David Wilkinson is the President and General Manager for Retail at NCR Corp., where he is responsible for creating and executing NCR’s overall vision and strategy for the Retail industry. He is focused on helping Retailers thrive and deliver on their brand promise in a digital-first world by leveraging NCR’s unique software, hardware and services capabilities. The views expressed here are those of the author.
With today’s consumers expecting more shopping options and control over their experience, how will your grocery chain respond? Offering digital shopping is one no-brainer.
E-commerce solutions are becoming essential for grocery chains, with online grocery purchases growing 54% in 2020, an approximate $30 billion increase. Customers concerned with efficiency, convenience and safety want to access their local grocery chain using their desktop computers or other mobile devices. And advancements in e-commerce solutions allow retailers to sell products, advertise and incentivize their customers under one umbrella.
But not all of these solutions are created equal.
If you’re ready to take the shopping experience to the omnichannel level, here are five things to look for in reliable e-commerce solutions.
1. Keep control of your brand
You’ve worked hard to make a name for your grocery store chain and develop a brand voice that resonates with customers. Whether shopping online or in-store, consumers should be able to distinguish your business from your competition, and your branding plays a major role. Even seemingly minor details such as brand colors can increase brand recognition by as much as 80%.
Yet some online grocery delivery service companies place their own branding front and center, so shoppers think of them rather than the grocery store from which they’re shopping. This back-burner arrangement is anything but ideal. You’re providing the products and services, so you should control how they’re presented. Promoting your brand can create trust between you and your customers and encourage shoppers to explore your online buying and browsing options, while giving you greater control over pricing.
Remember, look for an e-commerce solution that prioritizes your business rather than its own software. Doing so enables your branding to be distinguishable and consistent no matter the channel.
2. Take charge of your customer experiences
Customers using mobile grocery services expect a seamless online experience from start to finish. From the moment they open the app, to their checkout and delivery, your online or mobile grocery platform should be quick, easy and memorable.
There are plenty of e-commerce software options on the market, each giving you different levels of control over your customer’s shopping experience. You may want to customize what your shoppers see and how they interact with your online or mobile store. While some e-commerce solutions have difficult to-tailor processes, others prioritize personalization.
For example, online and mobile e-commerce software can present opportunities to sell more of your products. When customizing your e-commerce software, some solutions offer you the ability to implement a number of landing pages that include weekly ads and sales, incentivizing customers with discounts or other promotions and converting website and app visits into more purchases.
With more control, however, comes more responsibility for management and maintenance of your software. That means you will have to decide how much time and resources you can dedicate to development, security or other technical details involved in your mobile and online applications. You will also want to decide what features your customers can access, how brand voice is used throughout the application and which promotions are prioritized. All of this contributes to customer experience. Ideal solutions will work with you to find a workable balance, providing benefits of fully integrated e-commerce software while keeping you in the driver’s seat.
3. Get superior service without the “big player” cost
There’s nothing more frustrating than mediocre customer service or software that fails to perform. Great software, backed by accessible technical support, is key to setting up and maintaining your mobile store. Still, you have to make sure these services fit within your budget.
Many e-commerce software solutions boast an intuitive user interface, great security or customer support — but may come with a hefty price tag. For example, a mobile platform can be a lucrative addition to your grocery store, but initial setup costs are prohibitive for some businesses.
Mid-size grocery chains, for instance, will need a mobile software solution that can handle several thousand daily customers making hundreds of thousands of purchases. You will also want to account for promotional landing pages, built-in loyalty programs and more sophisticated branding and advertising than smaller, single-location stores.
Remember, e-commerce solutions open the door to more customers and much higher revenue, which can offset some of the cost involved in implementing an application for your grocery chain. But even if your budget is tight, you shouldn’t sacrifice quality. It is possible to design a user-friendly mobile shopping experience that won’t break the bank.
4. Choose software that’s scalable
Every business owner wants growth. In a few years, your business may change in size, scope or expand service or product offerings. It is important your online shopping software can keep up.
For some software providers, developers would have to restructure your e-commerce application to keep up, which can be expensive and cause service disruptions. Do your due diligence before choosing an e-commerce solution. Good mobile software will meet your current needs while providing opportunities for larger inventories, more complex features and higher volumes of customers.
Make sure, too, that your e-commerce solution integrates with existing store systems, so customers have a consistent shopping experience in every channel from day one.
5. Make sure your mobile solution provider understands your needs
Mobile e-commerce solutions span several industries — from fashion to technology. As such, some are designed for a specific vertical. If you’re interested in expanding your grocery chain, choose one that is built for the grocery business.
Mobile e-commerce grocery solutions often offer visual catalogs, recipe builders, item descriptions and the like — all features aimed to improve your online store’s usability and function. Some software options also allow customers to create shopping lists or save commonly used items to their account for easy access. Your own e-commerce store can offer as many or as few features as you would like and can be changed according to your needs.
For mid-size grocery chains, your mobile solution will be held to high standards for ease of use, product offerings and a clear brand voice. Your online and mobile software should reflect this, while leaving room for customization as food retail trends change over time.
Move forward as online orders increase
The trend of ordering groceries online will continue as long as consumers find it so safe and convenient. For grocers looking to tap into this growing trend, choose an e-commerce solution provider that enables more control over brand, customer experience, cost, scalability and more.