Shoppers today no longer simply go to the nearest store; they grab the nearest digital device. The online retail ecosystem is fast evolving.
And it’s not just purchasing habits that are going digital: the whole retail experience is changing.
Australian shoppers are incorporating digital touch points along the entire journey to purchase, from reviewing products online at home, to using smartphones as personal shopping assistants in the store.
Almost every online Australian has made an online purchase at some point (96%), 7% above the global average. The most prevalent categories where nearly two thirds of Australians regularly make purchases online include fashion, books, music and travel.
Consumers are interacting with brands across both digital and physical channels, and increasingly, they don’t make a distinction between the two. That means retailers need to think similarly and create seamless online and offline consumer experiences.
Today’s winning brands and retailers use a combination of on and offline strategies to not only help consumers make more informed decisions, but to also add value throughout the entire shopping experience—wherever and whenever that happens to be.
Consumers, however, are not purchasing consumables online with as much fervour as other products. Only about 1 in 5 online Australian respondents say they’ve bought fresh groceries (18%) or wine and alcoholic beverages (18%) online.
To better understand consumers and understand their preference for in-store grocery shopping, Nielsen’s 2016 Global Connected Commerce Report investigated key digital motivators and barriers to online grocery shopping.
Less than 1 in 5 Australians say the best grocery deals are found online, only 1 in 3 say online grocery shopping is a time saver and 1 in 10 say the quality of groceries are better found in-store.
Busy consumers want to minimise time spent on errands, and grocery shopping is no exception.
Accordingly, convenience represents one of the most basic and energetic areas of innovation for retailers. Some are offering a drive-through service with spacious collection points, allowing shoppers to collect pre-ordered baskets without leaving their cars. Others are testing click-and collect services that deliver groceries to temperature-controlled lockers available for pick-up at designated locations such as train stations and airports.
But convenience isn’t just about delivery. It’s about the complete order process. How much time do shoppers need to find items, to build a basket, to sign in/check out? How long do consumers have to wait for the items to be ready?
Retailers need to look for ways to optimise the entire purchase process, which could include subscription-based models where products are delivered to consumers’ doors on a regular schedule.
The inability to inspect goods poses one of the biggest barriers for consumable categories. Nearly 3 in 5 online Australian respondents in the survey (60%) agree or strongly agree that they prefer to examine products personally.
The desire to inspect goods is undoubtedly tied to uncertainty about product quality and freshness. More than 3 in 5 online respondents in the survey say concerns about product freshness (60%) and overall quality (52%) are barriers to online shopping.
The five senses are hard to replicate in a virtual environment.
This is especially important when it comes to fruits and vegetables, as consumers like to see, feel and smell the produce, or for meat, fish and poultry, where shoppers want to investigate the best cut in person. As such, transparency and shopper education is necessary to show the origins of and transportation methods for seasonal produce and locally-grown/raised products.
Savvy retailers are including free shipping for first-time users, double points for loyalty program members or online/mobile exclusive offers. The latter two options may be particularly useful for physical retailers trying to grow their online business. Regardless of the incentive used, keep in mind that unsatisfied customers are not likely to return. Matching or exceeding shopper expectations is a sure way to win repeat business.
A fair, satisfaction-guaranteed returns policy is another important way retailers can address quality concerns. More than half of online respondents in the survey (57%) say they’re concerned the groceries they receive will not accurately match what they ordered.
Delivery is also an important sticking point for consumers. 51% of online Australians are concerned about deliveries arriving when they’re not at home. Reengineering fulfilment processes to better meet the needs of online shoppers who find it inconvenient to wait at home during broad delivery windows can address this issue.
To overcome online barriers of physical inspection and doubts about quality and accuracy, online strategies should emphasise differential advantages, such as convenience, assortment and value.
Find out more in the Nielsen 2016 Global Connected Commerce Report.