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Not If, But When & How – A Coffee With CART recap

In the never-ending evolution of marketing in the grocery landscape, ecommerce and mobile payment continue to be in the forefront of retailers’ minds. Rather than “if” these services will be implemented, the question is mainly when, and how, these offerings will become mainstream, both on the retail side and the consumer adoption side. The April 30th edition of Coffee with CART explored the significant considerations retailers must explore before implementation, but also how retailers encourage consumer education to facilitate adoption.

When looking at ecommerce programs, there are a variety of factors that must be considered. A main consideration is how those groceries will be obtained by the customer after the order is placed. Surely the ease and simplicity of the actual ordering is at the forefront of ecommerce, but the factor that can’t be overlooked is how consumers actually get their groceries. Does same-day delivery matter? Does delivery to a place of work or another location matter? Does delivery even have to be an option? Delivery adds a whole new scale of complexity to the offering that may only be scalable in population dense areas. With grocery ecommerce being somewhat new, or at least untested, in the majority of the U.S., retailers will continue to test new models and see which features prove most beneficial for consumers, while manageable financially.

Another new development that is only in the primary stages is how mobile payment, more specifically in the form of wearables (a la the Apple Watch) will continue to impact the way grocery business has been done. More and more big retailers are now accepting Apple Pay, but the competition for Apple never really was with the product, it was more so in the adoption of the service. Specific applications allowing payment and loyalty card storage make transactions easier than ever, surmounting even the need to take out a wallet or phone, as everything is housed compactly on the wrist. These wearables open up a playground for marketers, but Gary Hawkins noted that even more so than the phone, a watch on someone’s wrist is even more personal. Considering this, and the small screen, marketers will have to be driven to provide even more meaningful and relevant content. In Hawkins’ words, spamming a shopper on the watch is a sure death.

This evolution of payment has the potential to lead into more automated systems within the store as well. In a MarketingLand survey , millennials especially desire to see fewer human cashiers, and more automated systems for payment.  As the article mentions, the grocery industry has a significantly slow pace of change, so this may not happen for some time, but retailers and brands have to get used to what consumers want and react. What remains to be seen on this front is whether what customers say they want is actually what they really want, especially when it comes to customer service needs. That too will surely evolve, and retailers will have to adapt.

The bad news for grocery retailers is while technology has the opportunity to make things easier and more convenient for consumers, retailers must make some tough decisions to get there. These decisions are rooted in quickly-changing consumer preferences and may elicit large investments of both time and resources. The overarching reality is, whether it is ecommerce or mobile payment or something in the future no one has thought of yet, technology continues to challenge the status quo. Retailers have to jump at some point, making changes to their business model along the way, learning as they go, and always considering where the consumer is in the process.

Why do I work at AWG? “I value the opportunity to work with family businesses. My dad owned his own business for 35 years, so it is what I know and cherish. Plus, I love food, so thinking about it everyday is a huge plus.” -Kate