- A new Deloitte study found that more than half of grocery sales — 51% — are now digitally influenced, reports Chain Store Age. This pushes the grocery sector closer to other categories like health, apparel, home and auto in terms of digital influence.
- Still, grocers need to do more to meet consumer demands. For example, only 31% of shoppers said that digital makes grocery shopping easier, versus 42% across other retail categories.
- Consumers are seeking convenience, curation and integration across their grocery shopping journey, whether they shop online or offline, according to Deloitte. “Consumer products companies and retailers who create those digital touchpoints have a much better shot at getting the shopper’s attention and loyalty before competitors, many of whom aren’t even in the game yet,” Barb Renner, vice chairman and U.S. consumer products leader, said in a statement.
The shopping journey today takes many twists and turns as consumers move from clicks to bricks with relative ease to browse and ultimately buy. Researching online and shopping offline is the new norm — including when buying groceries.
The new Deloitte study found digital will continue to play an even greater role in grocery, but many CPG companies and retailers are missing opportunities. This suggests that grocers should be investing in their websites, mobile and other digital channels — especially as the path-to-purchase increasingly blurs the lines between the physical and digital worlds.
A well-designed and easy-to-navigate website is critical. Grocery shoppers conduct a growing amount of pre-shopping research online and expect information — whether it’s product descriptions, price comparisons, digital coupons, nutritional content, recipe suggestions, or ratings and reviews — to be readily available at the click of a button. And grocers must be prepared too with e-commerce capabilities as more grocery shopping moves online.
Mobile's in-store influence — across all retail sectors, not just grocery — is also growing 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.
The implication is that grocers must have top-notch mobile apps. While some market leaders are investing in digital and mobile to ensure they’re ready to capture consumers who want to shop anytime and anywhere, other grocers may be left playing catch-up.
Busy next-generation consumers are expected to increasingly seek out checkout-free shopping via their smartphones and mobile apps. Although still in the early stages, consumers can now visit a store — like Amazon Go and a handful of Walmart ‘Scan and Go’ test stores — self-scan items with a smart phone app, then merely tap the phone to pay and walk out the door.
The payoff to capture digital consumers can be huge. Deloitte found that consumers who embrace digital options — whether e-coupons, on-demand local delivery or mobile checkout — convert 9% more often than those who don’t use digital in the lead-up to their purchase decision.
Kroger is one leading grocer that consistently reports gains in new digital customers and visits, while growth in mobile visits is outpacing overall digital growth. It's not surprising since the mobile app is where Kroger really excels in its use of data mining and shopper analytics to personalize promotions and deliver great value and relevancy to shoppers on a one-to-one basis. It’s this personalized pricing through e-coupons and mobile app offers that helps retain a steady base of loyal customers by keeping the retailer price-competitive against Walmart and discounters like Aldi and Lidl.
Like it or not, grocery shopping is starting to head down the digital path. If other categories are any indication, digital disruption will move very quickly. Retailers must get on board by making the necessary investments — or risk being left behind.