Independent retailers are finding they don’t need huge IT departments to launch effective online shopping programs.
That was the message from top executives at independent operators Wade’s Market Center and PSK Supermarkets, who outlined innovative routes to building e-commerce programs and omnichannel efforts. They spoke during a panel presentation Monday at The NGA Show in Las Vegas.
“Having an online program enables us to differentiate from competitors,” said James Cheney, president and CEO of Wade’s, which operates a 51,000-square-foot store in western New York. “By starting a program and being first in the market, we became more relevant and got lots of publicity.”
Wade’s partnered with Rosie, a company that builds and maintains retailer websites and facilitates efforts by using the retailers’ data files. Customers shop and pay online, and the retailer’s team picks the items and prepares for in-store pickup or local delivery. The process has become so efficient that it now takes only about 10 minutes to pick each order. About 70% of orders are now for local delivery.
Rosie helped Wade’s build its omnichannel approach, including with the website, mobile presence and digital marketing. The website is “elegantly simple” and allows customers to sort products by a range of criteria, Cheney said.
Another option is local pickup at a very small satellite store about 20 miles from the main location, a concept that can be rolled out to other locations to grow market share, he said.
“Independents shouldn’t be afraid of e-commerce and online,” Cheney said. “Everyone should be doing this.”
Noah Katz, VP, PSK Supermarkets, which operates stores in New York City and upstate New York, said his company fine-tuned its e-commerce strategy last year as a way to battle giant competitors ranging from FreshDirect to Peapod.
PSK, which operates stores under banners including Foodtown and Freshtown, partnered with Freshop to build and operate its e-commerce platform.
“The technology involved is available to independents,” he said. “It has advanced to the point where it’s essentially plug and play.”
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The website is mobile-friendly and facilitates online ordering with pickup or delivery. Customers can shop using a clickable circular or go directly to category-specific departments.
Brian Moyer, CEO, Freshop, told SN that a retailer’s website “should directly reflect the store experience, such as having a high-level of customer service.” As an example of customer service, he said that if a shopper fails to complete online checkout, the retailer should reach out by email or phone to find out what went wrong.
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