Grocery business owners and food retailers are among those businesses that have seen the most dramatic impact from novel coronavirus.
With the stockpiling trend still around and a move to online ordering steadily increasing, grocery sellers are scrambling to keep up.
Grocery Business Digital Transformation
Here are a few tips for grocery businesses owners to embrace digital transformation and win the quickly changing market.
But first, what has changed?
No one could really see it coming. Within the matter of a few weeks, the consumers around the world found themselves locked inside their houses under a mandatory lock-down.
Adjusting their lifestyle accordingly, consumers have reported embracing at-home activities like exercising and, of course, cooking. Another report done by Taste Wise claims that more parents cook at home with their kids and they are exploring all kinds of new cooking methods and recipes:
[A growing interest in cooking at home is good news for grocery businesses! Source: Taste Wise]
These behavioral shifts among consumers are bringing about changes in shopping habits. People move their spending habits from outside dining to grocery shopping.
Digital grocery shopping is growing at a rapid pace. According to Statista, at the dawn of COVID-19 quarantine in the United States, the share of online grocery shoppers increased from 11% in the first week of March to 37% in the fourth week of March.
In other words, novel coronavirus has more than tripled the amount of consumers willing to buy groceries online, in March alone. And, like working-from-home, online grocery shopping may well be turning into a long-term habit.
The pandemic has fractured shopping habits worldwide pushing people to discover more ways to buy food. Those new shopping methods may turn more convenient and time-saving, so there’s a good reason to believe online food ordering is only going to become more popular, quarantine or not.
Businesses are forced to look for ways to meet consumers where they are and engage with them in new ways.
Moving your business online
With the online grocery buying trend still on the rise, many food retailers are moving from brick n’ mortar stores to other forms of selling. While huge corporations like Walmart and Whole Foods have been embracing online selling for several years now, small businesses in the sector were notoriously slow to innovate.
Well, the coronavirus lockdown has changed everything.
Now innovation is the matter of survival.
Luckily there are a few solutions that make embracing the change easier.
One of the fastest ways to offer from-home shopping experiences is to partner with existing ecommerce solutions like Instacart, only this strategy comes with its own pitfalls (like an apparent inability to manage customers’ experiences which alienates even loyal buyers).
In other words, if you rely on Instacart too much, your customers are not really yours. They are customers of Instacart, and it is up to that platform’s algorithm and whims to determine whether those customers will return to your store or order food from elsewhere.
Still, Instacart is worth partnering with. If nothing else, it allows your store to be discovered by its users.
However if you want to encourage returning shoppers who form the foundation of any successful business, setting up your independent digital presence is a must. There are solid solutions for that too.
Self Point, for example, is a grocery digital transformation platform that seamlessly integrates your business operations into a mobile-first e-commerce experience.
Image source: Self Point
The solution is white-labeled, so you can customize its look and feel in accordance to your branding allowing your buyers to shop where they choose while enjoying the same experience in-store and online.
It helps grocery store business on many levels, including easy record keeping, easier order fulfillment, multi-channel solutions, fast integration with your existing website, mobile apps, etc.
Making the most of the circumstances
While the worldwide pandemic has put lots of businesses under the strain, for grocery businesses owners willing to innovate, there may be a silver lining in this situation.
Being forced to integrate digital solutions into their business operations, companies are tapping into new opportunities that have never known before.
New ways to engage their customers
Digital integration offers relationship management capabilities a brick n’ mortar store fails to provide. With email marketing, you can reach your customers any time to offer them special holiday deals and coupon codes.
But there’s more.
Smart email marketing solutions provide marketing automation features allowing you to reach your customer on their birthday, or adjust your offering based on their past interactions with your website.
Moosend offers a few powerful marketing automation features and templates that can automatically adjust your message based on local weather, customers’ interaction with your cart and more:
New ways to research their audience
Another huge advantage of going online for food and other retailers is an ability to research and understand their target customer.
Each web entity owns loads of data these days. There’s some sort of analytics solution installed on the majority of websites offering (and accumulating) data on their users’ browsing and buying patterns, hobbies, struggles and more.
An ability to own this data is a fantastic opportunity to cater to your target audience better by adjusting your product lines and even personalizing their experiences.
Finteza is an all-in-one solution here offering both web analytics and personalization and even the recently added ecommerce section allowing you to analyze your income flow and conversions:
[Image source: Finteza]
The global lock-down is finally coming to an end but the future is still uncertain. We don’t know yet how the shopping habits are going to change, going forward. And there’s a good reason to suspect the virus will be back soon.
It might be, our lives will never get back to normal, or rather there will be new normal which we will all get adapted to.
In these circumstances, small businesses in general – and grocery stores in particular – have no choice but to innovate. The future is uncertain but the present is pretty clear: we need to embrace the change to thrive.