[Video] 84.51° director of insight shares thoughts on e-commerce evolution from COVID to now

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags 84.51 Kroger omnichannel

Omnichannel experiences that mix in-person and digital shopping are increasingly important for brands and retailers to grow their businesses, as consumer behaviors shift due to economic factors like inflation, Alexandra Trott, director of insight for Kroger's 84.51°, told FoodNavigator-USA in an interview at the 2023 Digital Food and Beverage event.

This omnichannel space is going to continue to evolve. It's going to continue to grow, but it's also going to continue to change. There are macro factors that impact this grocery experience. So, my best advice to CPGs brands, individuals out there that work in this industry is to keep very close track of any and all the data you have at your fingertips because it's so important to understand what motivates your shopper and then how you can understand their experience better and then activate on it.​”

From COVID to now: How digital shopping behaviors are changing

Kroger has identified three macro trends around how consumer behaviors have changed in the recent years, Trott said. First, COVID pushed shopping to digital overnight, and after the pandemic, consumers embraced an omnichannel approach where they did a mix of in-person and digital shopping, she said. And now, consumers are faced with another challenge with higher grocery prices, she added.

As a result of that change and shift in fundamental grocery shopping behavior, we have seen a sustained omnichannel shopping behavior, which means customers prefer to shop both in store and online, and they're sort of blending them based on the occasion. Now as we move through 2023, we are faced with the question of how inflation impacts grocery shoppers, and that's something that we are tracking very closely, and that is a post COVID impact.​”

In response to inflation, consumers are “cutting back on non-essential items​” and are “unapologetically switching to a lower cost brand for their essential items and a lot of cases that means the corporate brand,​” Trott said. Additionally, consumers are looking at every avenue that they can to reduce their grocery bills, and Kroger has seen “a 92% increase in Kroger.com traffic on the coupons page,​” she added.

When you break that down and understand how does this impacts the digital shopping experience, these customers are looking for sales deals and coupons when they're concerned about inflation. That's the number one behavior that they have noted that they've changed since last year.​”

What are consumers putting in their baskets?

Consumers also are changing what they put in their baskets, Trott noted. Consumers, especially younger consumers, are placing snack items in their digital baskets, as they continue to replace meals with snacks and increase the occasions of snacking​, she added.

[84.51°] asked people what they're comfortable putting in their online basket, and overwhelmingly, it's these dry grocery items, these snack-time items - these items that you'd find in the center of the grocery store. Customers are very comfortable with purchase purchasing that online. When you ask them what they're not comfortable purchasing, it's produce, it's meat, it's deli, its dairies, and its fresh, there's a little bit less trust there when you're talking about the omnichannel shopper​.”

Though consumers are more likely to add dry grocery products and snacks into their digital cart, Trott sees an opportunity to build trust with consumers, so that feel more comfortable buying those items digitally, which can drive basket size and increase loyalty.

“There is an opportunity to influence and build trust and get shoppers to put the complete all of their complete needs in the shopping basket and order online. And when customers do do that, they actually are worth more in the overall basket, and they are spending more with individual brands, and they're highly loyal.​”

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