Article by Sam Cinquegrani published in Food Dive

Using ​touchpoints​ ​​to ​boost​ online ​grocery sales​ and​ engagement​ - objectwave

Grocery​ stores​ ​​and​ ​supermarkets​ ​are ​starting​ to​​ analyze​ and​​ understand​ ​consumer​ ​preferences through​ ​select retail touchpoints.​ ​​​Physical​ ​or ​​virtual, ​they​​ could​ ​include ​​mobile,​ physical​ point-​​of-sale​ ​and​ ​online​ ​orders.​ ​With​ the​ information​ ​gathered ​​from​ ​engagements, ​​transactions ​and​ loyalty​ ​programs, ​​these​ retailers​ ​are​ ​developing ​​more​ ​targeted​ and​​ ​effective ​​methods​ ​of marketing​ ​and​ ​customer ​engagement.​

However,​ ​to​ further​ ​sharpen ​their ​​efforts,​ there’s ​​a ​way​ in​​ which​ ​grocery​ retailers ​can​ take ​​the initiative​ ​to​ ​a​ ​more​ ​sophisticated​ ​level.​ ​Connecting ​and​​ ​integrating​​ ​physical​ ​and ​digital ​retail​ touchpoints​ ​with ​​which​ ​customers​ ​interact​ ​every​ ​day,​ as​ ​​well ​​as​ ​adding​ ​new​ ones​ ​​to ​​the​ ​mix, ​​is a​ ​strategy ​mostly ​unexplored ​​by ​grocers.​​ ​It​ ​offers​ many ​​advantages​ ​when​ ​properly​ ​executed.

Creating​ ​a​ complete​ ​view​ ​of ​​customers

“Know ​​your​ customer”​ has​ ​become ​​the​ rallying​ ​cry​ ​​of ​​every​ ​retail​ ​business.​ But​ ​even​ ​if​ ​a business​ knows exactly​ ​what​ ​that​ ​entails, ​gaining​ ​​a ​​highly ​nuanced​ ​​understanding ​​of​ ​them​ ​is ​​a​ complex​ task.​
What’s​ required​ is​​ ​increasing​ functionality​ and​​ capacity​ ​in​ ​​the​ ​way ​that​​ ​data ​is​​ ​gathered,​ ​stored and​ ​analyzed.​ ​In​ practical​ terms,​ ​it​​ ​means ​that​ ​grocers​ need​ ​to​ ​integrate​ ​their​ digital​ ​and​ ​in-store touchpoints​ ​to ​better​ ​​bring ​together​ ​and ​​study ​customer​​ data​​ ​at​ a​ ​level ​​that​ ​makes​ a​ ​critical difference.

Better ​​integration​ ​also​ ​means​ ​better ​​omnichannel​ ​experiences​ for​ customers:​ ​Now,​ ​customers won’t ​​have ​​issues​ ​when​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​use​ ​a ​​digital​ ​coupon​ ​in-store,​ ​and​ vice​ ​​versa. ​​And ​with​ ​​all touchpoints​ aligned,​ ​no​ ​matter ​which ​device is​ ​used ​for​​ ​an​ online​ ​order,​​ ​communicating information​ ​​will​ not​ ​result​ ​in​ a​​ ​negative ​​experience.

Integrating ​​touchpoints​ will​ ​yield​ ​gains​ ​both ​in​ ​terms​​ of​ ​more​​ ​effective​ ​marketing​ campaigns​ ​​and improved​ ​understanding​ ​of ​​customer​ ​behaviors.​ ​​This​ ​in​ ​turn ​​enhances ​​outcomes related ​​to​ ​staffing,​ ​product​ ​choices,​ stocking​​ ​and​ ​many​ ​other​ ​day-to-day​ ​aspects. ​Eventually,​ grocers​ can​ take​ ​further​ ​steps​ ​to​ ​boost​ ​the​ in-store​​ ​experience,​ ​such​ ​as​ ​drawing​ ​on​ past​ purchasing​ data​​ ​to​ suggest​​ ​recipes ​​and​ ​related ​​items​ ​to ​​make​ ​customers​ ​feel​ ​recognized​ and​ valued.

What​ ​touch​points​ are​ ​grocers​ currently ​using?​

The ​​fact​ ​is,​ ​there​ ​aren’t​ ​many​ ​retail ​​touchpoints ​currently​​ ​in​ ​use​ ​by​ grocers.​ ​Outside​ ​​of​ ​online orders​ and​​ ​scheduling​ ​in-store​ pickup​​ — ​something ​that​​ ​starts ​​digitally, ​​but​ ​ends ​as​​ a​​ ​physical activity — ​few​ ​others​ ​are ​​in​ widespread​ use.​ ​​It’s ​a​ ​challenge​​ — both​​ ​in​ ​terms ​of​ ​​choosing ​which​​ are the​ ​best​ touchpoints​ for​​ ​the​ ​job ​and​​ getting​​ ​them to be ​operational.​ But​ ​it’s​ ​the​ ​job​​ ​of​ every​ forward-thinking​ ​grocery​ ​chain​ ​to ​​figure​ ​out​ ​what ​​to​ ​introduce​ ​and ​​when to introduce them,​ pegged​ ​​to stores’ ​knowledge​ ​of ​the​​ ​customer.

Where ​​can ​​stores ​​start?​

Here​ ​is ​​a ​​quick​ overview​ of​ ​the​ ​key ​​touchpoints.

