As the numerous eCommerce services expand, so does online grocery shopping. To give an example, the United States online grocery market is expected to hit 160.91 billion USD in 2023, which is around 20 billion USD more than in 2022. What’s more, this tendency is expected to grow in the following years. That being said, the aim of this article is to explain the topic of online grocery shopping, list the benefits it can bring, and briefly describe the process of setting up the online grocery store while keeping in mind the eCommerce trends.
As always, let’s begin with the definition of our today’s topic.
What is an online grocery shop?
The online grocery shop gives customers the possibility to browse and order grocery and household items from the online store with delivery to their homes. It does not differ much from a traditional grocery store, offering a wide range of products, including fresh vegetables and fruits, dairy, meat, pantry staples, and more. The spike in popularity of online grocery shopping was caused by the global pandemic, as it became a convenient way to save time and avoid contact with other people. As can be seen, this trend stayed till today.
To better understand the idea of running an online grocery store, here are the benefits that encourage people to start running a grocery-related eCommerce website, as well as the ones that make customers keen to buy groceries online.
Benefits of online grocery shopping for owners
Wider customer base
First of all, it is easier to attract new customers online than in local brick-and-mortar stores. Customers don’t have to look for your store physically, and it can cover a much wider geographic area.
Lower overhead costs
As the store is running online, it is cost-effective in comparison to traditional stores, where there is a cost of rent, utilities, and more staff to manage the place.
Better access to data
Online stores can collect valuable data about their customers and analyze them to better understand buying patterns, preferences, etc. This, in turn, can be used to improve the shopping experience by allowing for more targeted marketing and product recommendations.
Better marketing opportunities
Online stores can leverage social media and other digital marketing channels to reach and engage with customers. Potential customers can reach an online grocery store easily by clicking on an advertisement or getting redirected via email message.
Benefits of online grocery shopping for customers
Customers can shop from anywhere, at any time, without having to visit a physical store. As previously mentioned, this approach can save a lot of time in people’s busy lives.
Better product selection
Online grocery stores can offer a wider range of products, including items that are not available in local supermarkets. Due to that, many people can find products that suit their preferences. It is especially beneficial for people that follow a particular diet.
Shopping online makes it easier to compare prices with other stores. Customers can find the best offers and save money as a result.
Another advantage for the customers is the possibility to check what items are available and how much of them are currently in stock. This allows them to plan expenses better and avoid the situation when they visit a local store and there is no product they need.
More payment methods
In comparison to stationery stores, online stores generally provide more payment options. This is because online retailers can offer a variety of payment methods that are not available in physical stores, such as online payment services, mobile wallets, and even digital currencies like Bitcoin. Online retailers often accept credit and debit cards, as well as popular online payment services such as PayPal, Google Pay, and Apple Pay.
How to set up an online grocery shop
Here is a brief explanation of each step you need to take to start with your first online grocery store. Each step is important and should not be overlooked.
First of all, it’s essential to conduct thorough market research. It will allow to identify the target audience and understand their needs and preferences. Secondly, market research can help you determine which products to sell. Try to find the niche in your area and fill it with your products. Furthermore, analyze the competition and develop an optimal pricing strategy. Setting the prices too low or too high can be unfavorable to any business.
Without proper research, you may risk launching an online store with little to no demand, high competition, or disproportionate prices, which can ultimately result in failure. Therefore, invest time and resources in market research to ensure the best chances for success for your online store.
Establishing a website
The next step is creating a website. To do so, choose an eCommerce platform that is suitable to your needs and business goals. Think about the functionalities you need and the redundant ones in order to choose the best solution that fits the budget and size of a company. Next, design your website. A visually appealing can enhance the user experience and, as a result, increase sales. What’s more, consistent and professional design gives a sense of credibility and reliability, which are crucial in building customer trust.
