Omnichannel Performance of Grocery Retailers a Mixed Bag in Report

e-grocery keyboard and cart

With an omnichannel approach becoming ever more prevalent in the grocery industry, a new report found grocery retailers excelling in some areas while needing a bit of improvement in others.

That’s according to a new omnichannel readiness benchmarking report from trade group the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and retail consultancy FitForCommerce. Researchers shopped and evaluated 26 U.S. food retailers (22 national/regional grocery chains and four clubs and super centers) across more than 175 mobile, web and in-store criteria.

In the key area of delivery and fulfillment, grocery retailers did particularly well. Nearly all (96%) offered some type of delivery service for customers, with 81% making store pickup available and 77% providing both.

While grocery retailers scored extremely well on digital best practices (navigation, search and filtering capabilities), all north of 90% in terms of implementation, the report showed the critical area of ratings and reviews – standard in other areas of retail – needed shoring up. Only 35% of grocers offered ratings and reviews on product detail pages, with just 20% providing them on category/product listing pages and 15% provided sortable ratings on those same pages.

“The ability to view ratings and reviews is among the primary reasons that consumers shop on Amazon,” the report stated. “When implemented right … (they) can help shoppers find what they are looking for and reassure that they are making an informed purchase decision. Despite the obvious benefits and limited implementation requirements, very few food retailers have adopted ratings and reviews throughout the site experience.”

The results for virtual shopping carts and checkout were a mixed bag. While all the grocers in the benchmarking report auto-saved items to a cart, only 38% displayed shipping costs in the cart, 34% displayed product recommendations, and just 12% had a “save for later” option. Over half (58%) did provide threshold messaging that let shoppers know when they qualified for free shipping. Over 80% of companies allow editing of quantities at checkout, just 42% let shoppers change their fulfillment method at the final stage.

Grocers scored fairly well in the area of personalization, now a major success factor across B2C ecommerce. Sixty-five percent included homepage recommendations, and 62% updated recommendations based on browsing, in a first visit. Upon a second visit, 62% updated category pages based on the prior visit, 80% displayed previously viewed items and the same number recognized shoppers by name.

“Food retailers are typically more advanced in the management of rewards and loyalty programs than retailers in other verticals,” the report stated. “These programs offer a significant opportunity to capture valuable customer data that can in turn be used to elevate personalization initiatives.”

While allowing customers to manage preferences is a simple way to capture data that drives targeted messaging – such as what types of emails to receive and how often, preferred brands and dietary preferences – only 4% of companies in the index offer advanced account settings.

With mobile commerce on the rise and smartphones ubiquitous, every grocery surveyed has a branded app, but only 38% of them include shopping and checkout functionality. Of those grocers managing ecommerce themselves, 33% didn’t offer ecommerce capabilities via the app. Instead, most were used for rewards and loyalty as well as in-store shopping tools, coupons and digital shopping lists.

Forty-two percent of those surveyed offer mobile shopping via a third-party vendor, and 90% of them have a separate brand app for loyalty, rewards, coupons and shopping lists.

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