Beacons:​ These​ ​can​​ ​gather​ ​location​ data​ ​​from ​​customers,​ but​​ their​​ ​major ​​value ​​comes from ​​providing​ ​customers​ ​with​ ​suggestions​ ​or​ ​an ​​entire​ ​grocery​ ​list​ ​based​ on​​ past​​ ​visits, ​items​ currently ​​in ​​an ​​online ​​cart,​ current​ ​promotions​ ​and​ ​​other​ ​factors. ​​This ​type​ ​of​ ​convenience​ ​is​ clearly ​​demonstrated ​​to​ customers​ ​and​​ provides​ ​​a ​​direct​ ​value.

Mobile: ​A​​ ​​​strong​ mobile​​ presence​ ​​​means​ easy​​ ​access​ to​ ​​coupons ​and​​ offers,​​ ​as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​a method​ ​of​ receiving​​ ​suggestions​ or​ ​​a ​​full​ ​shopping ​list​ ​offered​ ​​by ​​a ​beacon.​ ​Shoppers​​ ​are ​​more engaged ​​when ​​they​ ​can​ seamlessly​ ​use​ ​their​ ​mobile​​ devices​​ in-store​ ​and​​ ​communicate discount​ ​information ​and​ ​other​ details​​ ​at​ the​​ point​ ​of​​ sale.​

RFID: This​ ​makes​ ​checkout​​ ​incredibly​ convenient. With​ ​the​ right​ framework,​ ​​customers​ ​can have ​payment​ ​data​​ ​on​ ​file​ ​and​ ​simply​ walk​ out​​ with​ ​​their ​​purchases​, ​​while ​also​ ​offering​ a​ dedicated​ channel​ ​for​​ ​gathering ​​real-time, ​individualized​ ​purchasing​ ​​data.​ This​ type​ ​of​ ​dual​ benefit​ ​boosts​ ​satisfaction​ ​and​ ​provides ​​useful ​​data​ ​in​ an​ ​efficient​​ manner.​

Centralized​ repository​​ of​ ​customer​​ data:​ ​Ultimately,​​​ ​data​ from​​ each​​ ​of​ the​​ aforementioned​ touchpoints​ can​ be​ ​​added​ ​to​ ​this​ ​central ​repository.​ ​​​Such ​a​ ​system​ ​is​ ​vital.​​ ​​​CRM​ ​platforms​ and​ similar​ data​​ ​solutions​ are​​ almost​ ​​ubiquitous​ ​across​ the​​ ​business​ ​world ​​because​ of​​ ​their​ value​ ​in​ gathering, ​storing​​ ​and​ ​analyzing​ ​customer​ ​information​ ​in one​​ ​place. ​A​​ single​ ​source​​ ​of​ ​all customer​ ​information​ makes​ ​more​ ​targeted​ ​​marketing ​​possible, ​​while ​​also ​​providing ​​valuable data ​​that​ ​can ​positively​ influence​​ ​operations​ ​and ​​decision-making.​ ​Grocers​ need​ ​​to​ have​​ ​tools​ in​ place​ to​​ ​effectively​ ​use​ ​the​ ​data ​they​ ​​plan​ to​ ​​gather​ ​through​ increased​​ deployment​ ​​of touchpoints.

Grocery​ stores​ ​and​ supermarkets​ ​​are ​unique​​ ​in​ ​the ​sense​​ ​that​ ​e-commerce​ ​may​ ​never​ fully​ overtake​ physical​​ ​stores.​ ​The ​need​​ ​for​ ​food​ ​preparation​ areas,​ ​​consumer​ desire​ ​to​ ​​inspect produce​, and​​ other​ ​​factors​ ​mean​ ​grocers​ ​will​ need​ ​​a​ storefront​ ​for​ ​the​ ​​predictable​ ​future.​ ​But​ ​that doesn’t ​​preclude ​​figuring ​out​ ​how​​ digital​​ touchpoints​ ​​could​ ​further​ enhance​ ​​their​ game​ ​​and​ ​gain market​ ​share. ​​Adding​ these​​ touchpoints​ ​​into​ one​ broad​​ funnel​​ ​for​ ​gathering ​​and ​integrating​ customer​ data​ ​​will​ enable​​ ​grocers​ ​to​ ​help​ ​their​ shoppers​​ ​each​ ​time ​they​​ ​make ​​a​ ​trip ​​to ​the​ ​​store, making ​a ​​faster,​ ​easier​ and​​ ​more ​engaging​ ​​time.

What ​does​​ success​​ ​in​ ​integrating ​​retail​ ​touchpoints​ ​look​ ​like?

Ultimately,​ a​​ ​fully​ ​integrated​ ​network​ ​of​ ​touchpoints​ — one​​ ​that​ ​allows,​ ​for​ ​example,​ ​a​ partial​ grocery​ ​list​ ​assembled​ ​online​ ​to​ ​be​ ​shared ​with​​ ​the​ ​customer​ or​ ​​assembled ​​for​ ​them​ as​ ​​they make ​​other​ selections in-store —and​​ ​a​ combined​​ data​​ repository​ ​​are ​​clear​ markers​​ ​of ​​success.​ ​These touchpoints​ ​will​ enhance​ ​​convenience​ ​in ​all​​ ​aspects​ ​of ​shopping​, ​​as ​well​ ​as​ ​the​ overall​ ​​shopper experience.



Sam Cinquegrani

Sam Cinquegrani

Founder and Chief Executive Officer

ObjectWave is a full-service provider of digital commerce solutions. He can be reached at [email protected].

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