The grocery store landscape has changed since the inception of the internet. By 2024, an estimated 70 percent of consumers will be taking their food shopping online. Grocery giants like Amazon, Peapod and FreshDirect are taking full advantage of the changing times. In 2017 alone, Amazon attained $2 billion in online food and beverage sales.
The question is: can independent grocers get a slice of the pie?
Yes, they can. Mercato explains how.
How does online grocery shopping work today?
Online grocery pioneers in the late 1990’s were not supermarkets or food merchants. Instead, early players like Webvan and HomeGrocer.com were technology companies. At the time, the idea of online grocery shopping was innovative, but the executed business model was problematic.
Companies stocked and built their own warehouses from scratch. Low margins and high startup costs ultimately led to their failures.
But by the mid to late 2000’s, online grocery shopping was on the rise. PeaPod and startups like InstaCart adopted a hybrid model that proved successful. In a mutually beneficial move, companies paired with grocers. The “you provide the groceries, I’ll provide the service” model circumvented costs and led to market domination. In the past five years alone, online grocery sales have more than tripled.
Why does the hybrid model work?
Today, all of the successful companies on the online grocery battlefield aren’t only tech titans.
Tracking shopping trends
By selling online, you can gather data that makes your company smarter and better equipped to meet consumer needs. Peapod, which is currently a $1 billion business, is spending more and more money each year on creating targeted advertisements through customer data.
While this can be a huge and costly undertaking for an individual store, online marketplaces like Mercato make this effortless. Customer trends can be easily tracked for your business and all across the board. With consumer profiles and dynamic inventory tracking, targeted ads, retention campaigns and Mercato-funded promo codes can be implemented to maximize business.
Ease of use
The numbers are in: about 68 percent of consumers in a recent survey by GlobalData agree that they prefer to shop online. The reality is that people are starved for time. Online shopping allows customers to avoid lines and shop at any hour of the day.
With Mercato, which pairs with independent grocers, specialty food stores, artisinal merchants and more, customers don’t have to sacrifice high-quality or specialty food for what’s closest or most convenient. Instead, they can buy groceries from brick and mortar stores without trekking to a store. Mercato offers food merchants the capability to easily get their inventory online, set up ordering functionality and take care of deliveries. Mercato’s existing inventory library makes it quick and easy for each store to get set up.
On top of that, buying in bulk becomes much easier. Customers don’t have to lug heavy groceries for blocks when groceries are delivered right to their door.
Customer base expansion
Fact: delivery provides convenience. Customers who would love your food (but just wish your business was a little closer) can have virtual access to all that you have to offer. Instead of grabbing prosciutto from the supermarket, they can order it from your specialty butcher store across town, straight to their door. Mercato can provide on-demand same-day delivery or next-day delivery on thousands of items including fish, meat, vegetables, sweets and more from hundreds of different merchants.
Establishing an online presence is also essential to reaching new customers. With social media, you can engage with potential shoppers and market your brand.
Partnerships are built
Partnering with a like-minded company produces great results and benefits all parties involved. Online marketplaces like Mercato know how important it is to keep community connections. With fully customizable display options, the customer’s online experience can mimic their in-store experience. Teaming up with Mercato also means that you can get all the benefits of online grocery shopping without the headaches.
Not only is Mercato teaming up with local merchants to provide the freshest foods in your area possible, they’re also providing delivery services that rival any other company and helping small businesses owners compete with grocery giants. Beat that, Amazon.