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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…

Making Marketing Data Work

Big data. Little data. Shopper data. Transaction data. Data. Data. Data. By now someone has said you need data. The trick is knowing what kind of data you need and what you should do with the data once you have it. Knowing many independent retailers have these questions in mind, I attended the Kansas City Direct Marketing Association presentation recently from Blake Hodges of Alight Analytics. Hodges had some important reminders for those of us trying to figure out how to solve the two part data problem: aggregation and reporting. Fundamentally, before aggregating and reporting on data, you have to have it. Data comes from all different places. You likely keep track of some of this data but maybe not all and potentially not in a way that helps you make future decisions. According to Hodges most of us spend around 80% of our time prepping data but only around 20% analyzing it. This insight really calls into question the whole reason we have data. To address this imbalance, Hodges broke down four levels of performance insight from data and…

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 mile marker painted white on the blacktop of the footpath on a close up view.

Chasing the Last Mile

Of all the hot topics in retail these days, last-mile fulfillment is one of the hottest. Independent grocery retailers are becoming more comfortable with the notion of click and collect eCommerce, but last mile seems to be another beast altogether. There are concerns, for sure. But, as more and more competitors venture into delivery, retailers are asking how they can get in the game. At the Home Delivery World conference in Atlanta in April, Bringg laid out seven steps in the delivery process and how retailers can prepare to tackle it head on. 7 steps in delivery: Streamline processes – ensure the data used to power delivery is correct. Have the right product and pricing information and understand what’s even going to be available via delivery. Improve Efficiency – Learn how to track inventory and have driver visibility for both the driver and the customer. Use real time data and consider proof of delivery. Provide Visibility – Build trust with on-time delivery and use data to understand each component of the process and how to continuously improve it. Communicate effectively…

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…

Optimizing Omni-Channel Grocery Shopping

Marketing Communications Strategies for Independent Grocery Retailers If you’ve read my past blog posts or follow me on social media, you know I’ve been busy with graduate school for the past three years in addition to working at AWG. Good news: after a full year of researching, writing and finally defending, I have competed my thesis and graduated with my master’s degree from Mizzou! So what does this mean for you? I’ve condensed my 80-page thesis down to a quick summary of what I learned. The What The lovely title of this blog post is also the title of my thesis. In layman’s terms: I studied how independent grocery retailers (like AWG members) can successfully market and communicate their online grocery shopping offerings to their customers to secure sales online and in-stores. I did this through marketing email communications. The Why Besides the fact that I work at AWG each day and have a vested interest in helping our retailers, omni-channel grocery shopping (online and in-store shopping options) is constantly evolving and grabbing headlines in the news. For example: “By…

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…

Fill viewfinder example photo of produce.

Do you need online shopping customers’ approval on produce?

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,…

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…

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