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Ecommerce Update: Enhancing online purchases

BP ecommerce update

There’s no question online grocery shopping is now mainstream, but the future may not be smooth sailing.

Whole Foods Market veteran Edmund LaMacchia told Organic Produce Summit attendees in July that to be successful at online grocery, “retailers will have to be strategic, with a more curated selection for shoppers.”

Part of the equation is for platforms to provide more customized baskets, offering items more tied to a customer’s past purchases and dietary preferences. Misfits Market is doing just that: in July, the egrocer began automatically populating grocery carts for customers on their weekly grocery plan.

While items are based on order history, the feature suggests new item pairings and shoppers can easily edit prefilled items and indicate preferences on what they like or don’t like, enabling the app to further refine its suggestions.

Bob Morales, principal and produce team leader for Chicago, IL-based Information Resources, Inc. (IRI), believes fresh food retailers need to create an online experience that is closer to the brick-and-mortar experience, and to encourage more impulse purchases like meal preparation ideas.

Retailers can cross-market fresh items online by pairing meat or proteins with fruit and vegetable options for a total meal solution.

Experts at IRI encourage engagement with consumers in a different way through digital media like TikTok. Retailers can use social media and influencers to enhance sales by providing recipe ideas and fresh ways to include fruits and vegetables in meal preparation.

Jonna Parker, principal and fresh foods team lead at IRI, put it simply at a recent International Fresh Produce Association town hall webinar, “If we got one more produce purchase on each order, the sales would be astronomical.”

Here to Stay

Experts all agree that ecommerce grocery is here to stay and will continue to grow, provided retailers become more strategic in marketing and the technology enables more customization.

“The way we communicate with customers, the way we message, has to be catered toward this channel, toward what they’re actually interested in,” says LaMacchia.

Profiling and loyalty programs are key. “If we don’t do these things,” he adds, “the online marketplace could absolutely be commoditized and become a price marketplace and cost us sales.”

This is an excerpt from the Applied Technology department in the November/December 2022 issue of Produce Blueprints Magazine. Click here to read the whole issue.