If 2020 proved one thing to brick-and-mortar grocery stores, it’s that the ability to offer a fast and efficient online shopping service has clearly demonstrated its worth. Providing consumers an option to help curtail the spread of COVID became an enticing choice for its ease, speed, and affordability. With the rise of ultra-rapid grocery services, customers could get everything they wanted or needed without ever having to leave the house, and just like during the pre-Amazon Prime era, buyers were ready for — and warmly welcomed — this retail revolution.
Now that society is returning to some semblance of normalcy, this is one pandemic perk no one wants to give up. But where does that leave customer loyalty? Here’s where we think it’s headed:
Stock Up Now — Online Grocery Purchases Show No Signs of Slowing Down
According to Adobe, during the pandemic, consumers in the United States spent $1.7 trillion online, resulting in a rapid expansion of the digital economy. Now considered a major category in this arena, groceries sales are expected to hit more than $85 billion in online sales in 2022. That means customer demands and expectations are not only reaching new heights, but also showing no signs of slowing down regardless of what state society is in. People got used to getting their groceries without having to expend much effort, so without the ideal technology in place to offer these services in a seamless way, brands will have a hard time competing for market share and maintaining what they have.
Feed the Need — Customers Still Crave Loyalty Programs
While customers crave the advantages of ultra-rapid grocery services, that doesn’t mean they’ll abandon the loyalty programs they have come to know and love — or the ones that can offer them the perks they prefer. In fact, in recent reporting from The Food Institute, consumers are presenting a clear picture about what they see as the big benefits to loyalty programs, including convenience, exclusivity, community, and personalization. Innovation is also mentioned as key to keeping customers engaged, with the gamification trend mentioned as one example. Of course that means brands need to implement technology that can cater to specific needs and use it in the right way to keep customer loyalty programs a top priority. (The importance of which is something we’ve addressed before.)
Clear the Cart — Upgrade Your Technology (or Abandon What’s Old!) to Enhance Your Services
So, where do we go from here? For ultra-rapid grocery services to keep in step with consumers’ quick pace, it’s important for retailers to be agile and flexible enough online to monitor preferences as they simultaneously continue to offer the speed, ease, and affordability their loyal clientele have come to expect. That means effective brands must have technology that can sync with their long-term strategy and goals. As brands expand to match customer inclinations — which will continue to change — nothing is more critical than having the technology to expertly maintain these fluctuating movements.
There’s no denying ultra-rapid grocery services are something consumers have bought into, and we believe brands can handle these new challenges — just as long as they seek out the right technology as the solution.