There are significant challenges for grocers ready to offer online/mobile ordering, even when you use the six steps to OMNI success, outlined in part one of this series. Here are the major potential stumbling blocks that can impede your growth:

  • Training -Making your store employees the ambassadors of the business, proper checklists for pick/pack and maintaining chill chain; ensure that your internal resources are trained on online shopping as the skill sets are different than needed for traditional brick and mortar.
  • Technology -Ensuring that you have the right technology, both software and hardware and a phased plan to prioritize and build (whether in house or outsource) to keep the pick and pack at a fast pace to avoid a high CPO (cost per order). Set aside IT resources to maintain what you created. The best website will not perform at the same level in three months if you do not continue to optimize it.
  • Internal resources -not budgeting properly for the headcount needed for in store operations management and shopping, customer service, maintenance of the website content and core assortment, analytics, SEO, P&L management and overall team to continue to develop, manage what you have created and assist in improvement, evolution, and documentation of process and procedure.  Fractured and siloed work efforts often separate the ecommerce portion of the business from the greater enterprise because the organizational set up is not facilitating integration and subsequent growth across channels.
  • Delivery – explore your options depending upon the demographic. You may use different models depending upon the geographic location. This is the one most costly mistake that can be made and can increase your CPO so you are not even at break even.
  • Pick/Pack –food handling, picking properly by merchandising the store for the shortest shop, engaging your specialty markets for timing and operational execution.
  • Food Integrity/Safety –not maintaining the proper temperatures for chilled and frozen items from the time they are picked to the time they reach the customer’s door is a huge exposure. When done properly, this will build the fresh/produce basket with each order.
  • Marketing- online shopping is a marketing driven business. You need to build the budget for creating awareness and use online marketing and various other tactics than are used for the brick and mortar. Keeping the customers you get to order once requires marketing and outreach and retaining them is cheaper than acquiring new customers. Vendors will work with you to be able to offer incentives and additional monetization of the site, which benefits both the enterprise and the customer.
  • Merchandising/Content Management of your online assortment (cross mapping, cross and upselling,), providing the best content available so that visitors will be brought to YOUR site and not somewhere else is critical. Ensure that you keep good track of discontinued items, new items, and all attribute information. Offer substitutions, similar items to avoid out of stock exposures.
  • Customer Service- single view of the customer, both to build relevance for the customer as well as provide rich data for the business. A website that has the functionality and robust content that customers demand – Being customer centric requires the addition of certain new customer engagement tools, such as VOC, Ratings and Reviews and Recommendations. Check out Opinionlab for Customer Feedback and listening, Reevoo for ratings/reviews and MyBuys for recommendations. There are many competitors in the space. Once you are live, reach out to your customers after their first order as it will ensure a second. Expect one call per first order and plan your customer service team around this metric. As trust is built this will drop off over time. It is imperative that customer service is trained properly

Many large retailers have forayed into online shopping (ie, Hannaford’s, Shaws) and have gotten out of it due to severe losses incurred by the above bullets. They have not re-entered, although I would love to assist them! Companies that are thriving have made the integration successful between the web and the store, to increase overall enterprise revenue and the push/pull from web to store and store to web, through OMNI channels of shopping.

At FreshXperts, we can help you identify the barriers to acquisition, plan an effective and prioritized roadmap for entrance into the online grocery shopping venture, create an entire operational plan while helping you execute on it. YOU CAN DO THIS!

To find more information on Heidi Chapnick, view her on LinkedIn or articles in trade magazines on the six step approach by googling, for example “Cross Channel Commerce, the six steps, Step (1) ” or by going to the “FreshXperts” home page.

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Heidi Chapnick

Heidi Chapnick

Being passionate about ‘fresh’ food is who we are. Some of us volunteered, feeding the hungry and got interested in all the waste in this country, always wondering how to make things better for our hungry masses and keeping it, "fresh". We also feel for the growers who are scrambling to sell their products and keep them fresh and the retailers who keep us fed. Working with all channels of sales and from seedling to table, it gives us the ability to assist with making sure the integrity of fresh items remains, keeping food borne illnesses and cross contamination at bay for happy growers, shippers, retailers and shoppers.