Grocery retailers that want to attract the loyalty of consumers are well aware of the importance of an omnichannel approach. This customer-centric approach focuses on creating a seamless experience across shopping channels. From the initial social media post or email newsletter, to the website or app and the trip to the store itself, customers expect to be able to move seamlessly between each channel. One aspect of the omnichannel experience in grocery retail that retailers struggle with is home delivery. The expense of last mile delivery on the retailers' side and scheduling issues on the consumers' end mean that for many it represents an unattractive option. One option that retailers have embraced of late is Click and Collect.
Click and Collect, while not as convenient as home delivery, offers an efficient compromise to time-poor shoppers. This service is often, but not always, free, while home delivery costs can be prohibitive. Click and Collect has the advantage of bringing consumers to the store, and while the ideal Click and Collect service doesn't require customers to leave their cars, there is an increased likelihood that the customer will enter the store itself to pick up a last-minute addition compared with home delivery. For grocery retailers eager to embrace personalisation, e-commerce is a vital source of behavioural data, but consumers first need to see online grocery shopping as an attractive prospect.
Online Grocery Is Taking Off
Online grocery sales are set to reach $100 billion dollars by 2025, and with Amazon disrupting the grocery industry with their Whole Foods takeover and their domination of online grocery in 2017, this is no surprise. One aspect of online grocery that Amazon has not yet embraced is Click and Collect. Currently, there are only two pickup locations, both in Seattle, but the Whole Foods merger leaves Amazon with 400 physical locations should they wish to expand their Click and Collect service.
Amazon may dominate online grocery, but they are far from the only innovators in the grocery space. Kroger has improved its digital presence, offering "faster and easier access to coupons, recipes, shopping lists and other features", and expanded its curbside pickup option. Walmart isn't lagging behind either. In 2017 they again expanded their Click and Collect service, this time offering a free Google Home to the first 250 customers to sign up to the service in Seattle. With plans to offer voice ordering for groceries in 2018, Walmart is focusing on a truly omnichannel approach.
This is a time of change in grocery retail, an industry that has lagged behind when it comes to e-commerce adoption. However, with innovations such as Click and Collect, shoppable recipes and meal kits, grocers' omnichannel efforts are helping consumers get to grips with the move towards digital.