How Digital Transformation is Reshaping the Grocery Industry

digital transformation

How Digital Transformation Is Reshaping the Grocery Industry

In the highly competitive, low-margin world of the grocery industry, digital transformation presents significant challenges, while at the same time offering tremendous opportunities.

Traditional brick-and-mortar stores continue to dominate the grocery shopping experience, but e-grocery is growing in popularity. According to a recent study, 23 percent of American households are buying food online today. A similar study predicts total US online grocery sales will rise to nearly $30 billion by 2021.

To compete with tech-savvy retailers such as Amazon, stores are beefing up delivery options for customers, such as same-day grocery delivery and curbside pickup services. These efforts are designed to improve the customer experience, which helps to improve engagement and retention.

Ultimately, consumers want a multichannel personalized experience. This means options that range from in-store self-checkout to eCommerce and mobile applications. They also want an expanded range of payment options. For grocers, payment optimization is extremely important in this low-margin business. To achieve this, stores need to reduce the total cost of payment acceptance by lowering fees and fraud rates.

Payment Made Easy

By simplifying transactions, grocers can make shopping more convenient, dramatically improving customer experience. 

Some forward-thinking grocers are exploring options that promote lower cost payments, such as an automated clearing house (ACH), in exchange for loyalty offers and other promotions. This provides a win/win for customers and the grocer as patrons earn rewards, while grocers drive down costs.

As mobile payments become increasingly popular with shoppers, grocers are exploring the ability to vault accounts securely in a mobile application, whether it be Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, PayPal, a Visa checkout, or a card on file. This allows them to use tokens to authorize transactions in a secure way that doesn’t require shoppers to re-enter card details each time they make a purchase. By simplifying transactions, grocers can make shopping more convenient, dramatically improving their customer experience.

Where Loyalty Lies

Beyond encouraging payment options, loyalty programs and rewards have proved highly effective at attracting customers and improving sales. A 2018 study, found that 75 percent of shoppers would engage with loyalty programs if they made rewards information more mobile-friendly. Further, while nearly a third of consumers still prefer to print paper coupons at home, 69 percent prefer to store and redeem mobile coupons from their phones, rather than download and print coupons.

Additionally, gift cards, also known as branded currency, are presenting new sales growth opportunities for grocers, while improving customer loyalty and reducing the overall cost of payments. First Data’s 18th “Prepaid Consumer Insights Study” found significant spend lift from gift cards in the grocery business. The survey revealed that for every gift card purchased, shoppers spent on average 94 percent more than the original value of their card.

Digital transformation is literally changing how business is done in the grocery industry. And as new competitors enter the marketplace, and experience-enhancing innovations push the industry forward, grocers must remain nimble to meet the changing demands of consumers. Those grocers who are best able to adapt to this ongoing evolution will be ideally suited to succeed in the future.

Resource Credit | Progressive Grocer 

Selecting a cloud-based ERP for your small business

cloud erp

How to select a cloud-based ERP for a small business

Enterprise resource planning software. It sounds our of reach for most small businesses. A system reserved for big multinationals with thousands of users and lots of cash lying around. Perhaps it’s because of the name? In fact, more and more small businesses are adopting ERP. Advances in technology (think cloud) bring new levels of productivity at lower costs to businesses of all sizes.

These efficiency-boosting tools aren’t out of reach anymore. But choosing the right ERP for your business is a challenge. This quick guide will steer you in the right direction.

ERP requirements for small businesses

The abundance of choice can make an ERP selection mind-boggling. For small businesses with limited resources, the majority of research and decision-making rests on a small number of shoulders. Defining what exactly you need your ERP to do is the first step. Every business is unique in its challenges so you’ll need to align your strategic goals with your ERP requirements:

  • Map the processes you need to streamline and prioritize features accordingly.
  • Look for system failures specific to your industry and look for vendors who fit.
  • Calculate your budget and forecast your ROI
  • Decide if you have enough in-house experience or need an independent consultant

Cloud vs on-premise ERP

One of the biggest challenges for small businesses looking to invest in new software has been infrastructure. Traditionally, if you didn’t have the right environment or enough hardware to support it, an upgrade would require serious investment. Even if you did have the capital to get enough hardware and on-premise storage to handle an ERP system, your time to ROI could make the whole project untenable.

Luckily, the cloud has come to the rescue. Small businesses can store more data and implement new business apps without killing the bottom line. Cloud services are typically sold as a subscription service, making it easier to get underway without huge upfront costs. Cash flow is king for small businesses so fixed costs are preferable to spikes in investment that can you leave you vulnerable.

