“With household internet access continuing to increase, the customer base for online grocery shopping is widening, while other technological innovations such as the advent of smart phones is further benefiting the market” (Source: “Global Market Review of Online Grocery Retailing” report available at www.MarketResearch.com).
The grocery retailing industry has many opportunities inherent in it for online marketing, and the competitive advantages that it would provide. While local brick-and-mortar storefronts will always be necessary – due to the perishable nature of many items, the bulk and expense of shipping groceries and the occasional need to purchase something immediately – there are ways in which the internet can be leveraged to add to consumer convenience and increased profits.
Providing online shopping is a possibility for grocery retailers. It’s very different than dry-goods retailers such as books, music, shoes and apparel – or services being marketing such as travel. “To date, sales of food and drinks over the internet have yet to make the same impact observed in other parts of the consumer goods industry, most notably books, clothing and electronic items such as computer equipment” (Source: “Global Market Review of Online Grocery Retailing” report available at www.MarketResearch.com). One way to leverage the internet – and I have seen this at my local ShopRite – is to purchase groceries online and pick them up at the local store. The shopper clicks on the items they want in an online virtual market, which are then gathered by a “personal shopper” in the store. The shopper then drives over to the market, pays at the customer service counter near the front of the store, from which an associate will even wheel the cart out and load the bags into their vehicle.
The potential is also there for personalization. By tracking online purchases, a profile can be developed with shorter lists of preferred items from which selections can be made. There could be a “standard template order” (bread, milk, eggs, etc.) or whatever the consumer buys on a regular basis – which could provide a starting point, then be tweaked or added to by the consumer depending on their needs at any particular time.
The system could become so sophisticated so as to proactively tell a consumer of an upcoming discount or sale price on an item. In this form of integrated marketing, For example, I’m entering an order and going to put an item on there that I usually buy. The smart technology has already prepared an item profile, and can tell me that it is going on sale in a few days, in case I want to wait to take advantage of the lower price. It could also inform me of a manufacturer’s coupon I may not be aware of – and send me to that supplier’s website for a printable or scannable coupon.
Online shopping can reach more customers. Perhaps there are elderly, handicapped or other shut-ins for whom it is inconvenient to shop in a grocery store. So maybe they let a relative do their shopping, which would be at the store of the relative’s choosing. Now, the consumer can bring their business to the store of their own choosing, and simply ask someone to pick it up. Or perhaps they can drive, just not walk around the store. This could also increase the order size, since someone will be pushing it around the store and loading it into their vehicle for them. The opportunity also exists for a store to provide or arrange for delivery service to the consumer’s home. Increasing customer loyalty is another way in which grocery retailers can utilize online marketing to increase business.
Many stores already have store cards with store discounts and coupons attached to them, as well as incentive goals to be reached with benefits attached. With online marketing, all of this information can be tracked. The coupons that print at the register and many people throw away or misplace, can now all be stored virtually and in one convenient place to be accessed when needed. The removal of expired coupons could also be automated.
The opportunities for marketing in this space are vast, and we have only scratched the surface.