Online Grocery Retailers, Adapting to Changing Consumer Behaviors

From increased competition to keeping shoppers engaged, the rapid growth and rising interest in online grocery shopping have created a new set of challenges that many (new and emerging) online grocery retailers have needed to address. With more shoppers than ever opting to do some, if not all, of their grocery shopping online, this growing market has quickly had to adapt and react to shifting consumer shopping habits. Unlike shopping in-store, online customers have the option of abandoning their carts if they aren’t ready to complete their transaction or choosing to shop at a different eCommerce site if the products they want aren’t available, or opting to shop with the online grocery retailer that has the most user-friendly site. But how do these challenges affect consumer shopping behavior, and what can online grocery retailers do to keep customers engaged?

The Challenges

For many, the ease and convenience of online grocery shopping is a huge selling point for them. Not only can you shop from the comfort of your own house, but you can also shop ahead of time, see your total in real-time, and view all the products that are currently available. But what happens when the product they want isn’t available? Or the app or website they are using isn’t the most user-friendly? With a quick click, they can leave your site and open up a competitor. While in-store shopping has its own set of challenges, online shopping can be much more volatile.

In a recent report from Lucidworks, of those who participated, 47% of respondents stated that they will turn to a different online retailer if they cannot find what they are looking for. Although one of many challenges, product availability is a huge factor when shopping online. Whereas when shopping in-store, customers may be more inclined to opt for a different brand or products, when shopping online it may just be easiest to turn to a different retailer. When interviewed for FoodDive, the General Manager of Digital Commerce at Lucidworks, Peter Curran stated, “As shortages and supply chain issues continue to affect grocers and as people have clearly demonstrated an affinity for their local grocer and wanting to shop there, it means that grocers really need to understand consumer intent [in order to run their online operations most effectively]”.

Finding Your Niche

Recently on Beyond the Shelf, we spoke with the CEO of Good Eggs, Bentley Hall. They are a California-based online grocery delivery system that brings local, and fresh food & beverage products straight to your door. Unlike other online grocers, Good Eggs specializes in high-quality products that are sustainably and ethically sourced. In our conversation, Bentley gave us some insights into their robust vetting process for finding new producers and growers. Partnering with brands that align with their values is not only important to them but also to their customers. Their transparent sourcing adds value to their service. They have found a niche that was previously underserved, and have now been able to grow their business by moving into new markets.

By integrating their sustainable values into their business model they have been able to create a loyal fanbase. Although they serve a niche but large market, there’s a lot that other online grocery retailers can learn from them. Including how building value is not only about what products you carry but how your transparent your operations and business model is.

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