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6 tips to deliver better grocery online shopping experience

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The boom of online grocery shopping has been a long time coming. In 2015, more than one third of shoppers in APAC regularly shopped for food online. Although the rest of the world had lesser figures of online grocery shopping, there was already a growing trend, which has only become more pronounced. According to projections by Deutsche Bank, online grocery shopping is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 28.2%, which is significant if compared with a 2.5% CAGR for total grocery sales.

Supermarkets have had time to prepare for the online, but not all of them have stayed on top of trends. When, due to necessity, consumers worldwide moved massively towards online shopping, some supermarkets found themselves suddenly out of the race. Today, the businesses who didn’t believe and invest in omni-channel are facing the harsh consequences of their decisions.

Online shopping has been gaining ground quickly among all ages and geographies, and there is no reason to believe this popularity will fade in the upcoming months. This means there is no better time than today to invest in improving your e-commerce capabilities.

Here are seven tips to get you started.

1.focus on speed and ease of use

Simplicity and usability of the platform should be your top goals:

  • Make it easy for people to register, find the products they need, add items to the cart, review and edit the order and pay. Your web-shop has to be as user-friendly as it can be.
  • Enable filtering per sub-categories of items to speed up search. Your customers would rather not have scroll through a hundred-item long list of “bread and pastries” to find the apricot-filled croissants they are looking for. Technical solution that could help in this case would be implementing breadcrumb search structure. 
  • Make sure you include all relevant products details, feature high-quality pictures, and clearly label brand names, price, ingredients with nutritional value and allergens as well as portion/package size. Try to think what is important to yourself when shopping online.
  • Include expiry dates wherever possible. If a shopper knows that the Greek yogurt lasts three more weeks, they might buy multiple packs instead of one.
  • Support returning shoppers. Give customers the possibility to recreate previous orders quickly and activate shopping lists - this might reduce churn and incentivize them to come back.
  • Allow registered customers to see their buying history and to share the basket with other family members.
  • Ensure short page load times. If your site is too slow to load, buyers may abandon their cart without completing the purchase and find a quicker website. 


2. state the important information upfront

How annoyed will your online shopper be when he finds out that his postcode is not eligible for delivery, after he spent a time adding products to the cart? For retailers, it pays off to be clear and provide all needed information from the very beginning of your customer's shopping journey. Buyers should be aware of shipping prices and times, delivery restrictions, geographical areas included in the service and special conditions before they have added a single item to their cart.

When it’s time to check out, make sure that all the steps are clearly labelled, and that shoppers know what’s coming up in the process. Consider adding lines that clarify where the customer is at, such as “You can still modify your order in the next step” or “By clicking here, you confirm your order and accept to pay. You won’t be able to modify your order afterwards”. Consider adding a progress bar, or a breadcrumb that shows the following steps in the checkout journey (“Customer details” -> “Shipping” -> “Payment information” -> “Review order” -> “Complete and pay”).

Once the order has been placed, include an “order completed” page where all the key information is summarized: items purchased, delivery and payment information, time of order, and what the customer should expect - an email, sms message, etc. 


3. Think of the different platforms and devices

Today, more consumers access websites from mobiles than from computers. As the preference for mobile shopping is only going to get more common, you should ensure that your website performs well on mobile devices. Here are some questions you should ask yourself:

  • Is my e-commerce site responsive?
  • Are the buttons big and easy to tap? Are the text fields large and easy to type into?
    Are pictures clear? Can people easily zoom in to see extra details? Is it easy to move through different images?
  • Is all information visible on small screens, or do some lines disappear or end up off screen?
  • Can customers easily move between items and categories?
  • Is the payment process simple and easy to follow?

You shouldn't save money on a good UI/UX specialist which will work with the design to make it as friendly and convenient as possible. Many consumers start a transaction on a device but finish it on another one. If, when they resume the transaction, they lose all the items they had already added to the cart, they may not be bothered to start over again – and you’ll lose that transaction. Enable saving the cart for logged in customers, so they can easily pick up transactions on different devices, at their pace and convenience.

4. Make it easy to navigate

On your e-commerce site you can easily showcase a larger product selection than in your physical locations. If you decide to go for the “endless isles” style, make sure you organize the selection so that customers can easily find what they need.

  • Offer most-popular categories that can be accessed from the top menu.
  • Enable customers to filter and sort items by price, brand, group, review scores, ingredients, dishes etc.
  • Make sure information is easy to skim through. Use bullet points and organize information consistently (firstly the ingredients, then package size, then weight, expiry date…) so users can find what they need at a glance without being overloaded with irrelevant information.
  • Make sure the “buy” button is clearly visible. Add a checkmark or confirmation notification to clarify when an item has been added to the basket.
  • Include a search function with predictive suggestions (for example elastic search) and autocorrects (“Did you mean…?”). Your customer may call “cilantro” what you call “coriander” on your site; you wouldn’t want them to leave without it just because the search gave no results.

5. Offer flexible delivery

Offer several delivery options and time slots, and be specific with your delivery times. The best practice is to offer precise delivery windows, and allow people pick the one that best fits their schedule. The more precise you are, the more likely you are customers will decide to shop with you. Such delivery might be more expensive, but you will catch up with the profits when you see customers returning.

How should you ship the products? Food retailers worldwide have been experimenting with different delivery methods. Which one(s) you should implement will depend on your customers’ demands, as well as on the location, courier availability and competitive landscape. Do your customers prefer to get their products delivered home? Would they rather use a third-party delivery station, such as a refrigerated locker? Do they want to order online and pick up in-store? Can you support picking up products at the curbside, or even via drive-thru? The more delivery options you can offer, the likelier you are to satisfy all demands. What if you don’t have the infrastructure to manage timely delivery and distribution of your goods? Then you should consider partnering up with distribution agents. This model, made popular by tech companies like Instacart, has already been successfully adopted by many supermarkets.


6. Guarantee high quality

Research shows that concerns over the quality of fresh items and worries about the risk of damage during transit are two of the main barriers to the further growth of online food shopping. To help consumers overcome these concerns,

  • Offer delivery options that preserve product quality. Refrigerated lockers, one-hour delivery, and most importantly - click and collect within a specific pick-up window - are some of the options to ensure freshness while offering customers high flexibility.
  • Provide detailed information for fresh produce. This means including not only a description, but also freshness labels that say how many days the product will last after it is delivered.
  • Gather feedback, and feature customer reviews under each product your website where applicable.
  • Allow customers to exchange the products, or get their money back, if the food does not meet their expectations at delivery.


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