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How and why grocery shoppers rely on consumer opinions in-store and online to make purchases

Bazaarvoice releases today ‘Appetite for information’, a new e-book that looks at the changing nature of the grocery shopping industry, and the increasing reliance of shoppers on online and in-store opinion formers.

Based on Bazaarvoice’s latest research on trends and consumer insights, the daily proliferation of online shopping options that consumers are presented with has led to a wholescale industry change. Click and pick e-commerce, food delivery services and more, have led to convenience trumping tradition. In a world where a growing numberof customers now check their smartphones while in store and browse consumer-generated content (CGC), such as product ratings reviews and Q&As, but alsovisual CGC, like product photos and videos, grocers need to evolve and react to demands that blur the lines between online and offline shopper journeys.

The key takeaways for grocery retailers include:

Why in-store sales are driven by online engagement

Today’s consumers are smarter and more discerning than ever when shopping for groceries. In fact,   82% of consumers use their smartphones to research items in the aisle each time they go to the grocery store, while 38% of new grocery purchases begin with online research. This has reshaped how consumers shop Not only is this pre-purchase research influencing in-store purchases, but it is and the information they expect grocery retailers to provide about their stores, products, and delivery services.

How UK grocer Waitrose brought their digital strategies in-store 

A true testament to how in-store sales are driven by online engagement and can impact a grocer’s revenue is British supermarket chain Waitrose, who has been seeing positive engagement and conversion lifts through its online channels. With 95% of their revenue still being generated in-store, they were looking to capitalise even more by bringing their digital efforts in-store.

Thanks to consumer ratings and reviews, Waitrose can see that their highest rated products were also their best performers online. Waitrose launched a nationwide “As Loved by You” campaign to echo this effect in-store and amplify the impact of CGC where the bulk of their shoppers is buying. The results were impressive, with the campaign being Waitrose’s single most successful in-store campaign of 2015, and subsequently becoming a marketing focus for multiple campaigns in 2016, influencing their web, print ads, and email strategy. By showcasing their best products as rated by real consumers, Waitrose was able to give in-store consumers the confidence to purchase, whether it was new products, establish brands, or their own private label. 

The future of grocery retail is online and growing fast

The grocery path to purchase is now a blend of physical and digital touch points, as the divide between online and offline experiences is dissolving, and brands need to respond. This means that grocery retailers, as well as food and beverage brands, have to focus on two digital strategies: deploy tactics to win the in-aisle shopper today, and feed the info-hungry consumer of tomorrow.

It is no longer a question if, but only a matter of when, e-commerce offerings become table stakes for all grocery retailers. The future of grocery retail is online and growing fast, with online grocery sales growing 157% from 2015 to 2016, and an expected 50% growth of food and beverage sales that will come from e-commerce by 2018.

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