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Grocery Shopping Goes Digital

Posted on: October 9, 2018 | Posted by: Leo Merle

How Convergence is Driving Grocers’ Customer Experience Strategy

Consumer behaviors are changing, and traditional grocery stores are feeling the pressure. Younger shoppers are ordering groceries online; families rely on the convenience of meal kit delivery services; and many once-loyal customers are now drawn to discount European stores like Lidl, which have recently opened their doors in the United States.

For traditional grocery stores in this competitive landscape, the path to differentiation is digital. According to a recent Deloitte survey, 33% of grocery shoppers already say that digital tools make grocery shopping easier—a statistic that will only increase as physical and digital grocery experiences continue to converge, especially in light of developments such as digital innovator Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods.

Let’s explore what digital-physical convergence in the supermarket looks like in practice, and how it serves as a key part of a forward-looking grocer’s customer experience strategy.

Streamlined Shopping

Deloitte estimates that 80% of shoppers have used a digital device to browse or research grocery products, and 29% of grocery consumers have tried products based on online recommendations or reviews. Through innovative customer engagement tools that merge these digital technologies and touchpoints with customers’ physical, in-store surroundings, grocers can streamline the entire shopping experience.

Unsure of what to make for dinner, Emily stops in the pasta aisle at her grocery store. She pulls out her smartphone to compare brands, and when she accesses the store’s website to view the pasta products, the page also presents her with the top-rated recipe for each product. Intrigued by healthy chicken pesto pasta, she clicks on the recipe and adds the rest of the ingredients to her grocery list.

For grocery stores, curated recommendations based on customers’ in-session browsing behaviors are also attuned to the recent trend toward mindful, ingredient-based shopping, which is a popular model for customers who wish to cook at home to increase savings and wellness.

Engagement that Empowers

Experiences that bridge the digital-physical divide don’t just take place while a shopper is inside the store; when properly personalized, they can actually draw shoppers into the supermarket in the first place.

Jim is running errands around town before hosting family for the upcoming holiday weekend. As he nears his local grocery store, he receives a push notification from the store’s app: “Ready for the holiday, Jim? Click here to check out our latest deals.” Now thinking that he should also stock up on snacks, he swings by the store to take advantage of the holiday discounts on his way home.

This sort of personalized engagement is exactly what customers need to feel like truly empowered consumers. In fact, 77% of surveyed grocery consumers use digital touchpoints—primarily the store’s website and app—to purposefully drive their own awareness of products and deals offered.

Grocery stores can create the type of converged experience outlined in this example with the help of Wi-Fi monitoring and other location-based technologies. When integrated with a Customer Engagement Platform, these tools allow stores to recognize when a customer has entered within range of their location and then push the customer a message that is engineered to resonate with their current context and mindset, or “influence zone.”

Strategic Savings & Sales

Convergence should also be considered part of a larger sales and customer experience strategy, designed to deliver targeted saving tools for customers as well as revenue-boosting tactics for grocery stores.

Cindy is taking her weekly trip to the grocery store to buy food for her family. Right as she enters the produce section, her smartphone buzzes with a notification from her store app—she opens it to find a coupon for a dollar off tomatoes, a staple that she purchases on a weekly basis. Pleased with the price drop, she chooses to buy more tomatoes than she generally would to stock up.
This highly-targeted deal was designed to resonate with this particular customer. Not only did it leverage data from her transaction history to determine what the right message for her would be, but it also used in-store geofencing technology to determine exactly when that message should be deployed for maximum impact.
While she is in the grocery store and browsing the store’s app for coupons, Cindy notices a good deal for
frozen lasagna that would be great for dinner that night. As she clips the the coupon and picks up the lasagna, the app shows her a deal for red wine that will go well with the lasagna. Cindy likes the idea and clips the recommended coupon as she heads for the wine section.

This convergence of digital and physical experiences to promote sales often results in higher revenue for grocery stores—19% of the time, the use of digital actually increases overall grocery spending.

Plus, grocery stores can be strategic about when, where, and how they choose to promote sales to customers. In this particular case, the store may be faced with an inventory overflow and needs to sell their excess tomatoes before they ripen.

Supercharging the Supermarket

The convergence of digital and physical experiences in the grocery store is already revolutionizing grocer’s customer experience strategy and the way that shoppers interact with food providers, and this trend will only more gain traction as grocery stores work to keep up with the “Amazon Effect” driven by today’s most engaging, customer-centric brands and enterprises.

Learn more about how ZineOne’s Customer Engagement Hub is blending digital and physical engagement so grocery and convenience stores can deliver the tailored experiences that matter to their customers.