Columnist, freelance writer, poet. With more than a half-century behind me, I've learned a lot through trial and error.
Who Would Use Online Grocery and Delivery Services?
Pregnant women, people with illnesses, the elderly, people recovering from surgery, reclusive people, people in a hurry, people with children, tired people, people who don't like grocery shopping, hungry people, people who have no transportation, and others would all benefit from online grocery stores in their areas. An app to shop for groceries online would be a welcome bonus to customers and would most likely increase sales. These services are offered at Hy-Vee Grocery Stores, for example.
However, Hy-Vee may not be advertising the availability of these services enough, as I can't remember ever seeing a commercial about it. In addition, many elderly people don't have internet services. Maybe in the future, somebody will invent a hand-held device somewhat like a tablet but specifically designed for each individual store with everything the online store has on it. Perhaps the store can strike a deal with internet providers so the device would be profitable for both without costing the customer any money for the service. Somebody might even figure out a way to link websites such as Pinterest and Allrecipes to the online grocery store so that customers can clip recipes and add the ingredients directly to their grocery cart.
Catering to the customer is no longer the wave of the future. It's happening now. Take the time to jump on the bandwagon.
Understanding How Illnesses and Injuries Affect Sales
My daughter, Melissa, recently had surgery on her foot. She had to have an extra bone removed, and she can't walk on it. She wears an orthopedic boot to help protect her against additional injuries. However, it does little to help when she loses her balance while hopping around to get something. In addition, she has three children. Her eight-year-old and ten-year-old boys have autism. Due to the effect this disorder has on them, neither boy comprehends commands or danger; however, they have few problems escaping restraints. This combination makes shopping with them difficult, to say the least.
In fact, this grandma learned precisely what that meant during a shopping trip to Target I brought them on. After I had a few items in my cart, the little one took off on me. I had to drag the older one by the hand all around the store, trying to catch the little one. When I was about 500 feet from him, he ran right out the doors. I was sure he would get hit by a car as he has no comprehension of danger whatsoever. Luckily, a store employee caught him for me and brought him back inside. Needless to say, I left the store without purchasing a thing. There was no way I was going to try to make it back to my cart.
Imagine what a trip to the grocery store would be like for my daughter with the injury to her foot and three children to keep in line. My daughter's youngest child is only two years old, and picking her up could cause my daughter to rip her stitches. As you can imagine, with all that going on, the prospect of starving to death can be a little more appealing than the thought of going to the grocery store. However, she didn't have the option of going to the grocery store because she couldn't get around. She called everybody she knew that lived nearby, but nobody could help her. I live two and a half hours away, and I don't have a car, so I couldn't help her either. What could we do?
Personal Grocery Shoppers for Pick-up and Delivery Services Makes Getting Necessities Possible
When my daughter called me to let me know that she needed groceries and she had no way to get them, naturally, I wanted to do anything I could. The month before, I learned about Hy-Vee's online grocery store, and I ordered my groceries online. My house was outside the delivery area, so I had to get a ride to pick them up, but at least the person who drove me didn't have to wait for me to shop. When we arrived at the store, I called a number, and my personal shopper brought my groceries out to me. The part I really loved was that they did all this with no additional charge to me. I ordered everything I needed and more. Usually, my friend drives me to the store, and I rush around trying to get everything I need in a hurry.
Even when I bring a list, I manage to forget something. In addition, I keep my list short so that I don't hold him up too long. With this in mind, I figured I would go online and find a grocery store near her that I could order from online, and then I would have them deliver the groceries I ordered to her. She lives in an urban area, so I thought I would have no problem finding a store that offered these services. However, I called every grocery store in her area, and not one of them did. I tried to find an errand runner in her area also, but I had no luck. When it comes to most grocery stores, customer service has a lot of catching up to do.
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Online Features of Convenience That Increase Sales
One of my favorite features on Hy-Vee's website includes digital coupons and a promo code or additional coupon code box where you can enter any coupons you might have at home. I also love that there is a page that shows what deals they have going on that week. Another awesome page contains recipes with a list of the ingredients you need to prepare the food. People clip recipes from websites such as Pinterest and Allrecipes. And they could easily open a tab to the online grocery store and order the ingredients they need from the recipes they pick. Ordering online simplifies the whole family dinner night menu.
In addition, people can check their cabinets and refrigerator while they are ordering to see if they need something or if they already have it. Another thing I love is that all the departments are separated, so it's easy to find what you need, and of course, the search box is available to move things along quickly. You could even order your prescriptions through the online store. When I ordered online, I spent about one hundred dollars more than I would have if I had gone into the store. I was happy not to have to worry about getting to the store for a while, and the store made more money off of me. Win-win.
Providing the Freshest Fruits, Vegetables, and Meats Helps Retain Online Customers
Many people are wary of ordering groceries online because they worry that their food won't be as fresh as it would be if they went into the store and picked it up themselves. Therefore, it's important to make sure online customers receive the freshest food available. In order to keep customers excited about online services, they need to be happy about the products they receive, and wilted or outdated food will turn them away from allowing someone else to collect it for them.
Advertising and Marketing to Reach Potential Customers
After the completion of your store's website and application, let people know that it's up and running. Have the cashiers hand a flyer to every customer with a large coupon for first-time users discounting an item every family has to have. Make sure the cashiers mention the savings. Send these coupon flyers to every household in the delivery area and to all households within a 25 or 30-mile radius outside the delivery area. Offer a different coupon for people who download the app. Emphasize the free personal shopper and delivery service on the advertisement pages of church bulletins for people within the delivery area. Ask non-competing local business owners, such as daycare centers, clinics, and gyms, to place a flyer on their bulletin boards. These flyers should emphasize the free personal shopper and pick-up service available. Offer one free item on a recipe list if all the other items are purchased. If you build it, they will click.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 11, 2017:
Online shopping is easier in so many ways, and really it is grocery shoppers that need it the most. Your article is a call for grocers to get with the times, as you rightly suggest, and if a vote is called, I second the motion. Great idea.
H Lax (author) on March 07, 2017:
Thanks for reading, Billy. Seriously, these grocery stores need to get with the times. Everybody else lets you order online and most deliver. Grocery shopping is no fun when you fit into any of those categories I listed.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 07, 2017:
I'm glad you began with customer service. I've owned two retail businesses and I believe customer service to be the number one priority of any business.