The online grocery market has been growing steadily for years. People around the world have come to love convenience, choice, speed, service and more. But like many others, it’s a market that’s been supercharged by the pandemic.
Almost overnight, people had no choice but to order their groceries online and did so in astonishing numbers. Since the pandemic subsided, some have returned to supermarkets. Many others, however, preferred to continue ordering groceries online, as globally the online grocery market is one of the largest in commerce.
(Photo: Sakura Communications)
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Customer experience is key to differentiating in this crowded space populated by traditional supermarkets, specialty delivery companies, grocery start-ups, and more. To deliver CX that drives loyalty, the right technology platform is essential. And that means deploying a highly customized technology stack – composable commerce – rather than settling for a monolithic, legacy commerce platform.
The online grocery market – where are we now?
A recent study by Spryker revealed that 60% of UK consumers already shop for food online. In addition, within two years, one in four Britons would see themselves buying most of their groceries online. It’s a bit more advanced than other countries, but make no mistake – the US, Germany and other countries will all catch up.
The future of grocery shopping is largely online. Although some shoppers still like to shop in supermarkets, it is not sustainable. Younger generations are very comfortable shopping online, and it’s easy to see a future in which e-commerce will be the most dominant way to shop.
For any grocery store that puts even more emphasis on its physical stores, this is a growing problem that won’t go away. While brick-and-mortar stores aren’t going away overnight, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the main battleground for groceries will be online. Suppliers – whether traditional supermarkets, delivery companies, niche food vendors or otherwise – need to differentiate themselves and provide their customers with the best possible experience.
Technology and customer experience
With so many different types of businesses in the online grocery marketplace, having customer access is extremely important. It is essential for improving CX and an advantage that traditional supermarkets have over pure delivery services. Having customer access presents a huge opportunity for supermarkets to differentiate themselves, focusing on what they sell and how they sell it.
It is possible to achieve this – indeed, some supermarkets are already well advanced in this area – but it is very difficult when trying to use the heavy and aging technological infrastructures still operational at many large food retailers. These platforms are simply not suited to the demands of modern commerce. They are inflexible and make it much more difficult to add additional services and features that really stand out on CX.
A much more effective approach is for online grocers to take a modular route to commerce. This composable commerce methodology involves selecting the best solutions to “compose” a highly personalized technology stack. This allows a food retailer to deploy these new features, interact with customers using their preferred medium, and even offer unique pricing based on that customer’s preferences and needs.
(Photo: Sakura Communications)
The role of composable commerce
While this is more natural for modern grocery delivery businesses, it might seem like a major shift for supermarkets. While some have adapted reasonably well to the online grocery market, they have mostly relied on legacy systems. For the new order in online grocery, a world of CX, differentiation and agility, these old systems will no longer fit.
It’s a composable approach that greatly enhances a grocer’s ability to deliver first-class CX, and there are many other benefits as well. It’s much easier to use the best applications and replace or move them as business needs change, without affecting the rest of the architecture.
This seamless integration and use of open standards is vital. It simplifies the deployment of out-of-the-box components and ensures that there is no time-consuming and costly vendor lock-in. Additionally, composable commerce offers unparalleled agility and scalability as a grocery retailer’s business evolves – and that will change in such a dynamic market.
Offer unique experiences
Customers in the online grocery market want unique experiences; the only way to provide them is to be flexible enough to embrace modern technologies that drive innovation. The flexibility of composable commerce and a custom technology stack are key to delivering personalized CX and differentiating in a crowded online grocery marketplace.
In the United States and other countries around the world, consumers shop online using multiple channels. This makes omnichannel retail essential, not preferable, and makes differentiation and personalization in CX even more crucial. The key to all of this is composable trading.
Alexander Graf is co-founder and co-CEO of market experts Spryker and author of the bestselling book, The E-Commerce Book.
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