In today’s digital world, we all expect seamless shopping experiences—no matter how, where, or why we’re shopping.
Every experience is a sequence of steps: in a good customer experience, consistent and smooth steps work together to take the customer on a journey that ultimately makes them happy.
However, take away any one of those steps—or insert a broken one—and the whole thing turns sour. Each and every step along the way plays an important role in the success of the whole experience, and no one individual step stands alone.
Today, that means seamlessly integrating your online and offline offerings to give your customer the best shopping experience possible, whether they shop online, in store, or through a hybrid of the two.
eCommerce: bigger, better and more influential every day
According to a Kantar Worldpanel report, online grocery sales grew by 15% and topped $48 billion globally in 2016. What’s more, it’s expected that by 2025, grocery eCommerce will account for 9% of the market, and will be worth $150 billion worldwide.
These are big numbers, and they’re being driven by a younger generation of shoppers that want—and expect—real-time, seamless, and efficient grocery eCommerce shopping experiences.
The millennial generation, which largely didn’t know life before technology and the Internet, is settling down, making more money, starting families, and buying homes. This generation’s influence on commerce is undeniable, and how it chooses to shop is probably today’s single biggest driver in eCommerce.
Every retailer strives to keep its customers happy. However, in order to do that today, they must be up-to-date with the latest eCommerce technology, which will enable them to provide a smooth, multi-channel shopping experience with no missteps.
So, as more and more grocery retailers embrace the marriage of their brick-and-mortar stores with eCommerce, what do they need to know to ensure the experience they’re providing is a unified one?
Grocery eCommerce technology: integration is key
Today’s tech-savvy customer demands smooth integration between their online and offline experiences. In other words: they want a multi-channel experience with no missteps.
We're all customers, and we understand how frustrating it is when a website says the product we want is in stock at our local store, but when we get there, it’s sold out. Or, when we arrive curbside to pick up our grocery order, and it’s not ready when the online system said it would be.
When online and offline experiences operate in silos—each with their own disparate systems and teams—it creates friction in the customer shopping experience.
The only true way to provide the smooth and seamless experience today's customers expect is with carefully thought-out and well-executed IT integration.
In its “7 trends that will define grocery retail in 2017”, FoodDIVE identifies “offline and online convergence” as the industry’s number one upcoming trend. With the way the current eCommerce landscape looks—and what customers are demanding of their shopping experiences—this comes as no surprise.
The only way to effectively achieve this convergence is with what PWC calls “a common IT backbone”—one of the top three success factors that PWC says retailers must address in order to effectively compete in a multi-channel future.
To truly meet the multi-channel demands of today’s customer, retailers must link all their channels to a single, common IT backbone so they can provide visibility and a seamless experience across all channels, so that, for instance, customers checking the website can determine the availability (and the quantity available) of an item in the store.
Proper integration of grocery technology provides a real-time flow of data, and saves time and money by minimizing the need for manual data entry, allowing retail executives to better manage staff and focus their efforts elsewhere.
The bottom line
Unification is the backbone to creating the ultimate customer experience. With everything managed from one place, the process becomes seamless, efficient, and consistent each and every time, every step of the way.
For more information on how integrated systems influence eCommerce revenue, download our whitepaper, “Integrated Systems: The Key to Building eCommerce Profits” below.