Category Archives: On-line food shopping

Walmart Increasing Drone Delivery

A recent SupermarketNews article reported that Walmart plans to roll out more drone delivery options for online orders to six states, encompassing 4 million households via the service.

The piece quoted David Guggina, senior vice president of innovation and automation for Walmart U.S., who said, “Walmart aims to expand DroneUp delivery to 34 sites in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Utah and Virginia by the end of 2022.”

According to the article, once implemented the move will give Walmart the ability to deliver more 1 million packages by drone annually.

In preparation, Walmart had made trial deliveries of COVID-19 home test kits, which demonstrated that drones could provide delivery in minutes rather than hours; and while it was initially expected that consumers would use the service for receiving emergency goods, they’ve found people are using it for the convenience, like a “quick fix for a weeknight meal.”

Another example of leveraging technology to initiate change that enhances online shopping, the customer service and the customer experience.

The Evolution of Online Grocery Shopping

A recent SupermarketNews article shared insights into how the dynamics of the online grocery market have changed.

Not only are more shoppers using online grocery options than before COVID, but they are also split in which “type” of online platform they prefer.

This nuance bodes well for how conventional grocers can strengthen their online grocery services to improve performance, because it turns out they aren’t really competing with the mass merchandisers who are far more developed in executing their respective online strategies and who operate on a much larger scale.

“We know from Brick Meets Click’s monthly e-shopper research that today’s shoppers choose to place online grocery orders with mass merchandisers for very different reasons than when they choose to place online orders with conventional grocers,” the article said. “In this context, mass rivals are not conventional grocers’ most meaningful competitor.”

A few additional data points from their research that conventional retailers should consider include:

  • In 2019, stores that had operated an online grocery service for a longer period of time reported higher weekly sales. This correlation no longer exists. COVID has changed the circumstances that drive adoption and usage.
  • The impact of a store’s service area population has also shifted. In 2019, stores in the largest markets generated the highest level of weekly sales; today, stores in mid-sized markets reported the strongest sales. In high-population areas, there is simply more competition for online grocery spending than there used to be. This makes it harder to grow without expanding in other ways.
  • Offering customers a choice between pickup and delivery instead of just one option continues to have a significant impact on sales.

Amazon Reduces Waste with New ‘Curbside Recyclable’ Delivery Packaging

SupermarketNews recently reported that Amazon has unveiled a new sustainable food packaging solution for the point of delivery.

The article referenced a statement from Stephenie Landry, vice president of Amazon Grocery, indicating perishables deliveries from Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market now will come in “curbside recyclable” insulated paper packaging.

“Rolling out just in time for Thanksgiving, Amazon’s new packaging is made from recycled paper and is curbside recyclable. Whether customers are ordering turkey, green beans, or frosty pints of ice cream, chilled and frozen foods from Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market will arrive insulated in packaging that is easy and convenient for customers to recycle at home.”

As part of Amazon’s overall sustainability effort, they say the new packaging will replace of the plastic liners and bubble bags that are often used to insulate chilled and frozen items. It will also cut back on material waste they claim, replacing about 735,000 pounds of plastic film, 3.15 million pounds of natural cotton fiber and 15 million pounds of non-recyclable mixed plastic annually.

Key considerations in developing the new packaging included sending less material to landfills and more back into the circular economy loop while ensuring that the insulated material properly chilled the food inside and was compact, flexible, easily recyclable, inexpensive and scalable, according to a company spokesperson.

Online Shopping Preferences

A recent SupermarketNews article shared the results of the latest NielsenIQ omnibus poll, which indicated U.S. online shoppers value speed of delivery.

“Same-day delivery, same-day pickup and next-day/later pickup all gained traction among online consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic, whereas two-day and next-day delivery lost interest,” the article said.

Their findings were based on NielsenIQ’s Omnichannel Shopping Fundamentals Survey, conducted in February and March 2021. Other findings of note include:

  • 61% of online grocery shoppers said they prefer same day deliver. This compares to only 27% of shoppers saying they considered same day delivery in September of 2020, versus only 20% in 2019
  • 39% of online shopper panelists claimed a preference for having their product deliveries consolidated in one shipment to reduce packaging and frequency of trips, even if it extended the delivery time
  • 63.2% of homes with children favored quick delivery versus 59.8% of households without kids

Tech-Driven Improvements an Emerging Trend in Supermarkets

The mounting demand for e-commerce due to COVID-19, and the expectation that it will be necessary to continue offering many of the “new normal” services post-COVID, has resulted in a number of grocery chains making major changes to their infrastructure and improvements in their processes.

As reported by SupermarketNews, some of the process and facility enhancements include:

  • Conversion of store or shelf-space to accommodate online order fulfillment
  • Creation of automated micro-fulfillment centers (MFC’s) to support automated fulfillment for grocery delivery, sometimes referred to as “dark stores” since they have no retail space
  • Curbside pickup
  • Installation of automated pickup points, enabling customers and delivery personnel to drive up, scan a code and retrieve their orders

The expectation is that those retailers who are able to convert store space or operate MFC’s will be better able to scale their business as the demand for e-commerce continues to grow.

“For grocers to adapt and stay relevant — and for consumers to eat the cost of the last mile — grocery retailers need to embrace curbside pickup,” said Rob Wilson and Shang Saavedra in a recent report from L.E.K. Consulting.

