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Technology has changed the way we live today and the role of eCommerce stores is influencing us greatly across different sectors. Grocery is one of them. Till, few years back, the concept of grocery stores were not much popular among people, however, the convenience it offers just like its counterparts, has turned it to be a successful business today.
As per Statista the online grocery market in the US is expected to reach $29.7 billion in 2021 from $14.2 billion in 2017.
The role of online grocery business has greatly increased after the onset of pandemic. With more people looking at online grocery stores as an option for non-contact purchases, the future of such business will be bright.
However, just like any other business, it comes with its set of challenges too…
Challenges faced in an online grocery business
Convenience of shopping is one of the main reasons why people prefer online grocery stores compared to the brick-and mortar ones. Something that seconds the decision is the big discounts and offers that accompanies the shopping experience. However, it is not that easy for the online grocery stores to make high profits while giving away bigger discounts. Moreover, it is not that easy to convince the shoppers that buying vegetables and fruits online can be good in quality too.
Grocery stores can solve this issue to a greater extend by increasing the number of non-perishable items more at their online store. They can easily sell out the perishable ones at their in-stores and the inventory for both -online and offline stores can be managed accordingly. Later as time passes, they can keep on increasing the number of perishable items online by building trust among their customers. This will help them manage their profit margins while keeping their business afloat.
If you wish to take your local grocery business to the next level and come up with your online store, you will need to be clear about certain things. The same has been explained below:
Be open to experiments
Pandemic has led people to go ahead and choose various online shopping options to satisfy various needs. This means shoppers are now open to more experiments from your side and thereby you can go ahead with new approaches to come up with an efficient sales operation plan for your online store. So as a grocer if you have any untested idea that you strongly feel can benefit you, discuss the same with your eCommerce development team to know about its implementation possibilities.
Keep an eye for competition
When you are coming up with an online business you will have the chance to enter newer markets with ease. Keep in mind that you will not be alone there. So, know the key players in the market whom you will be competing against with. Try to know what they are offering and how they are dealing their customers. This will give you an insight about what all you should be doing to win hearts of the shoppers.
Choose your eCommerce platform
The first hurdle you need to jump when developing your eCommerce solution for grocery business is choosing the right eCommerce platform. Based on the kind of business you have, your budget, future expansion plans- all together should be considered when you are choosing the eCommerce platform. You need to look for the eCommerce platform that will provide you the necessary features through their different eCommerce tools. If yours is a start-up with low budget then you should think about choosing an open source like BigCommerce or Shopify. WooCommerce, Magento or Shopware should be your solution if yours is a mid-sized business. Now, if you need a solution that should be suitable for an enterprise-grade grocery business, you should try out one from Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Magento Commerce Cloud or SAP Hybris.
Multi-vendor management panel
As an online grocery shop, you will be acquiring products from different vendors just like you have been doing for your local store. However, local store has a limited customer base and things are not same in case of your online store. In case you plan to target some other geographical location, then you will have to add in products that shoppers there in love. This means acquiring more products from different vendors. So, you can easily manage your eCommerce business and its vendors at a single place by choosing to have a multi-vendor management system included in the admin panel of your eCommerce store. This will help you keep all the related communications and transactions listed too.
The moment when someone visits your store for the first time you can come up with a welcome popup. This notification will ask the user to choose their city. This will let you satisfy the needs of the customer as per their preferences. Such a feature can be really helpful when you are providing your service to multiple cities.
The online grocery store Instacart asks for the zipcode or address of the visitor before they can go ahead with shopping. This helps them show the right products that the customers would like to buy from them.
Categorize your products clearly
Groceries shopping is one of the most regular purchases of any household and so simplifying them saves much time for many. When you plan to come up with your online grocery store, just be sure you categorize the products properly into different groups.
For example, you can see how Just Haat has managed to categorize the grocery items into different groups.
Again, the products have been divided into sub-categories to make shopping easy for the shoppers and to let them know what they can expect in the selected category.
Your visitor would like to know more about the contents of the item they are browsing. So, it would be good to offer them what they are looking for. Explain the contents in plain language that they will understand. Include information like ingredients, allergens information, weight, nutritional values, additives if any, cooking guidelines, storage information, etc.
Here in case of ASDA groceries, you will see a wide range of information covered under the umbrella of description. If we just take the example of Blue Dragon Medium Egg Noodles, you will see how it starts by net content, suitable consumers, allergy advice, additives, and ingredients.
It follows by nutritional values and product features.
Then you will have cooking guidelines, storage, further description, preparation and usage, product name, and storage type.
Shop online & collect in-store
One of the conveniences that you can offer to the shoppers when buying groceries is to let them shop online and then collect from store later. This service will let them shop products from the online store as they please and then checkout. After that products can be collected from the local store.
Appy Shop is one such store that offers click & collect option to the customers.
