Future Insights: Grocery eCommerce and the Evolution of Supermarkets

Sep 22, 2020

In 2020 the relationship between consumers and shops has drastically changed. With millions of households under lockdown, many have experienced the need to shop online for their groceries. This shift in consumer behaviour has created an unexpected surge for online orders and at home delivery, a change that is likely here to stay. In this article we’ll take a closer look at trends and success factors driving the grocery eCommerce industry forward.

A change in behaviour. 

Modern day survival skills include purchasing essential necessities and protection as priority. This can easily be accounted for as the main reason why food and groceries are in such high demand today. Over the course of this year, grocery sales in the US have increased dramatically, with panic shopping at an all time high. With a reported 84% of Americans who fear contracting the coronavirus while visiting a brick & mortar store, it’s no longer about providing a tailored or time-saving service to the consumer. This has put grocery retailers under pressure to introduce an eCommerce solution or scale up their existing digital business to handle the sudden influx of online orders. 

A study conducted by Coresight Research found that Amazon, Walmart, Target and Whole Foods are among the leading destinations for shoppers in the United States. Because many already offered curbside or in store  pick-up and at home delivery prior to the pandemic, they were already consumer favorites.  The good news? because demand is still on the rise, experts say that grocery eCommerce still has room for many retailers to grow their business, as shoppers continue to test and evaluate which retailers fit best into their budget and lifestyle. 

A handful of questions 

Grocery retail companies have many challenges to face when it comes to setting up an eCommerce site correctly, chief among them the inventory display. Whether you are a mix of franchised and independent goods or focus on local products, consistency is difficult form an assortment, sales pricing and promotion stand point. It’s also challenging  to balance profitability when considering the costs of packaging for curbside pick-up and at home delivery. In order to build or scale a grocery eCommerce site correctly tough questions need to be addressed by retailers, below is our take on those that should be prioritized:

  • Products: What types of products will you offer? How will you organize them? How can consumers filter through them? How will they be priced? (weight/item)  Can you/How do you add promotions? 
  • Stock: How will you manage out-of-stock items?How to introduce new assortments? Will you offer replacement products? How frequently will you replenish your inventory?
  • Service Area: What are your service hours? What storage conditions will you provide? Will you have proximity restrictions?
  • Delivery: What delivery methods will you offer? Will you outsource delivery? What guarantees will you offer? What tracking method will you provide? 
  • Customer Support: What are your service hours? How can consumers reach you? How will you respond to consumers? 
  • Payment processing: What payment methods will you offer? Can you upsell guarantees? How will you manage refunds?

A diverse solution

Reducing the anxiety of not controlling inventory, packaging and payment processing, some retailers might opt for building a subscription program. These programs will allow you to customize a user experience for your niche of consumers, providing specific services. Surrounded by internet enabled devices, it’s not hard to imagine intelligent pantry containers that will automatically add missing items to our grocery list, to then order those missing items from our favorite retailers. The path to becoming a favorite can be paved by offering your products as a subscription based service. 

Today these programs have grown to include meal preparation delivery (where you send ingredients and cooking instructions to consumers) non-perishable kits (for skincare, cleaning products etc.), product specific refills (coffee, water, etc.) and full blown grocery delivery based on proximity and lifestyle (local, vegan etc.). Once again, the success of the solution means asking some tough questions, but in this case it’s all about who is your niche and what they are looking for.

Our takeaway from these difficult questions and revealing trends is that having to respond to consumer demands from the industry requires a solid business plan and robust eCommerce solutions that can quickly and easily facilitate online shopping. Having a scalable UX solution is an advantage when it comes to getting there first and staying top of mind. While Resolve Digital cannot predict the future, we are certain that flexible and scalable solutions are the ones able to respond to any of the volatile demands of consumers. 

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