Digital commerce is changing the world, and one of the most dynamic changes is how we locate and collect our food, drinks, and other fast-moving consumer goods. The tempo of change is linked to COVID-19, which contributed to a 54% increase in US grocery eCommerce in 2020, according to eMarketer.

Millions of consumers were pushed online for the first time to buy their groceries in 2020, and they are just beginning to see the benefits. From ordering ingredients for an entire meal to syncing your grocery list to your fitness tracker, the digital transformation of the food and beverage industry is just getting started.  This article discusses the changes in how shoppers get their groceries and how eCommerce technology is used to meet these trends head-on and provide a better customer experience.

Omnichannel Ecommerce for Supermarkets: The Trends of the Future

During COVID-19, millennials went online for their groceries and other consumer goods. In total, 4 out of 10 millennials purchase groceries online and get them delivered to their home, according to research by PYMNTS. Even after COVID-19 wanes, 78% of millennials plan to stand by their new purchasing habits: using digital and physical channels to receive their food and beverage products.

Millennials are purchasing groceries over multiple devices and channels. In 2022, smartphone users accessing a grocery app will exceed 30% of all smartphone users, according to Supermarket News. This flood of omnichannel shoppers is exposing many new areas where grocery retailers can outperform their rivals.

As shoppers get used to omnichannel retailing, where they get a unified experience across touchpoints, businesses will also need a flexible and future-proof eCommerce solution to meet their demands.

The Technology Behind the Supermarkets of the Future

A few technological trends are pushing supermarkets forward. As numerous parts are needed to make supermarkets omnichannel, service integrators must weave eCommerce tools together. These solutions include an eCommerce platform, a Product Information Management (PIM) system, and other connectors together to ensure a flexible and future-proof solution.

A service partner that can deliver an end-to-end solution will ensure key performance indicators are met. In particular, adopters will see increased conversions, automation of tasks, and a reduced time to market. It is about the sum of the parts more than just a PIM system integration. Companies across the food and beverage industry will need to consider wider factors to convert users. The crucial decision underlying the supermarkets of the future is which service integrator they choose and how they use this technology to build a better customer experience for shoppers.

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Supermarket Trends to Watch For

Meeting Quality Regulations

Food quality checks and food regulations hold a key stake in the future of food and beverage retailers. In the European Union, for instance, numerous controls exist for how food is processed, distributed, and sold. Foods are checked for hormones, chemical residues, proper labelling, overall hygiene, fulfilment of animal and plant health requirements, etc. Though it seems challenging, this kind of information is perfect for organising through a centralised database.

Growing Your Food & Beverage Ecommerce

Quality regulations are connected to the issue of scaling. What if you want to launch your food products or grocery eCommerce in multiple countries? This goal requires tracking a lot of information. If you want to scale, your team will face the challenge of trying to manage all of this information through Excel documents.

A combination of a PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) recipe database, a PIM system, and a flexible eCommerce platform can help you overcome issues with scaling. If a grocery retailer wants to open a new store, they face upfront costs, such as buying land and constructing a building. But, digital commerce eliminates these costs and that is where the industry is moving.

Food and Beverage Direct-to-Consumer (D2C)

In the past, food manufacturers didn’t care about what was happening online— distributors took care of that. But 2020 demonstrated that the potential upside of D2C is enormous. It’s part of a larger trend in D2C sales where the food and beverage industry was the fastest-growing sector between 2015 and 2019, according to a Digital Shelf Institute report. This rapid growth is fueled by a change in consumer shopping behaviours from physical stores to more convenient, cheaper, and subscription-based online offerings.

One key issue underlying D2C for supermarkets is GS1 compliance. GS1 rules form a business language that identifies and captures essential product information to improve efficiency, safety and visibility across channels. However, GS1 standards can add a lot of manual labour. This issue is increasingly bridged through eCommerce technology.

Building a Recipe Database: Follow My Diet & Build My Meal

Any company that serves food needs to track their ingredients and notify their customers in advance. Whether it is for a person on a vegan diet or a person with a severe nut allergy, it can lead to a bad or even a catastrophic customer experience.

The next step for the food industry is creating recipes out of their products. Millennials and Gen Zers are less savvy in the kitchen than previous generations and also are increasingly health-conscious. According to Supermarket Perimeter, 14% of younger consumers have used a meal kit (ingredients delivered for preparing a meal) in the last month. Both food labelling and recipe building create the perfect chance for shoppers to pre-select meals and ingredients online that fit their lifestyle.

A PIM system solves this problem by connecting companies in the food industry to a recipe database. All of the calculations and other parameters are covered, and the recipe explorer programme handles all the label printings, nutrition values, potential allergens, etc. In this case, the PIM system would also serve as a PLM system where you create a product, and the PIM system is where you market the product to outbound channels.

Providing a Personalised and Healthy Food Shopping Experience: “Hey Siri, sync my grocery list to my fitness app.”

Increasingly younger shoppers are buying groceries that relate to their overall well-being. Millennials and Gen Zers are more likely  (71% vs 44%) to eat foods with certain health benefits than older generations, according to FMI’s shopper report. Calorie counting and food tracking are also widespread. Food and beverage retailers can unify a shopper’s personal health with what should—or often shouldn’t—be on their grocery list. With technology, performing this feat isn’t difficult: The user makes a purchase, then they receive a graph with the calories that also syncs to a fitness tracker to see calories burned versus what calories ingested. As millennial shoppers expect an up-to-date feed on money spent and fat burned, this finding and using data that builds their loyalty to your company.

Telling a Story with Social Media Influencers

Influencers are becoming more important to the food industry. Whether Michelin chefs or famous athletes, influencers can attract new clients and promote in-store purchases. Imagine Gordon Ramsay saying, “You can make this meal in 20 minutes—just buy these 7 ingredients.” In the future, the food and beverage industry will consist of storytelling to excite and attract shoppers.

Let’s say Gordon Ramsey is releasing new recipes. As he markets them, you can build up everything around him in a separate entity and relate that to the product. The eCommerce platform will know that this is Gordon Ramsey and encourage the user to read more, and this information will also be in the PIM system. And the key point for a PIM system is that then you can use that information on other channels, such as Amazon. Without a PIM system, you would only be able to use the information on your eCommerce platform and lose the potential for an omnichannel shopping experience.

Key Takeaways

  1. Shoppers are increasingly researching and buying their groceries and fast-moving consumer goods through multiple channels.
  2. Ecommerce technology—a PIM system, eCommerce platform, and other valuable integrations— is the key to taking on omnichannel shoppers.
  3. A service provider that can put together the numerous parts of an eCommerce platform together is needed to ensure that grocery retailers can adjust to future developments with a scalable and flexible solution that fits their KPIs.
  4. Whether using social media influencers to access delicious meals or using an eCommerce site to access the latest deals to build their weekly meals, a personalised and unified customer experience is coming to a supermarket near you.

Your Food and Grocery Ecommerce Future

Vaimo works with the top eCommerce platforms and cutting-edge PIM systems. As a full-service omnichannel solution provider, our team is here to provide assistance that scales with your ambition.

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