A recent study found that about 58% of online shoppers buy fashion products online and about 55% make online travel bookings. For online grocery shopping, it is only 24%.
Fashion products & traveling belong to leisure consumer product categories. In contrast to these, grocery shopping is a basic human need, then why does it lag so far behind?
The answer lies in the fact that the latter, although based on a similar business model, comes with certain challenges that are relatively non-existent with other product categories. There’s no doubt that the online grocery sector has huge future potential, but due to these unique challenges, running online grocery stores becomes much more difficult than running other eCommerce stores. This is why online grocery hasn’t enjoyed as much growth as other e-commerce sectors.
Here in this post, we will uncover these unique challenges associated with selling groceries online, and will also ideate on the possible solutions to these challenges.
Perishability of grocery items, especially fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat products is a major concern of all grocery shop owners, both offline and online. For other products, store owners don’t need special storage conditions, but for most grocery items, refrigerated storage facilities are a must.
The trouble with the perishable nature of the grocery products doesn’t end here. Apart from proper storage, online grocery store owners also need to assure that these items reach their destination as they are supposed to, fresh. To meet that goal, refrigerated delivery facilities are also needed.
With delivery, timing is yet another factor. While regular e-Commerce stores can deliver in 2-3 days to a week’s time, grocery stores don’t get to enjoy such privilege. The turnaround time for online grocers is very small; therefore, the importance of a reliable and delivery service partner is really high.
When it comes to grocery shopping, people tend to do bargaining more than other products, as they want their groceries to cost less. This issue, coupled with high storage & delivery cost, creates quite a challenge for online grocers, making their margins thinner than a strand of hair.
To cope up with this issue, online grocery shop owners have to come up with innovative revenue model ideas. One good example is Instacart’s premium services, under which consumers pay a lump sum and avail free delivery for a year. As the number of customers grows, the subscription fee covers for thin margins.
Another way to increase profit margins is to offer a prebuilt shopping basket. In this case, the online grocery shop owners offer a predefined grocery basket that contains regularly purchased grocery items. The price of such baskets can be set so that it becomes a win-win situation for the customers, as well as online grocery shop owners.
When buying electronics, apparel, and other similar items from an online store, product specifications, brand name, & manufacturers’ warranty is enough to assure customers of their quality. But such cannot be the case with grocery items.
The fact of the matter is that, when it comes to grocery shopping, people, by their very nature, tend to prefer physically inspecting the items before purchasing. This consequently, imposes a huge challenge on online grocery sellers.
However, this challenge can be curbed by mixing the online & offline shopping experience. For example, allowing customers to order online & and pick up their order on their way to the store; or, the customer checks the availability of grocery products online, & visits the store to purchase them; and so on.
To deliver such personalized facilities, you need to build your grocery store on a customizable platform. Unfortunately, there’s a lack of dedicated e-commerce platforms for grocery stores, which creates yet another challenge for entrepreneurs in this sector.
As clear from the discussion above, running an online grocery business already requires an array of extra efforts. Given the case, tweaking a standard e-commerce platform with multiple 3rd party plugins to create an ideal online grocery store shouldn’t be one of them.
In such a scenario, dedicated platforms like Growcer comes as a great aid in streamlining the process of setting up grocery selling website, allowing entrepreneurs to focus on their core business operations & work effectively towards enhancing customer experience & increasing revenue.