How Omnichannel is Changing Grocery Retail: A Guide for Business Owners

by Innovit Corporate Affairs | October 17, 2018 | Blog

What if the future had arrived and you hadn’t realized it?

For those in the grocery retail business, the future is already here in the form of omni-channel. Nonetheless, many managers and owners do not fully understand what omni-channel is and how it can transform their business.

Keep reading to discover exactly how omni-channel is changing grocery retail.

What Is Omni-Channel?

We’ve prepared a solid guide to how omni-channel can change the grocery game. Before we go any further, it’s important to understand what omni-channel actually is.

The word “omni-channel” is a catch-all term referring to businesses that offer customers multiple ways to shop and pay. For example, customers may be able to visit a physical store or do all their shopping from a computer or a smartphone.

Online giants like Amazon have helped persuade customers that being able to order products in multiple ways is beneficial. However, it has only been recently that grocery retailers have realized what omni-channel can mean to the world of food shopping.


Lean Into Your Strengths

Many owners imagine adding omni-channel to their retail grocery business as a matter of changing things. However, a large part of your potential success will come from sticking with what you know.

For instance, the most successful businesses have some primary quality that helps them stand out from the competition. For your grocery store, it might be offering the freshest food in town.

Omni-channel offers an ability for customers to access that fresh food more quickly. And omni-channel marketing allows for you to emphasize what you do best as a way of gaining even more customers.


Easy Expansion

Due to the possibility of spoilage, certain foods cannot be easily delivered through the mail. So, one omni-channel solution is having customers order online and then pick the food up from a physical location.

Currently, retailer Wal-Mart is experimenting with allowing customers to pick up from their stores. However, your own business may benefit from a different approach.

Instead of doing everything through existing stores or building new stores, you can build distribution and pick-up centers. Customers get all the convenience of picking up fresh food, and you’ll benefit by expanding your business more easily.

After all, it’s easier to build a simple pick-up center (essentially, a specialized warehouse) than to build an entire store.


Transform Your Store Inside and Out

Omni-channel is all about offering customers different ways of interacting with your business. However, these different ways might intersect in some exciting ways.

For instance, your customers will need a comprehensive and interactive way of browsing your food via phone. But why not include such a system inside your stores as well?

Customers would be able to quickly find out if a food item they need is in stock without having to walk through the store. And if it’s not, they can quickly order it from your own store without going somewhere else.

In this way, you increase customer convenience both online and offline and further build customer loyalty.


Going Granular

Like we said before, a successful omni-channel approach will find ways to emphasize what you are best at. And you may be able to enhance this by offering more granular products and services.

For instance, most grocery stores simply offer an assortment of fruit. It is up to customers to sift through the stock and find the freshest products to take home.

For online ordering, you could actually sort your fruit by freshness and sell the product at different price points. In this way, you can potentially drive up profits while also providing peace of mind that customers are getting the freshest possible fruit.


A More Efficient Workforce

There has been a lot of talk in recent years of how technology has been impacting the workforce. Specifically, a combination of online shopping and in-store automation has reduced the number of workers needed in any given store.

By fully embracing omni-channel in your retail grocery business, you can actually create a more efficient workforce. On the most basic level, this means assessing employee strengths and making sure they work in the appropriate areas. This could be in retail sales or as a stockist in a distribution center.

Furthermore, you may want to create new positions. For instance, your retail stores could now have hospitality assistants on the sales floor. This can streamline the customer experience and provide more of the offline shopping convenience that they crave.


Gain Profit

So far, we’ve been focusing on all the added convenience customers will have when you embrace an omni-channel approach. But did you know you’ll be positively impacting your bottom line as well?

Studies have shown that customers who use an omni-channel approach buy more than other customers inside retail stores. Furthermore, they buy even more when given the chance to buy things online.

Therefore, omni-channel is not just a buzzword or passing fad. Instead, it’s the future of retail grocery success in the face of stiff competition from Amazon and other online-only retailers.


The Power of CRM

We have outlined many of the potential benefits that omni-channel offers to your grocery store. However, we want to be upfront about something: these benefits will require an investment.

The most significant upfront investment will be to buy good Customer Relationship Management software. This is necessary both to track online and offline purchases and to forecast customer behavior.

On a basic level, this forecasting will help you stock enough food at your various locations to deal with both online and offline shoppers. But it also lets you make online recommendations to customers. For instance, “if you bought X, you may also want to buy Y.”

A good CRM is necessary but will pay for itself many times over. Your omni-channel approach will not be able to succeed without it.


Omni-Channel and Grocery Retail: The Bottom Line

Now you know how omni-channel can benefit your grocery retail business. But do you know who can help you get started?

At Innovit, we specialize in transforming businesses to help capitalize on emerging technologies and consumer behavior. To see how we can transform your business, request a demo today!