E-Commerce Challenges for Supermarkets

A recent Wall Street Journal article reported that E-commerce is transforming the grocery business, “bringing-about the need to overhaul operations and invest heavily in technology and talent to keep customers from straying to Amazon.com Inc. ”

“Not since Walmart Inc. first pushed into groceries in the late 1980s have traditional chains faced so many challenges,” the article states.

As an example, Kroger, a long-term, consistently successful chain, stayed focused on store sales long after competitors were investing in online-ordering technology and delivery services. But, according to the article, company leadership has recognized they are behind and have crafted a plan for more rapid transition to keep up with consumer preferences.

The article goes on to note that few American retailers have managed the online transition smoothly, citing early struggles experienced by Target and Walmart before improving their e-commerce operations, and the demise of Sears Holdings Corporation and Toys “R” Us in 2018.

This perspective is consistent with that of our previous post, noting that, while still in growth mode, the on-line grocery shopping experience requires improvement. It will be interesting to see how Kroger and other traditional chains address the emerging demand for online shopping while still satisfying the more traditional demand for low prices as well as a “unique” in-store shopping experience.