Groceries are things that people shop repeatedly. This means they will be visiting your store again if they are happy with the first order. So, you can turn their experience better by providing them an option to repeat the items you ordered first. This will save them from going through the trouble of searching and shopping again. This can be done by maintaining shopping history.
Again, there are some products that you will need daily or say regularly. You can even let customers shop for them regularly through a prepaid service. This service can work well for people who are looking for some easy and instant shopping options.
One of the leading grocery stores named BigBasket provides bbdaily service on their app which you can try out on your eCommerce grocery store-
It is a kind of subscription offer where the user will add in their address and add money to the wallet first. After that they can choose the product that they would like to get delivered daily. The best thing is that the customers also get to choose the time when they want the product delivered.
Invest in app development
Customers are bound to shop repeatedly for grocery items. So, you can simplify their shopping experience by coming up with a mobile app for your online grocery business. Include a ‘Repeat Items’ feature in the app along with other important features. This way shoppers can easily find the items that they wish to buy again with ease. This will save their time, improve customer shopping experience while boost your revenue.
On your online grocery store, you should think about offering membership service to your customers. This will let them avail of special service offered by you. Receiving better service from a brand will encourage your customers to shop more from you. Such special benefits can be in the form of some percentage discounts, free delivery, new product alerts, etc.
Just check out how Lidl is pleasing its regular customers by offering special discounts:
Product consumption period
Grocery products come with certain period of consumption and this matters the most in case of perishable items. This way, letting the customers know the period for which they can use the product will help them make informed decision. Such an information can be described on the product page along with other details.
Let’s see the same in case of products listed at FreshDirect. Take the example of Just FreshDirect Local Angus RWA 90% Lean Ground Beef, Premium Packaging. Here it says that the product stays fresh for a period of 3 days after it has been delivered.
Offer flexible delivery timings
Try to offer flexible delivery slots to your customers when shopping from you. People generally shop for groceries every week and you can offer them to select delivery slots for their order arrival. Such a service feature can be offered to the customer who signs up at your store and pays an amount for the service.
Just check out how FreshDirect does that for their shoppers!
Make use of smart filters
The main idea behind coming up with an online store is to boost the sales of your eCommerce business while for customers, it is their best chance to shop easily, conveniently, and stress-free. So, when you offer smart filters in your store you will enhance customer experience. Smart filters can be set based on different parameters for different product categories. This way customers can easily choose what they want to look for and get a range of items that fall under the set filters.
If you look at the below example of Just Haat store, you will see that you can browse Frozen Ready Meals based on different set filters like Price Range, Category, Manufacturer, Vendor, Product Tags, and Availability.
Limited time deals
Whether the items are going out of stock or whether there are just few left, grocery stores have the tendency to sell items on great discounted prices. Sometimes, based on its demand in the market, the deals are available for limited period. You can also think about coming up with something similar for your store and offer limited time deals that will create a sense of urgency among the shoppers to shop before the deal expires.
One of such good examples is from Lidl where on the homepage you will see a special section just for such limited time offers.
Presence on social media is inevitable in these times. So, think about using it for your online grocery business in different ways. Customers love to stay connected with the brand to know more about new deals and offers, to know when new stocks come, and to win goodies from time to time. With grocery items being critical for every household finding audience will not be difficult, rather offering the best will be. So, leave no stone unturned – try your best through social media marketing too.
You can offer your customers the chance to share their most loved products at your store direct from the product page. This means your product will be viewed by their friends and followers on their social media profile. Encourage them to share their positive experiences and even pictures of the same. This will do good for your business.
Use your social media page to interact with your customers and even visitors. Use social media to introduce new products, festive deals, seasonal offers, contests, etc. Make the best use of the platforms to connect with them, win their heart.
Just see how Ocado uses its social media page to connect with the users.
Just like any other online business, user reviews and feedback play crucial role in case of your grocery business too. Users check reviews on product pages before they shop for a product. The item with more stars and positive reviews are preferred by customers. Customers need assurance and such feedback and reviews offer the same. You can encourage customers to give you feedback for the products and their shopping experience once the products have been delivered. You can send them an email asking for the same.
Here at Tesco you will see that the product page contains stars as a part of customer reviews. Apart from that, the store even asks for your review once you have bought the product.
Sign up and subscribe
Encourage your shoppers to sign-up at your store and subscribe for your emails. The emails can be in the form of newsletters, latest offers, seasonal deals, festive deals, contents, etc. This is one of the most successful ways of marketing your business and its products. You can even provide coupon codes to the users within the emails related to discounts and thus encourage more sales.
Just see how Boxed is encouraging their shoppers to register their email address and win best deals!
Unlike any other business ideas, a grocery store deals with large range of products coming from different brands and suppliers. So, when you plan to turn your offline business into an online one, you need to organize them well. This is important not just for your sake, but for your customers too.
Our years of expertise in offering efficient and effective eCommerce solutions will help your grocery business build dynamic solution. We know what exactly works for you and keeping that in mind, our team will curate the best suited solution for your business.