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How online grocers can be successful during the holiday season

Grocery brands that can augment in-store sales with an effective online strategy will be the most successful this holiday season.

How online grocers can be successful during the holiday season
[StockPhotoPro / Adobe Stock]

The pandemic has forced huge global changes across almost all business sectors. Many of those changes have been negative, such as healthcare product shortages, backed-up supply chains, and an ongoing reluctance to travel. But some positive changes do stand out. Air quality improved in many parts of the world. Remote work has become the norm. And, online shopping has exploded. Grocery products saw the fastest acceleration in online shopping, especially during the holiday season. The 2020 holiday season delivered a 404% increase in online shopping due to this new consumer behavior. Average order values remained flat in holiday 2020 according to the data, so the large increase was due to more consumers coming online.

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Online searches for food delivery applications is a great indicator of how consumers are planning to shop in the coming holiday season. Searches for food delivery apps were up 200% during holiday 2020 when compared to holiday 2019. Search volume for food delivery apps in October 2021 is already up 22% compared to October 2020, indicating the trend of coming online for grocery shopping will continue outside of quarantines.

Based on a study my company conducted, 50% of those surveyed stated they do more online shopping than they did prior to the pandemic. This creates an opportunity for grocers and grocery brands to capitalize on the e-commerce boom that’s already occurred in many other verticals. How successful they are will depend on their ability to stay stocked online, deliver quality products on time, and attract customers to their brands over the competition.

According to data from Statista, online grocery sales are expected to grow $17.1 billion in 2021, up from $95.8 billion in 2020, and this trend is expected to continue. For grocery brands to profit from this change in consumer behavior and grow their online revenue, they either need to build an effective DTC solution or partner with Amazon, Walmart, Instacart, or other major online retailers.

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CPGs have to ensure their brand is differentiated in its marketing and positioning through online content, influencer marketing, digital advertising, and branding; otherwise, they may go stale on the digital shelf. Consumers today are also looking to connect with brands that align with their values and beliefs, which often means taking a stand on important cultural issues, such as climate change, and communicating a brand’s stance on the issue and any actions being taken. These actions help brands stand out among competitors, offer value-added options for consumers, and increase brand loyalty.

In addition to those suggestions, here are five more things online grocers need to do to be successful during the 2021 holiday season:

1. Keep high-selling items in stock online.

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2. Reduce friction in the buying process through innovations such as social selling.

3. Embrace different customer journeys, including those that are all online, all offline, or a hybrid.

4. Research competitor offerings to understand what other options are available to consumers in order to match or outdo them.

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5. Commit to customer satisfaction—the experience your customers have today will impact the rating, reviews, and sales of tomorrow.

This is how brands will gain market share and become the go-to options for their customers.

While hopefully the world will continue to heal from the devastation of the pandemic, many of the business changes are expected to remain, and the growth in online grocery shopping is no exception (particularly during the holiday season). Simply put, grocery brands that can augment in-store sales with an effective online strategy will be the most successful during the holidays this year and in the years to come.

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Jessica Thorpe is President of gen.video – influencer marketing platform. Shining a light on the convergence of social media, advertising & commerce.

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