Grocers see a boost in digital engagement with shoppers
- More than 63% of shoppers interact with a supermarket digitally, up from 56% in 2017, according to a new study from Retail Feedback Group that polled 1,200 shoppers.
- About 55% of shoppers report checking a digital circular, while 47% create digital shopping lists and 44% look for special promotions digitally. Other digital activities include hunting down recipes (25%), finding nutritional advice (11%) and perusing blogs (9%).
- Just 12% of survey respondents are ordering groceries online for either curbside pickup or delivery, but adoption rates fluctuate based on geography and demographics. About 18% of urban dwellers use the services compared to only 7% in small towns and rural regions, and around 18% of millennials engage in online grocery shopping versus just 6% of Baby Boomers.
Digital engagement between supermarkets and shoppers continues to increase, but there is still work to be done to convert the scrolling, tweeting and texting into dollars. While the study shows that customers are using online tools, grocery companies will need to ensure their efforts in the digital space have a focused strategy behind them to help drive shopping trips, store sales and customer loyalty.
Grocery companies across the country have been laser-focused on digital initiatives that will generate shopper engagement, from e-commerce offerings to digital advertising. Walmart has made big investments in its digital strategy, using grocery to drive e-commerce and draw new customers. Most recently Walmart launched voice-activated grocery shopping and expanded its Austin, Texas technology center as part of a partnership with Microsoft.
Meanwhile, Albertsons Companies’ digital media platform has delivered as high as two times return on ad spending over the past year, and Peapod Digital Labs partnered with Deliv to extend same-day grocery delivery capabilities.
Kroger has embarked on several efforts across digital, from launching a new health app, OptUp, to rolling out digital shelves across hundreds of stores. During a talk at Groceryshop in Las Vegas in October, Kroger’s chief technology officer Yael Cosset said that engaging shoppers digitally, whether through e-commerce, mobile apps or other channels, deepens their loyalty to the company.
"We want to be the most relevant and we want to be the retailer you think about for any of your grocery and food needs," Cosset said.
Retailers are also paying attention to the role of mobile in their digital strategies as mobile device engagement continues to increase. About 49% of retailers saying that in-store mobile experience is a major focus as shoppers increasingly use their smartphones to aid their shopping endeavors.
While online grocery adoption still appears to be low, with just 12% of respondents saying they use pickup or home delivery, it is projected to grow significantly in the coming years as Generation Z consumers move into adulthood, and as innovation makes online shopping easier and cheaper.
The Retail Feedback Group found that social media is a relatively uncharted opportunity, but that there is good reason to allocate more marketing dollars to this digital channel. While only 30% of shoppers follow their primary supermarket on a social media channel, this should increase as Gen Z comes of age. With an estimated $143 billion in spending power, this demographic is heavily focused on mobile devices, and often engages with apps and social media to find new products and experiences.
Social media also offers the ability for dialogue between grocers and shoppers, with 41% of survey respondents praising a store via social media and 22% noting a criticism. The key for success in social media engagement will be a company's ability to respond to shoppers quickly and thoughtfully.