How to Influence Shoppers As Retail Moves Online

How to Influence Shoppers As Retail Moves Online

December 17, 2014

How valuable will online grocery share actually become to food retailers, and how can retail dietitians effectively educate and nudge shoppers in a healthier direction when in-store customer communication tactics are not an option?

In order to keep up with demand, stores must offer home delivery and/or click-and-collect options, which are becoming increasingly popular among key consumer segments in larger cities. Indeed, online grocery sales of about $6 billion in 2013 could advance 9.5 percent annually to $9.4 billion in 2017; indicate IBISWorld data cited by Citigroup. More than tripling the 3 percent yearly sales growth of the 2008-2013 period. As online delivery and ordering becomes increasingly popular, retail dietitians need to find ways to make their mark in the increasingly online world.

Questions posed by Facts, Figures, & the Future, ponder the longer-term issues online grocery could ultimately mean to the retail enterprise. How profitable could it be? How much loyalty could it yield? How might it affect store image, store size, assortments, marketing, and operations? Would these answers hinge on quality of the service alone, affordability, or perhaps other factors not yet apparent in the marketplace? The structure of this business is yet to be fully formed – and evolving consumer preferences and behaviors will largely determine its shape.

Therein lies the opportunity for food retailers and dietitians to use insights from consumer online shopping experiences thus far – to establish a baseline and begin to project what shoppers may demand of them in the future. The desire to eat healthfully is one that will continue, so creating guardrails and online criteria that health seeking web shoppers can depend on, falls precisely within the expertise of the retail dietitian.

UPS research, Pulse of the Online Shopper: A Customer Experience Study (conducted by comScore with the e-tailing group) duly notifies retailers of the challenges they face in satisfying today’s “flex shopper…[who] is ruthlessly efficient, switching channels and devices to best suit personal convenience when evaluating and purchasing products. Information and control are paramount, and retailers must offer near-perfect shopping experiences across every channel and device to thrive.” Clearly retailers have a lot to ponder, and dietitians can offer added value to keep shoppers attention, while educating and informing better-for-you choices.

Retail dietitians can contribute companion information including short videos, recipes, and healthy item suggestions; shoppers would be drawn to the online store not only to purchase products but to gain information as well, which could very well increase basket size and unplanned purchases.

The UPS report also shares various areas where online merchants have room to improve. Among highlights:

Convenience reigns. Most online shoppers (55%) prefer to buy online, regardless of where they prefer to research. Having dietitian-led content adjacent to the online marketplace could add to this convenience – one click for health or cooking information and to purchase.

81% feel free shipping is important. To qualify for it, 93% take some action, such as adding more items to the cart (58%) or choosing a slower transit time (50%). Fifty percent ship-to-store at some point.  Retail RDs could step in here, offering healthy suggestions to qualify for free shipping.

68% of shoppers are pleased by the amount of product detail to help determine what would best meet their needs. There is still opportunity here for improving product detail, especially as consumers becoming increasingly interested in the origins, allergens, ingredients, etc. in their food.

59% are satisfied with the ability to contact customer service while they search or browse. Having a retail dietitian reachable during business hours, or ask the dietitian online chat may increase satisfaction in this category.

More than half of Millennials and one-third of all consumers say social media influence their purchases. As this population grows and continues to make more decisions around food purchases, being active on social media is a must.