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Pivoting grocery retail to an online business model: the booming trend

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Believe it or not, grocery retail is a global leviathan of a business worth more than a whopping $11 trillion globally. And the online share of that is booming. In 2020 alone, the percentage of online grocery sales exploded by 10.2%, equalling an annual revenue of over $106 billion, according to a study by Mercatus, tripling the total revenues of $34.4 billion in 2019.

Of course, the pandemic had a lot to do with influencing the market, but, according to the same online grocery retail study by Mercatus, the number will grow to $205 billion by 2025. You might argue what it has to do with custom mobile applications development; it’s just a business taking itself online as all brick-and-mortar stores do.

But, if you look closely enough, you may see that it is not only the grocery stores that have developed themselves a mobile app for grocery retail.  Many other businesses that were previously in a different niche altogether are rushing to mold themselves into virtual stores. The reason is there’s a good buck in it.

Grocery Retail as an Online Business Model

Uber turning into Uber Eats might be a natural extension of the droves of data these giants have collected on their ridesharing clients. Still, Uber or other companies trying to convince you that they can also sniff the melons for you is something altogether different. So, if we’ve changed your mind about looking into this trend and want this conversation to turn into a ‘how to create an app step by step’ article, here it is. Let’s start with some facts on what, where, and how, and a few significant digits before we discuss the requirements of developing such an app.

Let’s recall how the overall Food & Beverage eCommerce sales have skyrocketed so far in the past few years. With people increasingly becoming comfortable shopping via apps, ordering groceries online aligned with global growth in online shopping is natural. This is a healthy and growing trend.

How Did We Get Here?

Aside from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is also true that the grocery market had been in the middle of digitizing, and there was a serious reshuffling in the market shares between companies that excelled at implementing the newest technologies coupled with better customer service and those who didn’t. With razor-thin margins in the grocery business, those with the technological edge decided it was way past time not to hang around the break-even point and cut the costs to raise some serious money.

Another trend that helped was that the grocery mobile app better positioned those with brand loyalty to remind customers of your store. This serves to stick to the brand customers liked, not only when they run out of groceries. This heavily favored leading grocers like Walmart, Aldi, Kroger, who have already cashed out on this via higher sales using the grocery shop app.  And no, this trend is not limited to consistent products from one piece to another like electronic.

The Question is What Features to Include in a Grocery Retail App?

Like it or not, there are plenty of innovative features that can make or break your grocery retail mobile app. Let’s discuss some of them.

Authentic Shopping Experience

It is true that with changing user habits, as many as 32% of grocery app users prefer to purchase groceries online. You must design a grocery app with an authentic feel of shopping at an actual grocery store. At the bare minimum, it should:
• Be able to add products to the virtual shopping cart
• Provide rich 3D images of actual grocery products
• Browse products by categories
• Allow for a simple toggling between digital & physical shopping
• Offer digital coupons and other perks

Understand that any customer would appreciate a good deal. A whopping 50% of Americans purchase the most prominently presented goods & look for discounts. At heart, Americans still wish to make sure that the money spent by them won’t get wasted. No matter how affluent, it’s always the desire of an American shopper to save money. So, cash on users’ desire to use coupons and save by allowing your app to offer the same. Understand that the discounts are there to make your customers feel financially savvy, but the main reason is to make a statement to users that they are getting a special deal.

Personalized Customer Experience

Again, this is the bare minimum, like the above features we listed. You must pay special attention that ensures that customers have their favorite products and brands available. Allowing your customer on their grocery app to save their favorites from their purchase history to enable reordering is the bare minimum.

Push Notifications

The push notifications do wonders in making customers stay loyal to your grocery retail app. Just like people love to browse through Sunday paper coupons, it is vital to keep them engaged by making frequent push notifications. It is much more than keeping the users informed about new offers, discounts, products, and valuable tips to shop; it is all about keeping them engaged. Engagement tricks such as cashback and rewards would also work.

In conclusion, if you can emulate as much of the real-life shopping experience in online grocery retail and add amenities to it, the better.  It is critical to understand that food is more than just the taste and quality, it is also an experience of going someplace to get it and if you wish to replace it with an app, the experience part must be compensated.

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