When creating a website, think about the sales strategy for an online grocery store. In this case, selling products based on a subscription model is better than selling them irregularly. Food and beverage have a limited shelf time, for instance, fish or juice. This means that frequent replenishment is needed to keep products fresh. To avoid throwing out expired products, consider selling them on a regular basis via a subscription model to customers that need them regularly. To give an example, selling vegetables for restaurants or beverages to local bars.
Nonetheless, some products have a long expiry date (e.g., canned food, coffee, cooking oil, strong alcohol pasta, rice, etc.). Due to that, there is no need to sell them regularly.
Set up payment and delivery methods
As previously mentioned, online stores can provide more payment methods than brick-and-mortar stores. Take advantage of it and choose options that will satisfy your customers. When it comes to grocery delivery methods, it will depend on the size of the business and offered products. The first option is a standard one. A business has an employee that is responsible for delivery. The second option is to use the services of an external company that specializes in delivering food products. Also, a company can use services like InPost Fresh, where a client orders groceries in an InPost app, and the delivery drivers will pick it up from your store. Another option for product delivery is site-to-store pickup. This solution requires having a stationery store that is integrated with an eCommerce website and enables clients to collect products from your physical shop.
Marketing is an essential aspect of running an online store, as it drives traffic and builds brand awareness. The sheer number of eCommerce stores can make it difficult to stand out and attract customers, regardless of the quality of its products or services. Taking this into consideration, it is important to develop a marketing strategy in order to grow the customer base and reach specific business goals. The era of social media created new opportunities for advertising and promoting products, and platforms like Facebook or Instagram enable to directly engage with a target audience. Try to take advantage of it by showcasing products, sharing content (e.g., engaging posts about your products), or offering discounts for new customers. Speaking of discounts, another good example of marketing is rewarding your customers with promotions, coupon codes, and more. Show that you care about them and appreciate their contribution to running the store.
When choosing an eCommerce platform, keep an eye out for functionalities focused on the shopping experience and marketing. An example of such a platform is Shopware, which consists of marketing automation tools, as well as the support of third-party services like search engine optimization (SEO) and analytics.
Maintenance of the store
Last but not least, remember about the maintenance of the website. Regular maintenance ensures that the website is running smoothly and provides a positive user experience for customers. The technical aspect includes performing routine updates and security checks to prevent technical issues and ensure that customer data is protected. However, also keep in mind regular updates of prices, product listings, and promotions in order to keep customers engaged and coming back for more. Furthermore, monitoring website traffic and users’ actions can provide valuable insights about customer behavior that can be used in marketing and personalization of the website.
How technology is changing online grocery shopping
The rapid advancements of technology impact various areas of our lives, and online shopping is no exception. Due to that, here are some examples of eCommerce trends that can be implemented in your store.
The first trend would be a voice search feature. Over the years, voice search technology underwent major changes, enabling its wider usage. Now, it is getting more and more popular in eCommerce as it has become a convenient and fast way of searching for products. Additionally, voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa are optimized to make purchases using only a person’s voice. The second feature that has risen in popularity in recent years is chatbots. These AI-powered programs support online stores by answering clients’ questions and guiding them on the website. They can also work as customer support, addressing problems without the involvement of support teams. Another trend that shaped the eCommerce world is mobile commerce. It refers to buying and selling products/services via mobile devices. As more and more people shop online by using smartphones or tablets, it is worth considering optimizing the website for mobile devices by investing in a progressive web application (PWA) or developing a dedicated application for mobile devices. Such websites and applications provide a more personalized and user-friendly experience, which can increase customer engagement and sales. What’s more, the checkout process is faster and easier in comparison to using a traditional website. This, in turn, reduces the rate of cart abandonment.
As presented in this article, the online grocery market is doing well and shows no signs of stopping. By following the previously mentioned steps, you can create an eCommerce site that will benefit both the owner and the customers.
If you are looking for great features for grocery eCommerce, check out our solutions for the grocery industry.