Online Grocery Shopping: An Emerging Opportunity for the Retail RD

Online Grocery Shopping: An Emerging Opportunity for the Retail RD

February 17, 2016

Packaged Facts data suggests online grocery will account for $100 billion in sales by 2019, a quadrupling of sales from 2014. Before this can happen, however, there are key challenges that must be overcome including efficient online order fulfillment, grocery delivery strategy and convincing the consumer they won’t lose on freshness and quality in an online grocery environment.  

While across the country, a variety of start-ups have gotten into the retail grocery game, chains with brick-and-morter stores now see online offerings as a way to maintain and grow their customer base while at the same time leveraging their advantages including an established supply chain and localized store locations.

How does the online grocery trend impact retail dietitians? Where is the opportunity to leverage RD programs and services in the online shopping experience? The following suggestions highlight just a few ways retail RDs can add value to this service:

  • Moving shelf tags into the online shopping environment. Today, thousands of retail stores across the country offer attribute-driven shelf messaging (think low saturated fat, high fiber, gluten free). This information is just as important to shoppers in the online environment, and retail RDs can partner with key internal departments to ensure this information is available online. According to Ronak Sheth, Chief Customer Officer for Label Insight, there are now more than 15,000 nutrition, ingredient, claim and certification based attributes that can be tracked on consumer goods products. “The ability to search by these attributes is essential as it allows the retailer to personalize the online shopping experience,” comments Sheth.
  • Suggestive selling. In the aisle of a store, the retail RD has the opportunity to highlight better-for-you products and to suggest shoppers try new products. In the online environment this service can be easily scaled. Work with the online grocery team to identify healthier solutions for common products and nutrition criteria that can be used to indicate a product is healthier than one the shopper may put in their online cart. This creates an opportunity to reach a large shopper base, directly impact behavior change, and provides an easily measured metric for ROI measurement.
  • Client Chats. Consumers love the service feature of being able to have an online chat with a customer service person. An innovative approach is to apply RD insight to this model. Expand your RD team to include those who are at the ready to provide shopping advice, food safety tips, healthier recipe substitutions, and nutrition guidance to online shoppers.
  • Pitch a position. Many of the exclusively online retailers don’t currently have dietitians on staff, creating an opportunity for entrepreneurs to pitch a position to them. In preparing your pitch, research their specific site and shopper engagement model, and pitch specific ideas on how you can add value.

While the online shopping model hasn’t yet proven itself in the grocery space, all indicates suggest the kinks will get worked out and this segment of the industry will see tremendous growth. Retail RDs need to strategize and engage leaders now to ensure nutrition services touch all methods of shopper engagement, including the online experience.