FlyBuy’s Executive Vice President of Global Partnerships, Jeff Baskin, recently took part in the second of three Winsight Grocery & Incisiv webinars, titled, “2020 Grocery Digital Maturity Deep Dive: The Last Mile Imperative.” On the panel with Jeff were: Steve Paro, Co-founder and CTO, ShopperKit; Mark Fairhurst, Vice President Marketing, Mercatus; and Gaurav Pant, Co-founder and Chief Insights Officer for Incisiv.

The webinar illustrated some of the findings from the 2nd Annual Grocery Digital Maturity Benchmark Report, which studied 195 attributes from the top 90 grocery retailers in the US, Canada, and Western Europe.

The panel focused on the importance of last-mile fulfilment for retailers and grocers. The COVID-19 pandemic has completely recalibrated the adoption of online grocery. A shift in shopper behavior to curbside grocery pickup has caused a massive surge in the growth of digital sales, which is predicted to more than double ($100 Billion → $250 Billion) in the next five years. The industry must now adopt new strategies to manage the shift. But how? Here are some of the highlights the panel discussed:

Rethink Loyalty 

Pre-COVID, the ultimate loyalty factor in grocery was location: the closest store to a customer usually got their business. However, in the new world of online grocery, there are several other factors that influence loyalty, the most important of which is the digital experience. If these same neighborhood stores don’t have a robust digital strategy, their customers are likely to shop elsewhere. It’s much harder to retain customers in online shopping than traditional in-store shopping, and grocers are already seeing this decline in loyalty.

Does that mean loyalty is now dead? Absolutely not, but it’s changed. No longer just about discounts and fuel points, loyalty has shifted to experience. And it all starts with time, as customers value their time now more than ever. Enabling customers to quickly add items to their carts, get through the eCommerce flow, and get in/out of a grocer’s parking lot, thanks to an enhanced curbside pickup solution like FlyBuy, is the foundation of creating the frictionless experience that keeps customers coming back.

The other crucial element of building loyalty with today’s online shoppers is creating a high-touch digital environment that fosters engagement between store staff and customers, and makes an online purchase as seamless as walking through a store. Utilizing technology to offer this concierge-type experience will not only protect from the “where can I get it cheaper?” mentality, but customers may even be willing to pay more and/or drive farther to get what they want when they want it.

Focus on Fulfillment 

Fulfillment is key in prioritizing the last mile for profitability, as inventory is the new open-for-business sign. Driving both loyalty and urgency by showing what you have available to shoppers is pivotal in making sure a customer shops at your store rather than with a competitor. 

Operational execution is just as important as inventory. After all, it’s great when a customer can let a store know when they’re coming, but if there’s no one there to receive that curbside pickup notification the whole process falls apart. Yet for those working on thin margins, simply hiring more staff isn’t the answer either. 

This is where integrating adaptable curbside and BOPIS technology comes in. Solutions like FlyBuy allow for seamless fulfilment at scale. FlyBuy plugs into the existing eCommerce ecosystem and allows staff to prioritize picking so they fulfill as many orders with as few people as possible. 

Play It Small

With a clear digital gap between large and small grocers, it might be tempting for small grocers to try to mimic the big guys’ low price strategy. Without the benefit of large balance sheets, however, small grocers simply can’t afford that route. 

Instead they need to differentiate themselves in terms of customer experience both online and offline to foster loyalty. To do that, smaller, regional grocers need to extend what they’re already doing. Continue to offer fair prices and market services with signage and through local channels, just like when customers were coming in stores. Except now, market your online program specifically and tell customers the best way to interact. 

By layering in BOPIS technology and curbside pickup technology with their “neighborhood store” feel, small grocers can create that white-glove experience that can’t be matched by a big retailer. 

Click here to learn about FlyBuy Pickup and here to listen to the webinar. 

To download the Grocery Digital Maturity Benchmark report, click here.