COVID 19: How and why it will have a strong impact on online grocery sales

Black swan events like COVID-19 force businesses to rethink strategies. It is imperative to establish the right go-forward plan to deal with unusual business environments and buying patterns. The online grocery industry is going to witness seismic changes in the coming months.

As measures like quarantines and social distancing come into effect, it is important for online grocery businesses to adapt to a new normal.

Will coronavirus prove to be a watershed moment for the online grocery industry?

  • According to data from Rakuten Intelligence, online order volume increased sharply from March 12th
  • Retailers are seeing a 215% increase in online grocery sales

It is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic will have lasting impacts in the retail industry. There is going to be rapid movements towards digitization and omni-channel shopping.

Even a well-oiled eCommerce machine can struggle under such challenges. Early reports suggest that similar to the SARS outbreak, COVID-19 too will fuel the growth of eCommerce.

Like Leonard Cohen’s iconic lines “There are cracks in everything and that is how the light gets in” let’s see how this unusual crisis can propel your business growth and most importantly be there for your customers when they need you the most.

Groceries: Into the world of digital solutions.

  • Digitally native shoppers are entering the online grocery space
  • Crisis motivated first time shoppers are adopting online grocery shopping
  • The increase in demand puts pressure on grocers to develop a more agile approach to demand planning cycles
  • Providing a frictionless eCommerce experience is key

What can grocers do to combat COVID 19?

Design a digital experience with the consumer in mind

Customers are in a state of flux. It is essential to simplify the shopping experience for first-time online shoppers. Retailers can implement successful digital solutions by focusing on the nuanced elements of the shopping experience like simplifying searches, helping customers to navigate, and offering responsive support at all times.

Video tutorials on how to add items to cart, payment options, offers available etc can be created to handhold first time shoppers navigate through the site without feeling confused and overwhelmed.

Retailers can also proactively anticipate consumer demands and recommend options for frequently bought items.

Reduce complexity
Meaning grocery experiences follow the LEAD approach. Light, Ethical, Accessible and Dataful. When combined these four crucial elements help grocers to think about the customer experience from various angles.

Offer alternates: With supply chain disruptions and unprecedented demand for household staples, retailers may run out-of-stock sooner than expected. Provide alternatives for products.

Easy-to-navigate eCommerce experiences: Provide large and prominent search buttons.

Reduce clicks and scrolls: Provide a single page checkout and minimize page scrolls for a better buying experience.

Transparency: Offer more transparency into the supply chain and provide education around pickers.

Create an end-to-end experience

Grocery is a low margin business. Emerging eCommerce trends and supply chain changes play a huge role in shaping the overall customer experience. To retain existing customers and acquire new ones retailers will have to step up the game.

Providing an end-to-end shopping experience is crucial to thrive in the current climate.

Omni channel optimization

Unlike pure-play online stores and tech giants like Amazon that have invested heavily in digital infrastructure, most grocers are taking their first tentative steps towards online shopping. They must compete by adapting long standing processes. And this can be a unique advantage.

Legacy grocers have insights into shopper preferences, order-fill rates and last-mile fulfilment. This gives a holistic view of the customer journey.

Grocers can leverage this data to create services that meet customer demand and try to cut back on costs across the entire distribution chain.

The future of online grocery

The global grocery market is growing at an accelerated rate. It is expected to grow exponentially by 2023. It’s projected to reap $1.9 trillion in new sales by the next couple of years.

With shifting expectations and evolving market forces keeping customers at the core is paramount for success.