Cloud subscriptions remove barriers for small businesses that want to invest in ERP. But that doesn’t mean you should jump in with both feet. Compare vendor prices and models carefully. Look at your growth projections and contract durations on offer. If you expect to grow your user base, make sure you choose a plan that gives you plenty of breathing room. Most plans are priced per user (or on a range of users). You might think that 10 or 20 users are enough today, but what happens in one, two, or five years’ time?

Shortlisting cloud-based ERPs

Now you know what problems you want your ERP to solve, that cloud is the most likely route and how to create a selection process, it’s time to put the wheels in motion. It probably won’t take long to whittle your options down to a shortlist. Once you have a list of requirements, it’s time to set about requesting proposals.

ERP options have now become more affordable for small businesses to consider. We have experience advising small businesses on which functionalities would best suit their needs in their new ERP solution. If you would like to learn more about how cloud-based business solutions can help grow your business, contact allonline365 on or +27 (21) 205 3650.

Resource Credit | ERPFocus

How omnichannel will change retail forever

omnichannel will change retail

Resource Credit | Gerard Szatvanyi, Progressive Grocer

Omnichannel will change grocery shopping forever

Grocery shopping is a necessary part of life, yet the way in which most consumers shop for groceries has not evolved with the same ease that shopping for other items such as clothing or even cars has. Grocers are faced with a unique challenge when it comes to providing a seamless, innovative shopping experience to customers.

How can retailers recreate online the experience of walking down the aisles and weighing produce? How do customers manage a cart full of 50 items or more from their smartphones?

These are not easy questions to answer, and grocers are still working out the kinks, but one thing is overwhelmingly clear: The grocery experience is changing, and grocers need to adapt now to keep up.

Still not convinced? “The Store of the Future” report, from Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council and Kantar Consulting, predicts that online grocery sales will take 20 percent of total grocery retail by 2025. And according to Forrester, the global online grocery market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.3 percent to reach $334 billion by 2022, capturing 5.2 percent of total sales.

So, before we even focus on great in-store advancements like robots and smart shelves, how can grocers create a seamless grocery experience online – something often easier said than done?

Key considerations for a unified online shopping experience

When looking to engage with a customer, bring them to shop, and ultimately get them to purchase, there are a few essential ingredients:

  • First, an easily navigable website is key. If customers cannot find what they are looking for online in a matter of seconds, chances are they’re already gone.
  • Personalized promotions and recommendations also go a long way. No one wants to get more than 100 emails a day with sales and discounts on products they have no interest in. It’s more than likely that grocery customers buy similar items each time they shop, and retailers need a complete picture of shoppers’ purchase histories to power these recommendations.
  • Another feature that is essential to online grocery experience is the ability for customers to add products by weight, piece or package.  There’s no easy way to replicate a produce scale online, yet retailers need to satisfy customers who shop items by the pound. Additionally, retailers need to give consumers the ability to add a large number of items to their carts – a shopper could have up to 100 items, and grocers need an eCommerce platform that can handle that.
  • Shoppers are also seeking the option to shop for items from a particular recipe, or the ability to search options for specific events like Super Bowl or a birthday party. Similar to how items such as candles and cakes are situated close together in-store to optimize sales, grocers need to take this approach online.
  • Like on any good eCommerce site, shoppers should have the option to view and write reviews on their favorite products. In a physical grocery store, this is not an option, but in the evolving world of online grocery, customers should be able to express their opinions and get honest feedback from fellow shoppers.
  • The ability to fulfill how they want, when they want will also be key for customers. Options to shop in-store or online, pickup, ship to home – the list goes on. The same can be said for flexible payment options. The ability to pay in-store and ship to home or pay online and pick up in-store will help revolutionize the grocery experience.

Technology’s shifting role

Consumer expectations are constantly changing and adding technology to aid and improve the shopping experience is a great way to keep pace with customer demands. Retailers are investing in IoT, AI, machine learning more than ever before. 

In the modern era of grocery, consumers can shop on their phones and from their driver’s seats. Stores are managing their inventories with smart-shelf technology, and BOPIS (buy online, pickup in-store) is now almost commonplace across the retail industry. These innovations, coupled with a stellar eCommerce platform, marry the online and in-store grocery experience, allowing an ideal and efficient experience for all customers.

And it doesn’t stop with the consumer – technology is helping store associates level up their skills as well. These days, employers are looking for hardworking individuals who can build customer relationships, in addition to having superb selling skills.

Essentially, the job of store associates in 2019 is less about bagging groceries and more about knowing how to manage the wealth of technology and buying options that consumers have at their fingertips every day. Just like grocery stores are evolving, the roles of store associates are evolving too.

Retailers know that customer demands are always shifting, and the flexibility to keep up with and adapt to them will be crucial. It’s clear that grocers need to adjust their omnichannel strategies to ensure that they not only are meeting customer expectations online and off but are also differentiating themselves in the market while building efficiencies to drive sales and margins. 

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