalty program, such as discounts and loyalty points, with which customers receive the same value in-store as online.
A personal log-in space into the digital store will also leave enough data for sending each customer personalized shopping recommendations or pre-filled shopping baskets. All you need is an application that allows an integrated point-of-sale system to synchronize in-store and digital inventory and allocate customer profiles with loyalty plans. Investment in this feature is becoming a “must have,” allowing stores to make the customer experience even more seamless and fast. Customers are demanding it.
Digital grocery markets are here to stay, but losses are not. Grocers can quickly drive profit by considering a few tips, investing in the right software, and gaining power over the hybrid shopping landscape.
Bagrat Safaryan is the Co-Founder and CEO of Local Express, a SaaS vertical for the Food and Beverage (F&B) industry which specializes in providing eCommerce solutions to independent retailers and enterprises seeking digital transformation. Since starting the company in 2017, Bagrat has been on a mission to bring turnkey e-commerce solutions to grocery stores and food retailers across the country using the Local Express platform.