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Four Factors that Differentiate Online Grocery from Traditional Online Stores


As opposed to many other market segments online grocery is still in its infancy. The determining factor being that “simpler” product segments were still available for exploitation. In contrast online grocery comes with very specific requirements for retailers in this segment that are also reflected in their online stores.


#1 Delivery Time Selection
The delivery of fresh and refrigerated groceries is a complex task. Grocers are legally responsible to fully comply with food safety requirements when delivering online purchases as well. Thus it is crucial to ensure that products are handed over directly to the recipient – and not to a neighbor or the local post office where they are subject to spoilage. Grocers offering delivery of fresh and refrigerated products will thus usually provide their customers with the option to select a delivery time slot when they are actually able to receive the delivery in person. In other online retail segments this kind of service is rather an additional convenience than a necessary requirement.


#2 Large Count Carts with a Large Variety of Products
Reviewing the weekly grocery shopping in-store consumers are aware of the large number of many different products that may end up being purchased. Provided a customer takes his weekly grocery shopping online those numbers will be relevant as much for the online grocery store. While product counts in carts of other online retail segments are moderate online grocery stores will encounter 50 and more items per cart on a regular basis. This results in several ramifications: For one online systems are required to handle those large count orders. Additionally the online storefront has to be designed user-friendly – via sensible categorization, filter options and search functionality – to enable consumers to find the desired products quickly. Otherwise ordering the weekly grocery shopping list online could prove to be rather tedious and time consuming.


#3 Ordering Identical Products on a Regular Basis
Of course even grocery consumers follow their curiosity at times and try new products. However, the majority of the weekly grocery shopping list will be identical to the previous ones – a situation that hardly occurs in other product segment like fashion, electronics or books. Therefore shopping lists or previous order lists can provide valuable assistance for consumers. With these tools consumers don’t have to search for their favorite products each and every time but rather have to merely adjust existing lists. That saves precious time.


#4 Substitutions
In many product areas consumers have very specific ideas of which products they want to purchase precisely. Is this specific product not available they are mostly reluctant to switch to an alternative. Of course grocery customers also have their favorite products. However, the threshold to switch to a different product is usually not quite as high when grocery shopping. Thus suggesting substitutions during the online order process is an essential functionality of any grocery online store.

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Hanna Purschke

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