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Ignite – An ecommerce Conference Recap

As brands and retail organizations continue to evolve how they think about ecommerce, the sharing of ideas on how to address this evolution is more relevant than ever. At a recent conference, Ignite – The ecommerce Leadership Conference, industry leaders from across retail joined to learn ways to think differently and continue to challenge the way business has always been done. Informative, collaborative, and thought-provoking, this day-long conference powered by Syndigo left me with a few key takeaways.  Discomfort Drives Innovation Sterling Hawkins of the Center for Advancing Retail Technology kicked off the morning with a keynote expanding on the opportunity that comes with innovation and the mindset needed to embrace it. He challenged those in attendance to embrace the discomfort that comes with the unknown rather than avoiding what could be seen as dangerous if undertaken without success. I found particularly interesting how our body responds to embracing stress and discomfort. Hawkins said when we are under stress and embrace it, our brain makes new connections, allowing us to get through the discomfort. This opportunity for exponential growth that…

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Trending Now: June

The heat of summer has finally arrived as the season of the sun is in full swing. People are finding refuge in the air conditioning and with cold treats and drinks. With the kids home for the summer, families are looking for activities for the kids, which can include fun in the kitchen. However, bringing multiple kids to the grocery store can be a daunting challenge and some families are looking for ecommerce as an easy solution. Here’s a look at what we saw trending in June: Special one-day or two-day deals on bottled water and other refreshing drinks were and still are a good way to get customers in the door. A retailer recently sent a text offer for Best Choice Bottled Water 24-packs and the redemption rates were around 20%. When a customer redeemed the water offer, their basket sizes increased by 50% at one store and 62% at the other. With the kids home for the summer, it’s also a perfect time to have some fun in the kitchen while teaching them cooking basics. On your social…

Grocery Delivery Man

Adventures of an Online Shopper

You may have ripped the bandage off and implemented an online shopping program at your store. Well, congratulations! Perhaps you are using a program such as Instacart or Shipt. Are you curious about what kind of people would be in your store, shopping on behalf of your customers? Are you wondering how to equip your store for contracted shoppers? I signed up to become a Shipt Shopper several months ago and have recently been doing a lot of shopping. Characteristics of a contracted shopper Online shoppers or contracted shoppers are contracted to shop in your store and other stores based on the shopper’s area. The general requirements for this position are: must be 18 years old, have a valid US driver’s license, auto insurance, reliable vehicle, knowledge of produce selection, insulated cooler bags, the ability to lift 40 pounds, and own a smartphone. Contracted shoppers must also pass a background check and complete a series of videos provided to them from the online shopping platform to learn how to properly grocery shop.  Though these contracted shoppers are working in your…

Missing Images in Your Online Shopping Store

As the online shopping onboarding process gets close to launch, a somewhat surprising task falls on the shoulders of the retailer: gathering missing images for items that don’t already have a picture in the ecommerce provider’s system. The ecommerce provider will have national CPG images, product descriptions and nutritional information imported from a number of international databases. The provider will also comb through your store’s data to match available images to items that don’t have an image because of how the items are labeled or abbreviated in your backend system. Once that’s complete, a store will most likely be in the 80% image match range. (Most stores launch with an 80-90% match rate. It’ll never be 100%.) The retailer is given a missing image report and it’s usually overwhelming at first glance. It will probably have thousands of items listed, but you don’t need to get pictures for all of them. Many of the items in the list are things you no longer carry or rarely ever sell. You don’t need to worry about those. What’s the likelihood you’re going…

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…

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…