In December 15% of UK retail sales took place online according to analysts. Customers are already online but many grocers have been slow to join them. Cost and complexity were the primary barriers for grocers but lessons are now emerging from Northern Europe that challenge those misconceptions.
Digital Foodie, headquartered in Finland, has helped convenience stores through to hypermarkets get online for several years. The company enables stores to start taking orders online quickly and provide home delivery as well as collect in store services.
The three priorities for implementation are speed, simplicity and cost-effectiveness. Stores do not require technical employees nor do they need to invest in equipment. Implementation is undertaken using remote software as a service, just like major corporations. The savings are enormous.
The most interesting lessons from the live stores have been the impact on sales and customer loyalty. Stores are reporting up to 30% increases in total store sales. Remarkably this results from new online sales and unexpected in-store sales increases.
New research is explaining why. Firstly, average basket value by store is commonly almost ten times higher after launching an online service and secondly, online sales are actually increasing customer engagement with stores and increasing loyalty. This is resulting in customers visiting stores even after they’ve started to shop online. Using Digital Foodie’s online tools, customers are becoming more familiar with in-store assortments and are building trusted relationships with home delivery staff.
Digital Foodie argues that this is a return to traditional grocery trade practice. Online is simply enabling grocers to do what they did in the past but more efficiently. It’s worth noting that in the past, many customers would telephone their orders into store for later home delivery. Now customers are using the same phone lines to order by keystrokes rather than voice calls.
To accelerate customer loyalty and engagement with stores, Digital Foodie has been a long-time leader in what analysts call personalised and social shopping. This involves customers sharing recipes, reviews and recommendations with each other. Store staff can simply observe the discussions or actively participate with recommendations and tips of their own. It provides valuable insight into changing local preferences and stores are able to play a visible role in the local community again.
Digital Foodie is now bringing its solutions to the UK and will be conducting trials with grocers in 2013. Stores interested in participating in the trials should contact Digital Foodie at email@example.com