Evaluating Grocery eCommerce Platforms for Performance

April 14, 2014 Bohdan Zabawskyj

 

The days of tricks and gimmicks to try and hook consumers into a grocery eCommerce service are long gone. With more competitors getting into the game than ever before, companies now need to focus on mastering their business operations to maximize performance, provide consistency and boost their customer satisfaction levels to an all-time high if they want to remain in the running. Obviously, an eCommerce platform is necessary to make this happen, but how do business leaders know if their solution of choice is providing their firm with the best tools to make an impact on this growing, high-value market? A recent report from Practical Ecommerce highlighted some ways that overhauling or updating platforms can be a highly advantageous move in today’s digital landscape.

 

Understanding the importance of an eCommerce platform

For some growing companies, the role of a comprehensive eCommerce solution may be a bit cloudy. It is crucial that budding grocery retailers know the ins and outs of the technology which will essentially determine the outcome of their endeavors to capture a portion of the grocery eCommerce market. Independent Retailer presented the key features of a platform that every business needs to check off its list:

 

  • Content management that promotes, informs and reveals details about products. This is key for online grocers who need to clearly display their inventories.
  • A search function that allows employees and customers to quickly track down an item or find out more about a product before they distribute or purchase it.
  • Shopping carts to manage orders, check out and provide payment and delivery information to ensure a complete transaction.
  • Product management that serves as the underlying infrastructure for presenting, organizing and accessing items that can be easily configured and altered if necessary.
  • A pricing system that updates accurately and in real-time given a specific command. This is essential for a successful business model and can help promote discounts / sales as well.
  • Order management that provides the tools necessary to dynamically track, change and prioritize orders in real time.
  • Payment systems that support a wide array of methods. This is crucial for online grocers who want to give every consumer the chance to sign on to their service.
  • Business logic that determines different rules for dealing with unique customers, which can be a supplement to retail intelligence that offers instant assessments of anyone making a purchase.
  • Merchandising that includes personalization, complex promotions, recommendations, up-sells and cross sells. This can hook customers and turn them into loyal members for those running a subscription service. A/B testing and other advanced merchandising methods can be integrated if so desired.
  • An emphasis on integration to provide customers with a streamlined, user-based experience that will keep them coming back. This requires a platform that connects or integrates with other systems, including accounting, customer relationship management, marketing automation, analytics and many others.

 

How are these platforms deployed and how fast?

There are many questions business leaders should ask themselves when looking to upgrade their eCommerce platforms; one is the time it will take to get the technology up and running. In this competitive digital age, the faster a solution can be implemented, the better. Price is also a large factor for growing online grocery retailers that need to keep a close eye on their overhead costs to maximize profits in their early stages of adoption. Independent Retailer recently explored some of these inquiries as well as a few others that are benchmarks of the request for proposal (RFP) process involving eCommerce platforms. Here are the ones that online grocers should think about the most:

 

Is it an omni-channel or single-platform solution?

In the increasingly competitive grocery eCommerce industry, businesses will need the edge when it comes to offering a variety of integrated communication channels for their customers. People want options and like knowing that they can access their services through mobile, tablet and standard desktop or laptop methods.

 

What is the best way to deploy the platform?

Smart business leaders want to know exactly how their new platform is going to be delivered, optimized and put to work. Independent Retailer explained that on premise, hosted and software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions are each distinct methods of implementation that will serve different business needs and function better for specific goals. In the realm of grocery eCommerce, however, maximum scalability and speed is key, so SaaS is commonly thought to be the best option for those looking to break in.

 

How does the IT department play into this?

Newly minted grocery eCommerce services need every extra dollar they can get, and spending a boatload on IT maintenance and tuning can break the bank quickly. By using SaaS instead of a hosted solution or on-premise suite, growing businesses can benefit from remote tech support that allows them to work on the things that really matter for their expansion.

 

 

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