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The Stew and What It Means for You

Sometime in December, New York Times food writer Alison Roman published a new recipe for Spiced Chickpea Stew with coconut & turmeric. By late January, it had gone viral on Instagram, gaining millions of fans who gave the recipe it’s own hashtag: #TheStew. What made people want to try this recipe and share this post? It’s easy to make, hard to mess up, uses ingredients that people have in their pantry or are easy to find in any grocery store and it looks pretty. But we can find a deeper meaning behind this. It turns out millennials are growing up and staying in more. For years, we’ve been told we those millennials that we thought were eating out all of the time are settling down, having kids, and looking to cook for their families. They want to create restaurant-quality dishes at home that are healthy, easy, and relatively quick. That’s good news for the grocery industry. Social media has transformed the once solo activity of home cooking into a social experience, shared with friends via Instagram pictures and Facebook posts.…

Trending Now

Trending Now: February

It’s time for our second installment of Trending Now! I’ll make this quick before something else takes the place of these items currently taking the internet by storm. I spend too much time on social media and follow a ton of food accounts, so I guess that’s not such a bad thing after all! Here’s what I’ve noticed lately: Rumors: Word is spreading that grocery ecommerce isn’t taking off as fast as expected and stores aren’t making as much as they had hoped. I have lots of thoughts about this. At the VMC show last week, a member said to me, “I know online shopping isn’t going away, this is a long-term play,” and he’s right. It’s definitely not a silver bullet to save a struggling store and it takes a lot of effort on the part of the store to make it successful. It’s not a “if-you-build-it-they-will-come” scenario. You have to let the right people know about it, entice them to try it, and then you have to impress the heck out of them to keep them coming back.…

Disappointment in Online Grocery Shopping

This blog post started as a recap of recent news in the online grocery world. I got about halfway through last night and decided to finish today. Then I tried to shop for groceries online over my lunch hour. Let’s talk about that. I’m having a party to watch football at 11AM tomorrow morning, so I want to pick up my groceries on the way home from work this evening. Those egg casseroles need to sit in the fridge all night, after all. Online grocery options on my way home or near my home are currently limited to Hy-Vee, Walmart, and Instacart. I’ve used Instacart in the past, and as a customer I’m not wild about their product markups and service fees. So I thought I’d check out Hy-Vee’s service. After filling my online cart, I go to check out. I realize they have the wrong store selected, so I change it. After making the store change, I see I can’t pick up the groceries until the 6-7PM window. That’s later than I want to pick up, so I change…

Is the Juice Worth the Squeeze?

At a recent marketing event, the speaker said something offhandedly that resonated with me. He asked, “with every marketing message and every channel, is the juice worth the squeeze?” Your customers are faced with hundreds, even thousands of messages in the form of texts, calls, ads, social media posts, etc. If you’re not standing out or struggling to get engagement from your marketing efforts, what can you do differently? Test different email subject lines and calls to action, try different kinds of social media posts or consider paying to boost your posts. Make an effort to improve what you’re doing to connect with your target audience. For some independent grocers, social media channels haven’t been worth the investment. For others, social has been a huge boost to their businesses. If it’s not working, try something new, then try again. Not seeing any improvement? Maybe the juice isn’t worth the squeeze and your audience would rather get texts or emails instead. Your weekly emails with a link to your circular might be doing well, but maybe your email with a special…

Using Promo Codes to Grow Online Grocery

We’ve received mixed review about the success of promo codes in online shopping, so I wanted to learn more about what works, what doesn’t, and how we can improve marketing efforts with promo codes. I reached out to our partners at Rosie to see what their data can tell us. Alyssa Nappa, head of Shopper Marketing at Rosie wrote this blog post for us to share with you. Take it away, Alyssa! Incentivizing customers with promotional “coupon” codes is a proven strategy for growing your online grocery service. Whether your customer is placing their first order or their tenth order, promotional codes will entice them to return to your online store for their grocery needs. At Rosie, we encourage all of our retailer partners to offer promotional codes in their marketing materials, regardless if they are just launching their eCommerce service or have been live on the platform for several years. There are three popular types of promotion codes; a flat dollar amount off the total order, a percent off the total order, and a free pickup or free delivery.…

