Pros and cons of offering online ordering for your independent grocery store


Nearly one-third of Americans currently shop online, and 70% of Americans plan on shopping online for essentials in the future. New trends in e-commerce are making their way to the grocery store business, and it’s making it more valuable than ever to add an online platform to your grocery store. If you are thinking about taking your grocery business to an online platform, you have to weigh what your business will gain, and what your business might lose. 

Understanding the challenges of putting your grocery store online is important. So what are the advantages and disadvantages? Here is a list of a few of pros and cons of adding online ordering to your grocery business.

Pro: It’s Where All Your New Customers Are

Putting your grocery store on an online platform has the potential to garner you thousands of new customers in your area. Many shoppers, especially those who are technologically savvy, are online shoppers. This is also true for those who buy groceries. Customers using online grocery delivery and pickup have tripled over the past nine months. Businesses using online platforms have quintupled their online sales over that period of time. 

The people in your community who rely exclusively on online grocery delivery for their shopping are now exposed to all your specialty items, freshest produce and meats, and prepared foods with an online platform, helping to expose your store to a new type of audience. With grocery eCommerce and delivery services like Mercato, customers use a mobile app and/or website where they can gain access to all your store’s best products right at their fingertips.

Con: Loss of Intimacy with Customers

Putting your grocery store on an online platform has the potential to lead to a loss of personal connection with your customers. After all, your store’s design, layout and flavor are all designed for the customers in your store. But with an online platform, you have a potential to lose out on these details, as your customer is not immersed in your store’s environment and dealing with the staff that you trained to be the best at fulfilling your customer’s in store needs. 

With Mercato, you can bring your in-store experience online by creating an online store that showcases all of your unique products, while maintaining your brand’s unique look and feel through customizable settings. 

Pro: Convenience for Your Loyal Customers

While using an online platform to acquire new customers is a great strategy for expanding your business, there’s also huge value in giving your loyal customers who consistently come into your store online ordering capabilities as well. With an online grocery store, you can give your customers the option to access all the best products they love online and then get those items delivered right to their door. This is a huge advantage for those customers that could be stuck at home or too busy to pick up their groceries in your store.

Con: Competition with Other Online Grocers

Although putting yourself online exposes you to a sea of new online customers, it also brings you into the competition of other grocers with their own online platforms. This competition can be tough, and it’s not made better by the grocery giants with online delivery services, including Stop and Shop (who use Peapod), Target (who use Instacart) and Whole Foods (who use Amazon Fresh). 

Although it might seem like a challenge to compete with these big names for their customers, adding an online platform for an independent grocery store with specialty products and high quality meats and produce allows customers to enjoy the convenience of shopping online, while still receiving high-quality ingredients.

Mercato was built by an independent grocer, specifically for independent grocers. We realized that with more and more customers looking to support local, independent grocers, there had to be an eCommerce platform specifically for them!

Pro: Increased Data for Targeted Marketing

An online presence is a perfect way to grow your business. While online, your store will attract not just online customers, but also increase in-person sales. Mercato also helps grocers understand their online customers on a deeper level by gaining insight into their customer’s data to learn how they can improve their store and their products. This data can be used to create more targeted marketing campaigns, allowing you  to increase your exposure and generate more sales. This is one of the best parts of the online grocery experience! 

eCommerce data can also be used to see customer demographics, including their location. This is a great way to see where your customers are located and may even help when deciding where to open another store location.  

Con: Dastardly Delivery Damage

A majority of online grocery delivery services use their own delivery couriers to pick out and fulfill customer orders. Trusting these couriers to choose the highest quality produce or meat may work for a big chain, but it’s not an ideal approach for an independent grocer. 

With Mercato, the grocer is tasked with fulfilling the customer’s order, ensuring they’re delivering the highest quality of products. This is a win-win for both the grocer and the customer! 

If you’d like to learn more about how to reap the pros of an online platform and how to turn those cons on their head, contact Mercato and see how you can double your online sales right away!

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