Grocery Ecommerce: Tips for Retail RDs to Get Involved

Grocery Ecommerce: Tips for Retail RDs to Get Involved

August 31, 2016

by RDBA Contributing Editor Amanda Rubizhevsky, MPH, NC

With the growing number of online shopping options, the pressure remains for supermarkets to boost their web presence and for retail dietitians to find their place in this increasingly popular and profitable marketplace.

Rabobank analysts report that almost $2bn of investment capital has been pumped into food delivery start-ups since 2012 from online grocery delivery companies such as InstaCart and restaurant delivery apps such as DoorDash to meal-kit services such as Blue Apron. Supermarkets don’t have the resources that these start ups have, but they do have to find ways to entice shoppers and keep them loyal, that’s where the retail RD steps in.

Lets focus on online grocery shopping, which continues to grow. So what are consumers shopping for online: less perishables, more shelf stable? A recent Harris Poll, of almost 2,000 US adults, found that consumers are just as likely to buy fresh fruits and vegetables as they are dry packaged goods – revealing ecommerce may hold more promise for perishables than originally believed.

The Harris Poll also zeroed in on some of the more desirable qualities shoppers look for when food shopping online, revealing two opportunities for retail dietitians to step in with their nutrition expertise and healthier suggestions:

  • Products with a long-shelf life.  Online grocery shopping could be used as a way to stock up on staples. Dietitians could create a one click pantry stock-up with options based on several dietary preferences (i.e. heart healthy, paleo, gluten free, low sugar, etc.) that would add 10-15 dietitian approved pantry staples to their cart. The bundle could also include recipes, storage tips and other pertinent information for shoppers.
  • Frequently used products like yogurt, oatmeal mixes, pasta sauces, and beverages. Dietitians can offer nutritional upgrades to these items highlighting products with lower sodium, less sugar, or fewer ingredients. Stores can also capitalize on this by offering automatic subscription renewals of these products.

Who is doing the most online shopping?
Millennials (36% versus 31% of average Americans), those with a college education (35% versus 26% with a high school education or less), and those in urban areas  (38% versus 30% in the suburbs and 25% in rural communities).

It’s also no surprise that time crunched parents are more likely to shop online than those without children (37% compared to 28%).

The groups mentioned above are hungry for knowledge regarding their food; here are some ideas for providing the information to keep this audience engaged and shopping at your store, whether in person or online.

  • RD-generated, printed material inserted with each order to promote nutritional messaging and bring people in-store for tours and RD led culinary events.
  • For those with an ecommerce site, post un-sponsored nutritional information on the main homepage. The information should be relevant and interesting based on purchase history, and not just ads promoting RD services.

The opportunities for creativity in promoting RD picks and services are endless online, and the value add is huge - reaching a potentially new customer base who hasn’t had the chance to experience RD services in-person.