Online shopping continues to be one of the hottest topics in the grocery industry today.
Many retailers are hesitant to make an investment in an online shopping strategy today, but I will caution you on that approach. Recent moves by Walmart have made it very apparent that online shopping in the grocery industry isn’t a matter of IF, but WHEN.
Walmart made headlines last month when it announced it was closing 269 stores globally. But, that move was made in part to help strengthen “the e-commerce business and expanding Pickup services for customers.” And now, Walmart is moving full speed ahead, announcing that they will be investing nearly 1 billion dollars to expand their online shopping capabilities — including expanding their grocery items available online.
When Walmart rolls out their online grocery service, they’re likely to feature a no-fee pickup and low-fee delivery experience. But the independent retailer can compete very well in the online shopping space with mega retailers like Walmart. Customers shopping online at their local independent retailers will appreciate knowing their personal shoppers. Online shoppers are frequent repeat users of the service, so it’s likely the same personal shopper at your store will be picking Mrs. Smith’s order weekly. This develops a rapport between the personal shopper and your customers, a relationship that will never happen at the big box stores. And customers will appreciate that relationship. After all, it’s their food they are entrusting with the personal shopper to pick for them.
While Walmart is moving aggressively with online shopping, they aren’t they only competitor vying for wallet share from the online customer. Competition is quickly growing, with Hy-Vee, Kroger, Whole Foods and Publix, among many others, who are launching or testing online shopping today. And that doesn’t even include the non-traditional grocery competitors like Amazon Fresh or Google Express.
Now, more than ever, it’s time to seriously consider adding an online shopping service at your store. Gary Hawkins, founder and CEO of CART, recently said that online grocery shopping is “not an offensive play, it’s defensive”. It’s no longer about attracting new customers to your store, adding online shopping is much more about preventing customers from leaving your store to shop at a competitor who has, or will have, this service. While many retailers are unsure if online shopping will truly drive sales, or be profitable, consider the alternative of not offering this service. Those valuable customers will likely begin to shop elsewhere.
If you’d like to learn more about adding an online shopping service to your store, view our video presentation that reviews trends and solutions for online shopping. If you’re ready to take the next step with online shopping, we’re here to help guide you with finding the right provider, and help your online business is grow.