Many consumers are used to buying their household and electrical goods online, and they do so without a second thought. Still, they may not be accustomed to purchasing their groceries this way, and there is plenty of potential here for enterprising food retailers to persuade them to buy groceries online. How should these retailers capitalise on the opportunity, paying particular attention to customer experience and loyalty?
Facing Retail Pressures
Look around many city centres, and there are shutters covering the windows and doors of former big box retailers. Some of these organisations have found it increasingly hard to exist as part of a changing landscape and may have fallen victim to a headlong rush by consumers towards online shopping. Customers who did not necessarily value the personal touch or worry too much about the ‘feel’ of their purchase would fill up their online shopping cart instead and check out that way. Meanwhile, department store owners would face increasing bills and skyrocketing rents, so they’d find it challenging to justify the size and scale of their shops.
However, this downsizing trend may not have been so pronounced for food retailers. Some customers may still like to see what they are putting on the dining room table and have become even more used to visiting these shops when they were the only ‘essential’ store during the pandemic. Yet slowly, consumers are beginning to see the advantage of buying groceries online, and as this trend accelerates, it presents a significant opportunity for food shops everywhere.
Making Life Easier for Consumers
When it comes to this trend, some countries may be more advanced than others. Take Sweden, for example, which has sparse population density. Consumers may need to make considerable effort to get to the nearest shop and often face challenging weather conditions during the winter. It’s far easier for these customers to fire up the laptop and place their weekly order so that the business can deliver the goods to their front door instead. Owners of food stores that operate in rural areas should certainly take a closer look at e-commerce options and think about food delivery solutions in their location.
Dealing with Emerging Trends
Larger companies in other countries are also awakening to the opportunity, even in a place with a high population density like the UK. Here, bosses are starting to feel the ‘pinch’ when it comes to large chunks of real estate in prime locations. Some major food retailers have an enormous brick-and-mortar footprint, with superstores on the outskirts of cities and a variety of ‘handy’ places downtown.
These retailers may also have one eye on their carbon footprint and realise that these superstores have a sizeable environmental impact. Little wonder that some multinationals are trying to downsize in the physical realm and expand online with new e-commerce options tailored to this emerging market.
Making the Transition
Still, it may take some time for the online grocery shopping gimmick to become habitual. Some consumers may have reservations and have not yet purchased any of their food online due to the proliferation of those brick-and-mortar shops and superstores. After all, each major town will typically feature a list of national or international retailers, as well as independent shops and corner stores. Consumers may not be aware that a particular company offers an online solution, and many companies do not go out of their way to publicise the fact.
Further, some consumers may be worried about product quality. These shoppers may like to wander through the grocery aisle, touching those avocados to see how ripe they are or gauging how long a particular bunch of bananas is likely to last on their kitchen counter.
Taking Steps to Get Customers to Buy Online
Clearly, online retailers will need to address quality and suitability questions as they design their new portals and make the checkout experience as user-friendly as possible.
1. Perfecting the Customer Experience
This is not all about swapping the centre aisle for a new landing page. It’s important to make these new environments enticing and to ensure that the customer experience is front and centre. It’s a chance to develop meaningful conversations with customers and create online communities, bringing employees and suppliers along for the ride.
It’s not only about persuading existing customers to move from tangible to virtual. New customer acquisition must be front and centre for a grocery shop of any size.
2. Focusing on the Fundamentals
Retailers will have to ensure that their products are always first class, fresh and suitable for their purpose. They must make the buying experience as intuitive as possible so people do not get hung up on the complexity and decide to turn elsewhere.
They need to have a fair return policy and open their business to a dynamic and clear customer review system. They should be ready to answer any questions and deal with complaints immediately, especially through their social media channels. In the early days, mistakes must be avoided, and public relations disasters averted, so the company can gain traction and convince a sceptical public to come on board.
3. Embracing E-Commerce Solutions
Each company will also have to focus on software and look for solutions that make the most sense for them. Some software giants like Woocommerce may already have products suitable for smaller grocery shops, with a shopping cart setup that is already tried and tested and opportunities for different pricing options, such as subscriptions or flat rate offers. Companies also need to make the online store attractive with higher-quality images, the appropriate detail in the right place and intuitive navigation.
4. Encouraging Loyalty
Once a customer arrives, the primary goal should be to ensure they stay. Customer loyalty must be at the forefront of planning, which involves careful personalisation. Site designers will need to make additional efforts to ensure that individual search queries are always correctly interpreted based on the visitor’s previous search or purchase history. They should also initiate a meaningful loyalty scheme, giving the visitor an additional incentive to return. Perhaps they can set up a wish list functionality, so if a particular product does come back into stock or becomes available due to seasonality, an SMS or email message is sent to the consumer with the detail.
Investigating Your Own Online Grocery Store
These are just some of the ways that a food retailer can make their website the best place to buy groceries online. So, if you are ready to roll your sleeves up now and explore these virtual sales opportunities, you will want to work with experts in the field. After all, there’s quite a lot of work involved if you want to set up the best app to buy groceries online. And you’ll also need to master more SEO for e-commerce so your new portal will be visible to as many people as possible.
Reaching Out for Assistance
For any help with selling fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) online in these situations, turn to our experienced team at Duelling Pixels. We will help you leverage your website to serve your customer base, attract an audience and grow your business through this new era.