Time and again when online shopping is brought up some Negative Nancy inevitably says “What about produce?” like they are the first person to think of this potential problem. Setting aside the fact that the average person really doesn’t know how to pick out ripe produce, stores train their staff in how to spot a good tomato. If a store is going to be really successful in the online shopping game then they will have a well trained staff who know what produce to select for you. Despite hearing this, some customers will remain unconvinced.
To combat this Walmart has patented the “Fresh Online Experience”. According Supermarket News, customers would be able to “order produce, meat and bakery items online using stock photos, but then have the opportunity to approve the actual items being purchased via image scans (either two- or three-dimensional) sent to them by Walmart store workers.” After the customer’s approval the items wold be tagged with an “edible watermark” to show it was indeed the item the customer selected.
Perhaps this technology will become the standard. However, it seems like Walmart is throwing a lot of money and time at a subset of online shopping customers that could be won over in other ways.
It’s important to show customers the items you selected when they come to pick up their purchases. This way there won’t be any surprises when they get home. Even before that, however, allow customers to choose from a variety of options when selecting their produce.
It all comes down to training. Train your pickers to select the correct ripeness and not just the first items they see. Building the trust of your online shoppers will notonly keep them coming back, but it will save you time and money as well. This Fresh Online Experience is great in theory. How long will you have to wait to get approval from the customers? Add that to the time it will take to go pick new items. Now consider the cost it will take to implement. Simply training your staff to pick the correct items and showing them to the customer at pick up will accomplish the same goals. It seems counterintuitive to try and solve a tech problem with a low tech solution. The best way for retailers to compete with the likes of Walmart is to foster a sense of community between your store and customers. Go that extra mile and show off your expertise when they are picking up their order. Show them their produce and make sure it is all to their liking. They will appreciate one less step in the order buying process.