Handling Online Shopping Order Volumes

A common question I hear from retailers getting started in online shopping is, “How do I handle a varying number of orders?” I reached out to Brian Moyer, Co-Founder & CEO of Freshop, to hear what he’s seeing throughout the industry. Here’s what he had to say: Order volume: Concerned about getting orders out the door? There a couple of easy ways to control the flow. Staff as a secondary to start. Train a cashier and have order notifications going to management. Once an order comes in you would have a couple of hours to get a window where the lanes are slow to get the order picked. The biggest danger to start is not having the order ready when the customer shows up, so monitoring notices is critical. As you grow, the personal shopper will become more and more dedicated. To manage labor costs, provide tasking on where they should be working when no orders need to be picked and have a way to track those hours to charge the department using the resource. Front-end is simplest, but many…

The Best Way to Ensure a Successful Online Shopping Program

Just like in store, providing high-quality customer service can make or break your online shopping program. In a recent digitaltrends.com article, writer Erika Rawes tries out Walmart’s free grocery pickup service, but waits more than 30 minutes from the time she pulled up to the store to collect her family’s groceries to the time she leaves. Once home, she finds out she was charged for 10 missing items. If I personally had this experience, I doubt I’d try it again and I would guess that I’m not alone. The whole point to offering curbside pickup is to make grocery shopping easier and faster for the customer. Selecting a partner that provides a clean and user-friendly online experience is the first step, but after that, it’s up to your team to provide a pleasant experience for your customer. First, you have to select a personal shopper who knows what they’re doing. They need to know how to pick and handle the freshest produce and other perishable items. As a customer, I’d rather not get a carton of milk (or any perishable…

Which Online Shopping Platform is the Best for Me?

The two most common questions I get about online shopping are: Which platform is the best for me? Which platform is everyone else choosing? There’s not a good way to answer these questions until we dig a little deeper about your individual store(s) and your goals. AWG has partnered with three online shopping providers that offer our retailers options to fit their different needs. The right solution for one retailer might not be a good fit for another. Some providers build you a complete new website while others build platforms that fit into your existing website or are a part of a marketplace with other retailers. That leads to another question. You’ll have to take branding into account. Do you want your ecommerce program to be all about your brand, or are you okay with sharing some of the spotlight (along with customer data and marketing) with your provider? Each provider has a different price point, some providers offer different pricing tiers to fit your needs and budget. Some providers charge you a transactional fee while others don’t. You can pass it…

Online shopping attracts new customers and helps keep existing customers.

Three Questions to Ask Yourself When Considering an Online Shopping Program

Opening an online storefront is a big project that takes considerable time and effort to accomplish. With such a huge undertaking, you’ll want to ask yourself a lot of questions before you make a decision. I cover many of these in AWG’s Online Shopping Best Practices video. Here’s a sneak peek: Do you need or want a new website? Some providers build an entirely new website for you with an online storefront built in. Other providers build only a storefront that links from your website. Then there are providers like Instacart, where their brand name is the main attraction, and your customers have the option to use the service with other retailers. AWG has completed extensive research of the industry and selected three partner providers that align with our retailers’ needs. Each provider has their own price point with unique capabilities. You’ll have to determine which one best fits your needs. Our team is glad to help walk you through that process. Do I have all our store’s data updated and clean? When you sign on with an online shopping…

Online shopping personal shoppers

Selecting a Personal Shopper for Your Online Shopping Program

You’ve decided to make the plunge into online ordering for your grocery store. You’re working to get data flowing from your register system to your online shopping provider. Now, you have an even bigger decision to make. Who will be your personal shopper(s)? As the face of your store for the online customer, your personal shopper can make or break your customer’s experience. They have to truly understand customer service. You can teach them everything else, but customer service is a natural gift. A good place to start is looking at your internal staff. Who could be a future store director? That’s who you want to run the program. They’ll need to understand every facet of the store, especially how to pick the best produce and meat. In that regard, it helps if they shop for their own household so they have adequate experience. Your personal shopper needs to work extremely well with other associates in order to receive speedy meat and deli service. They’ll also need to be personable and have the ability to get to know their customers.…