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What firms can study from grocery store pandemic playbooks

30, 2020

6 min read

The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.

Companies across the board are struggling to meet the new requirements of Covid. Increasing sales while reducing operating costs is no easy task. However, the country's nearly 40,000 grocery stores, classified as a must-have service during the pandemic, had to adjust quickly with no downtime.

Before the pandemic, only about 3 to 4 percent of food spending in the U.S. was online, but it's 10 to 15 percent, according to a study by consulting firm Bain & Company. And in some cases it's much bigger.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, our customers saw an average increase in online grocery sales of 300 percent compared to the same period last year. Some of our customers have successfully handled much larger online sales spikes. For example, a single-location gourmet market in Brooklyn, New York, rose from $ 53,000 to $ 388,000 per week at the height of the pandemic, ”said Dan Dashevsky, COO of My Cloud Grocer, an e-commerce software platform for supermarket chains. The company offers a robust, customizable virtual storefront with a white label platform that supports and integrates the entire shopping experience.

As the current pandemic is dramatically changing the retail landscape around the world, smart grocers are deploying technology to increase their sales while protecting their customers. Let's look at the technology and tactics companies are using to not only stay afloat in these troubled times but also to thrive.

Customer needs and their experience must come first

The customer experience should always be the driving force that determines how a website works or what policies a company will enforce, but unfortunately. this is not always the case. During the pandemic, customers have complained that they had to wait days or even weeks to receive food deliveries – not an ideal scenario when supplies are low and demand is greater.

“Many online grocery platforms only display available delivery times at the checkout after customers have spent 20 to 40 minutes filling their shopping carts with products. This adds to the frustration for customers when they find they cannot get their groceries in a timely manner and at the top of which they have wasted their time too, ”says Dashevsky. "We have made sure that the available delivery and pick-up times are displayed on our customers' platforms as soon as the buyer places the first item in their shopping cart."

Fred Schonfeld, CEO of Grand and Essex added, “Our goals were simple: What is the best way to help the community, both physically and mentally, during these unfamiliar and frightening times? We've stretched ourselves physically and financially to take two to three times the amount of online orders every day. In doing so, we have put all kinds of disinfection and safety precautions in place to feed and reassure those who enter the store as well as those who place orders online with us at the same time Leaving car. "

Related Topics: What Every Entrepreneur Needs To Get The Customer Experience Right

Service to the community creates loyalty

Going beyond that has always been the name of the game. In times of need, it is even more important to bring people together and find solutions in every possible way. When companies act with this mindset, customers not only become aware, but also remember that they create loyal customers over many years.

"In a time of uncertainty and uncharted territory where customer service is our core foundation, we knew these values ​​would lead us in the right direction if we remained true to our fundamental goal of serving the community" says Schönfeld. We kept our ears to the ground to find out which families needed emotional comfort and sent meals to those whose family members had contracted the virus, as well as to those who had sadly lost family members to Covid but could not be surrounded by them beloved at that time. When we learned of 120 college children who had to stay in their dormitories for a weekend, we took the opportunity to send them food as well. And even as our costs increased, we developed solutions to creatively spread these costs across the company and avoid hitting customers with large price spikes. "

Related Topics: 4 Benefits of Using Your Business to Serve a Broader Community

Adaptability can make or break business

The ability to respond quickly to consumer needs and adapt to new conditions can be the determining factor in whether a business thrives or collapses. We saw examples of this every day during these troubled times and many companies are struggling to survive the pandemic.

"While we were providing our customers with highly efficient fulfillment and delivery software even before the pandemic began, the Covid situation meant we had to quickly create and deploy several new functions to enable contactless delivery and tips for personal buyers and drivers." says Yehuda Vernik, CTO of My Cloud Grocer.

Breadberry, an upscale Brooklyn kosher supermarket, focused on gourmet catering to help weather the storm. "During the pandemic, we were able to offer ready meals to our customers when restaurants were forced to close what was not considered essential," said Sam Gluck, CEO of Breadberry. “The customers poured in and used our practical online ordering system. We had carefully built up over a long period of time while we were internally in the backend, we were ready and experienced to deal with the increased demand. Our digital team, working remotely, made it known and we went from being a major local supermarket to a cross-city vendor spanning multiple zip codes pretty quickly. "

Seasons Kosher's vice president of operations, Mayer Gold, said the surge in the e-commerce business is unlike anything that has ever been seen. “There has always been an appetite for e-commerce, although we never saw anything like demand in March or April,” says Gold. “Thanks to years of experience in this area, we were able to concentrate on where our customers wanted. It was interesting to see how users of our website kept coming back for the first time to order their groceries straight from their home. They were happy with the experience even as the cases of Covid around our stores wore off. "

Millions of customers turned to shopping for groceries online for the first time when the outbreak turned into a pandemic. After many customers experience the convenience and ease of online shopping, they can choose to remain digital customers in the future, which is changing the retail landscape forever.

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