“Given that stores are designed for optimal in-store shopping, it’s often inefficient for staff to wander through aisles to assemble orders and, when it comes to operating margins, far from sustainable. Moreover, stores have been forced to quickly create online pickup areas, leading to messy front-of-store experiences for consumers.”

Clearly the costs associated with some of the major changes such as building stand-alone MFC’s favor the larger retailers. One possible solution for smaller chains might be the use of “solution partners” to get the job done.

Either way, and as noted in a recent SupermarketNews article, all indicators say that online grocery shopping and curbside pickup are here to stay.

2020 Saw Big Growth in Omnichannel Shopping!

A recent SupermarketNews article reported that omnichannel consumption grew by 50% this past year, and nearly half of all consumer goods purchases were made via e-commerce.

The report was based on new research from Nielsen.

Not surprisingly, both food and nonfood products have seen marked shifts in omnichannel shopping since the COVID-19 outbreak, and the number of shoppers who deem themselves as “heavy” or “exclusive” online shoppers for everyday items jumped 133% from September 2019 to September 2020.

The article went on to quote Nikhil Sharma, vice president of North America consumer analytics at Nielsen, who said, “Within the U.S., new behaviors have emerged that retailers and manufacturers must acknowledge, accommodate and swiftly act on — especially as online shopping habits begin to solidify. While we do expect a return of some kind to pre-pandemic habits, consumers will not be returning to a pre-pandemic retail environment.”

Order History Tool Most Popular as Consumer Preferences Shift
The article also pointed out that, when making online transactions, 29% of consumers polled by Nielsen found the order history tool to be the most helpful feature when shopping for nonfood items.

In a final statemen Mr. Sharma added, “Undeniably, consumers have more choices than ever in their path to purchase, meaning as consumer needs and preferences continue to evolve, it is crucial to have an omnichannel strategy in place to sustain and grow momentum in 2021.”

Pandemic Fuels Online Food Shopping

Canadian food and drug retailer Metro Inc. has experienced a coronavirus-fueled spike in demand for online food shopping, which experienced tripled-digit growth this quarter.

The SupermarketNews article quoted Metro President and CEO Eric La Flèche, who said, “Our food business experienced high levels of sales, as the large portion of restaurant and foodservice sales transferred to the grocery channel.”

Certainly the “new normal” has had an impact on businesses of all types, forcing organizational leaders to find new ways of providing value and an enhanced customer experience, as noted in our previous post.

Read full article…

Ideas for Improving Online Grocery Shopping

Markus Stripf is the CEO and co-founder of Spoon Guru, a digital health innovation partner to leading grocery retailers around the world.

Citing statistics that indicated online grocery sales in the U.S. grew to $5.3 billion in April, compared to $4 billion in the previous month, and that online grocery will grow by 100% this year, Stripf has some specific thoughts on how retailers can improve online grocery shopping.

His list of “fresh ideas,” which were featured in a recent SupermarketNews article, included:

  • Offering customers designated delivery times to improve convenience
  • Providing more curated experiences based on consumers’ dietary preferences
  • Utilizing the power of personalized nutrition technology to enable healthy food exploration
  • Transparency to better enable purchasing decisions on specific dietary needs
  • Review and reinvest to ensure the simplicity and usability of user interface platforms

Read the full article…

Despite Mid-west Closing of Peapod, Ahold Expects Robust e-Commerce Growth

Ahold Delhaize, whose supermarket brands include Stop & Shop, Giant Food, Giant/Martin’s, Food Lion and Hannaford, recently announced that they will be closing the Midwest division of its Peapod online grocery arm.

However, the company also noted that the Peapod Midwest closing isn’t expected to have a significant impact on the previously announced goal to drive 30% U.S. e-commerce growth in 2020.

According to a SupermarketNews article, Ahold plans to focus on markets in which they already enjoy a strong presence. Going forward, Peapod Digital Labs will support online grocery delivery and pickup service for all Ahold Delhaize USA’s supermarket brands. The article also noted that Ahold “aims to establish those brands as the leading omni-channel grocery retailers in their market areas.”

“To continue our strong track record of sales growth and market share gains, we are accelerating our growth and expanding the leadership positions of our businesses in our East Coast markets,” Ahold Delhaize USA CEO Kevin Holt said. “This move will enable us to fully focus on markets where we have strong store density, leading market share and a longstanding heritage of customer loyalty.”

Tech Driving Customer Experience at SpartanNash

SpartanNash is leveraging GPS location technology to improve curbside service in its Fast Lane online grocery pickup program. According to a recent SupermarketNews article, a number of the chain’s locations are now using Radius Networks’ location-based FlyBuy Pickup service with ShopperKit’s in-store grocery fulfillment software to bring out Fast Lane orders to customers as soon as they arrive at the store.

Referenced as a “click-and-collect platform,” the process begins when a customer places a Fast Lane curbside order. The order is fulfilled and the customer is notified when their groceries are ready for pickup. The customer can then share their location via mobile apps or a web browser to let their Fast Lane personal shopper know they’re heading to the store. That allows customers’ orders to be prepared and delivered to their vehicles the moment they pull into the pickup area.

“This new technology will completely change our customers’ experience with Fast Lane,” said Brian Holt, vice president of marketing for SpartanNash.

“Fast Lane already provides exceptional customer service, with overall satisfaction scores 30 points higher than the national average, as well as some of the nation’s leading fulfillment rates. And our new GPS location technology will only improve the ease and speed of the Fast Lane experience.”

This is another good example of how today’s supermarkets are leveraging technology and continuous process improvement to drive customer service and the shopping experience.