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  • Take Your Grocery Business to the Next Level with Technology

    Clerk scanning product with checkout scanner

It goes without saying that a strong online presence for your grocery business is absolutely critical in 2021 and beyond. Online grocery sales were already increasing before COVID-19 and took off during it. Social distancing aside, consumers found that ordering their groceries online and either picking them up or having them delivered was not only safer but convenient. For these reasons, online grocery ordering activity is expected to remain elevated even after the pandemic ends. Likewise, consumers were already logging on to stores’ websites and Facebook pages to get information about sales and view ads before the pandemic; over the past year the number of shoppers using digital tools has grown exponentially.

Data from Nielsen and other sources show online grocery shopping is valued by a wide range of shoppers, many of whom did not use grocery pickup or delivery before the pandemic began. Consumers found they liked the ease of online ordering and the convenience of having their purchases carried out to their cars or delivered to their homes. While both grocery pickup and home delivery are up significantly year-over-year, it’s pickup (+113% over last year) that’s the clear winner over home delivery (+66%). It’s expected to be the favorite going forward as well. An easy-to-use grocery ordering system — one that offers a great customer experience every step of the way — is a must for grocers today. There are many ways to fall short with shoppers who order their groceries online. It’s not enough to just have an online grocery ordering system; you must offer a great customer experience too.

Lady checking coupons on iPhone

Other growth areas are: Digital coupons, mobile apps, promotions and loyalty offerings. In fact, consumer demand for all types of technology tools and solutions is growing rapidly. Studies show that consumers want more payment options in store, especially ‘contactless’ ones, where they simply tap their smartphone, smartwatch, or card to the payment machine. While there’s still a segment of your customer base that will want printed ads, use printed coupons and jot their shopping lists down on paper, a greater share of customers will be using digital tools to plan their shopping trips and to find offers in-store in 2021 and beyond. We’ve even seen growing interest for mobile apps, like FutureProof Retail, where the shopper can easily scan items with their phone, put the item in their cart or bag, and finish shopping by paying through their phone. Simply put, your business won’t remain competitive without easy-to-use and effective digital tools.

Smart technology investments have never been more important for store operations as well. Today’s technology can help you stay on top of trends, better serve your customers, identify operational problems/challenges early, capitalize on rapid and unexpected shifts in consumer shopping patterns and more. For example, PivotalView – a web-based real-time data analytics tool – is specifically designed to help independent grocers drive profitable sales growth, reduce shrink, and save time. This program tracks store, department, and item performance to provide you with insights and recommendations; and, it does this right in the palm of your hand via your tablet or smartphone. Collecting and utilizing scan data will enable you to better understand how your stores are performing versus the market, what products are doing well in similar stores that you’re not carrying, and whether or not you should develop or expand your assortment.

On top of informative analytics, retailers must be strategic about their pricing, especially coming out of the pandemic and the emergence of two specific segments of consumers, ‘value’ oriented and ‘nonvalue’ oriented. These two segments mean that setting the right price will be critical to your store’s success but setting that price can be tricky. Our STEP (Strategic Tool to Enhance Pricing) pricing program is a powerful, store specific, strategic tool that uses store data and competitive price checks. It will allow you to easily model base zones and custom pricing strategies to evaluate their impacts on your business.