How should grocers respond to Amazon?
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Will delivering omnichannel shopping experiences be enough for traditional grocers to offset the threat of Amazon across food categories?
Speaking at the Food Marketing Institute’s FMI Connect conference in Chicago, Anastasia Voronkova, business analyst at retail technology firm Grid Dynamics, believes so but adds that the trick is for grocers to leverage both their brick-and-mortar advantages and the best practices of online retailers. For example, meal planning is a great service to offer in-store, Ms. Voronkova said, and grocers can set themselves apart with their online sites by offering more help planning meals, creating shopping lists and offering comprehensive product information.
Among the ways to continue making in-store shopping appealing:
- Looking for new ways to offer great in-store-only services;
- Enhancing the experience via features on the grocer’s mobile app;
- Sending customized, up-to-the-minute offers and notifications;
- Encouraging shoppers to order their staples on the store’s online site and then shopping for more experiential items such as produce and seafood in-store.
As for online offerings, traditional grocers need not feel like they must offer a full-scale e-commerce site. Instead, Ms. Voronkova said, a limited effort helps the retailer stay competitive as it builds out. She suggests starting with basic online features such as browse and search, a limited product catalogue, the ability to place an order and pick up in store. That much alone would put a grocer ahead of many of its peers, she said.
Other ways to set the online grocery experience apart include:
- Providing substantial product information and meal-planning help, and creating discounts on cooking recipe bundles for specific dishes;
- Sending shoppers personalized marketing, offers and promotions;
- Considering a limited home delivery option to certain areas, customers or other specifications.
Finally, said Ms. Voronkova, grocers should remember that many shoppers say they feel better informed when shopping online, and they rely heavily on social media to make their decisions. Shrewd food retailers that satisfy shoppers’ desire to be informed and stay socially connected will find that they continue to get the chance to fill shoppers baskets — online and in their stores.
What advantages do traditional grocers have against Amazon and vice versa? How should traditional grocers respond to Amazon and other online grocers?