Posted15 December 2021

The pandemic has both accelerated and halted various plans in the grocery pipeline. E-commerce has boomed. What started as a temporary preference for shopping online has, to an extent, cemented shopping habits that will likely remain for years to come. We know 80% of grocery sales in 2020 still took place in a physical store. Whilst e-commerce grows, investment in bricks & mortar stores has by no means halted. And currently, total UK online retail sales are falling back month on month, as well as year on year, as shoppers return to stores in 2021 (ONS). While things may continue to be in a state of flux until after the coming winter, these are comforting statistics for bricks & mortar stores.

More than ever, digital and physical are increasingly linked, with digital experiences happening in-store and the support shoppers receive in-store being found online. Of course, online is no longer limited to the grocer’s website. Walking down the aisles in-store, consumers are interacting with platforms on their mobiles, and the likes of social media have become part of the connected journey consumers are now taking every day. As shopping becomes truly omnichannel, it’s increasingly important to consider better connecting the two.

Of shoppers making an online purchase in Q1 2021, seven out of 10 returned and bought again within the same quarter, up from five out of 10 in Q1 2020, Symphony RetailAI said. Its data also showed that if online customers return to the channel seven times in the first three months, they are three times more likely to become a long-term engaged customer. The online grocery trend should be seen as a win-win omnichannel scenario, not a matter of ‘bricks versus clicks.

As more consumers seek convenience in a post-pandemic retail environment, grocers can broaden their online offerings in non-foods and promote a one-stop shopping experience, realizing up to 1.8% sales growth from low-penetration, in-store categories, according to Symphony RetailAI’s research.

Based on these insights, the recommendation from Chris Koziol, CEO of Symphony RetailAI, is to focus on the complete customer lifecycle and buying journey with an emphasis on driving repeat purchases to build long-term engagement.

Dan, Director of Grocery Retail at Connect Search commented on demand to lead eCommerce in the grocery retail sector. “As a reflection of continued changing customer trends Connect Search have seen a big uptick in demand for talent to lead eCommerce operations across the globe. The investment in Omni-channel services has been enormous and the market shows no signs of slowing”.