- Ahold USA announced several milestones in its digital investments, including more than one million social media followers, a 179% spike in load-to-card digital coupon activations, and 20% year-over-year growth in the company’s web traffic, according to a news release.
- The company also noted that its “Fresh Stories,” which include video profiles of thirty suppliers, have been viewed more than 15 million times this year. A profile of a salmon farming outlet in Maine has gotten more than 200,000 views on YouTube.
- "Today, the consumer does not just shop one way,” said Carrie Bienkowski, CMO of Peapod, the company’s e-commerce arm. “She's finding meal inspiration online and either filling her grocery cart in the store or virtually."
At a time of unprecedented industry competition, grocers are looking for ways to build loyalty and get more bang for their retailing buck. Digital programs like mobile apps, social media promotions and online content are building bigger baskets while also enticing shoppers to try new items.
According to a recent Deloitte study, more than half of grocery sales — 51% — are now digitally influenced. This pushes the grocery sector closer to other categories like health, apparel, home and auto in terms of digital influence.
Mobile's in-store influence — across all retail sectors, not just grocery — is growing particularly fast, expanding from 5% in 2013 to 37% in 2016, according to Deloitte’s research. Grocers should take note that substantially more shoppers — 41% — turn to a grocery retailer’s app than the 27% who use a CPG brand app. About one-third of consumers surveyed say they use a smartphone during their shopping trip to help them choose a brand.
What’s so appealing about digital programs like those Ahold USA offers? Convenience is a big driver, but so is the inspirational appeal of so many recipes, targeted coupons and online content. More than ever, shoppers are starting their shopping journeys online, and they’re looking for meal ideas along with product specials to guide their store trips. Grocers like Ahold, along with others like Kroger that are upping their digital investments, are making sure to meet consumers in that online space at those critical decision times.
Ahold, like other large retailers, is also intent on communicating its values to customers. The retailer’s “Fresh Stories” are well-made shorts that connect the 780-store company to the unique people and places that source its products. It’s a side of the business that shoppers don’t see often enough, and it helps humanize a company that can feel very large and imposing.
As innovative as all these efforts are, there are many consumers that grocers haven’t yet reached with their digital programs. According to the Deloitte study, only 31% of shoppers said that digital makes grocery shopping easier, versus 42% across other retail categories. As supermarkets build out their digital investments, they have to make sure they’re aggressively driving trial and working to constantly improve their programs.