Grocery Stores and their Online Offerings Suck PDF Print E-mail
Written by Graydon   
Tuesday, 16 May 2006
The eon old grocery store has been struggling to re-invent themselves and squeeeeze some more money out of the razor thin margins.  Most have done it by specializing in particular markets  (i.e. Whole Foods and Trader Joe's ).  Some have attempted the online world and usually fail miserably.
But that could all change...
First, let's make the assumption that your store's regional market isn't one that cares about getting their food delivered to the house.
Now, we have to figure out what would make a consumer come to our store over the 3 - 5 others in her area?
Most people would say that price is the factor.  But I think that their are other factors at play.  Hell, I know there are other factors at play because I go to grocery stores and I would easily choose these items over price...
1.  Selection - I don't want to see the store brand and one other brand... because they probably aren't the ones I wanted.
2.  Selection - I don't care if you have the 3 oz and the 30 oz sizes... my recipe calls for the 15 oz size that all of the other stores carry.
3.  Layout - I want the peanut butter on the same isle as the jelly, which might as well be on the same isle as the bread.  Make the stuff make sense when I walk in and only need 1 item that I haven't bought in 2 months and can't remember which rock you put it under.
4. Layout - I don't give a rat's you know what if you are a "super" store... I'm here for groceries which means that the shampoo needs to be near the food... and not half a football field to the other side.
5. Layout - Come on now... where am I supposed to start here... If I go to the back, then my icecream melts on the way through the maze of isles to the front... If I start at the front, then the meat gets warm and we all know what happens when I get sick eating food I brought from you!  Layout the store so that it makes sense to get warm, dry stuff first, wet and cold last. 
6. Stock - I don't care about your problems and when the next truck is supposed to come in... if you don't have a simple thing like boneless chicken breasts when I come in... all the rest of the crap in my cart can just stay here.  You better figure out a way to track your stock and know when you might be out as well as when you are out of something... and fix it fast.
7.  Employees - When I ask an employee where something might be (because you haven't paid attention to above) then they had better know where it is or be able to find out within 1 minute... and then either walk me there or be damn sure that when they say it's on isle 10 next to the salsa... it's there and not on the other side of the ketchup.
8.  Employees - We all have our vices... some of your employees like to smoke and bitch about work.  Give them some other place besides 3 feet within an entrance or exit to do that.  Nobody wants to tell their kids to "hold your breath honey while we walk past these disgruntled chain-smoking associates".  Plus, it's just not good for business to hear them talk about how they put that thawed pizza back in the display case.
9.  Checkout - You have enough data collection going on... figure out your busiest times and staff accordingly.  Plus, go ahead and uphold the express lane limit... you can teach one person a lesson and make everyone behind them a dedicated customer.
10. Checkout - OJT for cashiers is normal... but when they go "on their own"... make sure they are ready and capable of handling it. 
Sorry, I got on a roll there...
Back to the online gig thing.  Because I might be able to withstand a lot of the above if you had this one simple thing...
Give me a website that I can go to and put in my shopping list.
Now, before you say "we already do that"... (because I'll call BS on most of you)... I want these functions...
1.  I want to enter in plain language descriptions (i.e. milk 2%, fruit bars, chicken, beef, baby food, diapers, spaghetti, ketchup, peanut butter, juice, toilet paper, laundry soap, dish pads, shredded wheat, coffee, ice cream, etc...)
2.  I want you to have a smart enough system that can figure out what I mean.
3.  I don't mind if for each / any item you ask for clarification (i.e. chicken - frozen or fresh) but make it easy.
4.   I want your system tied to my local store's layout... because...
5.  I want the list resorted so that it is in the same order that you have things layed out (because you didn't pay attention to above).
6.  I want you to tell me what coupons are available for the stuff I want and...
7.  Print out my shopping list with all coupon bar codes included.
8.  Finally, give me a rough estimate of how much I'm about to spend.  If you can be within 10% then I think it would be great. 
Why would you want to do this?
Because... except for a few times, when we come to the store, we know what we want, we want to get it fast and get the hell out of there and back to normal things... like cooking the food.
Now, here are some perks...
Do you have that online recipe selection?
Great, when I'm doing my shopping list, let me check out some recipes... If I see one I like, I'll click on it and all of the stuff that I need shows up in my SORTED shopping list.  That way, if I needed thyme... it shows up in order and I am less likely to forget it.
Have one of those fancy "make it yourself peanutbutter grinders"?  Cool, suggest that when I enter in peanutbutter on my list.  I may not select it for my list... but I may check it out while I'm there.
Don't want to use those stupid "customer cards" that give people the false sense of savings (i.e. 10% off something we jacked up 50% over everyone else)... then collect the data from the shopping lists.  You don't need personal data... just regional to figure out what's happening and take advantage of it. 
Also... if you enable some tracking of what people buy and use... you may be able to integrate into the "home of the future" systems where people bar code items at home... be the first to integrate because you have the kick ass features from above and you might just drive the standard. 
Need this all simplified for you?
Help your customers get back to doing what they want as fast as possible (which IS NOT waisting time in your store)... Do this, and I promise that we'll email others about how great you are. 
If you can't do it, I'm sure some of those brains from the defunct home delivery companies can figure it out... and they might partner with your competitor. 
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 16 May 2006 )
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