Online Grocery: Building For The Future

Stuart Elmes



The grocery industry has remained stubbornly analog for the past few decades, in spite of the nudges of both scrappy start-ups and massive conglomerates. Customers enjoyed supermarket experiences. They didn’t trust random employees to select their steaks and produce, or they were put off by large fees for delivery and the clumsy implementation of emergent technology. But the ball has finally started to roll down the hill, as wrinkles have been smoothed out, fees have shrunk, and companies have taken the dramatic step of actually listening to consumers and giving them what they want.

Online grocery shopping has gained traction over the past couple of years, and as 2020 dawns it’s gaining a great deal of momentum. It appears inevitable that the majority of grocery purchases will be happening online in the coming years, so how can brands build solid foundations for online grocery success?

It’s The Customer, Stupid!

Online Grocery: Building for the future

We’ve been preaching the gospel of convenience for years now. As consumer trust in brands and retailers erodes, your greatest chance at building loyalty and gaining appreciation is making the lives of your customers easier. Your goals should no longer be limited to providing a quality product or offering low prices. You need to focus on experiences, and finding ways to offer services that will lead to actual improvements in the quality of life of shoppers. And one of the greatest gifts you can offer people in this day and age is time. We’re all busier than we used to be, and fiercely protective of every moment of free time we can squeeze out of a day.

Luckily for you, technology has enabled brands and retailers to offer a wide variety of services which will make shopping for groceries a breeze. Across the FMCG landscape, we’re seeing companies experiment with innovative services and technologies which will allow you to buy products without setting foot in the supermarket. Every major retailer is now offering curbside pickup for app-based purchases. Amazon’s recent inclusion of unlimited, free Fresh deliveries for Prime members was, in fact, a response to competitors like Target and Wal-Mart offering cheaper, more customer friendly services. 

Most of these retailers are currently losing money on their delivery programs, but they’ve realized that investing in these services is absolutely necessary for future success. As emerging technologies make grocery delivery faster, easier, more reliable and more profitable, relying solely on brick and mortar will become a losing proposition. Kroger is currently America’s largest grocery retailer, but its CEO Rodney McMullen has realized where the future lies. As he said this summer: 

Work starts with our customer obsession focus… we're building an omnichannel platform to serve customers with anything, anytime, anywhere…Our customers don't distinguish between an in-store and online experience. Rather, they typically have a food-related need or a problem to solve and want the easiest, most seamless solution. 

All of the biggest players in the industry have realized that customers won’t be satisfied with the same old thing. They want to get groceries through their phones, digital assistants, and their desktop at the office. They’ll soon expect one hour delivery on anything they order. They’ll want to be able to click on an Instagram photo and have all the ingredients for that dish show up in a shopping cart on your app. And if you aren’t offering them this level of service and convenience, somebody else will.     

Technology You Need

Online grocery: building for the future

One of the most convenient services you can offer your consumers is the automatic replenishment of staples. From razor blades to toilet paper to milk, AI and data will enable you to accurately predict when a customer will run out of a regularly used item, and ship it to them without them lifting a finger. As the “Internet of Things” becomes a reality, automatic replenishment will become more sophisticated, accurate, and convenient. Washing machines will be able to order detergent and espresso makers will know when to order another pound of coffee beans. Ensuring that your brand can offer the public the easiest ways to replenish supplies of your product will ensure steady sales. 

As purchases migrate online, investing in your supply chain will become crucially important. Investing in forward-looking technologies offered by innovative companies like Ocado, whose automated warehouses are already impressive, is worth considering. Advances in AI and machine learning are likely to revolutionize logistics. What seems cutting-edge today will probably seem both commonplace and necessary tomorrow. Investing in AI and data will also allow you to track inventory more closely, and eliminate waste, and these can be game-changers in an industry with razor-thin profit margins.

The time has also come to get a 360-degree look at your customers. According to a recent study from Salesforce, the average brand uses “39 disparate front-end systems to manage consumer engagement. This includes point-of-sale, mobile, call center, eCommerce, email marketing, social, and content management.” But with customers using a variety of paths to purchase, including voice, mobile, in-store, and online, keeping track of an individual’s desires, needs, and shopping history can offer you a massive advantage in retaining them over the years. Salesforce’s study found that there was a strong correlation between investing in data and success, with industry-leading brands investing almost twice as much effort and money into acquiring and analyzing customer data.

Adimo Can Help!

online grocery: building for the future

Whether you’re looking for a way to leverage the convenience of voice shopping, create easily shoppable content like recipes or videos, or find the technologies that will allow you to compete with Amazon for eCommerce consumers, Adimo is here to help. Our add to basket technology will enable you to instantly offer customers a seamless, frictionless path to purchase. The future begins today!