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Why Independents Need An Open Omnichannel Ecosystem


by Jim Dudlicek / NGA Director, Communications and External Affairs

How does an omnichannel ecosystem benefit the independent retailer? What should independents be considering when building out their e-commerce solution? How can you ensure a seamless customer experience across your digital offering?

To answer these and other questions about the robust e-commerce opportunities in grocery, NGA recently hosted a webinar moderated by Nick Nickitas, founder and CEO of Rosie, a solution provider for e-commerce, delivery opportunities, omnichannel marketing and data services to independent grocery operators. 

Other panelists included Mark Mahoney, director of operations, and Alexa Dash, director of e-commerce and marketing, at Dash’s Market in Western New York; Grant Lunde, digital marketing director at C&S Wholesale Grocers; and Robert Rybick, president and CEO of Geissler’s Supermarkets in New England.

Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:

Owning the experience. A one-size-fits-all digital strategy won’t satisfy independent retailers’ diverse needs. Grocers who utilize several third-party providers working in sync – the “omnichannel ecosystem” – enjoy greater flexibility and maintain control over the shopper experience.

Where’s the opportunity? Personal relationships with customers allow grocers to build a shopping experience around their needs. Due to their size, independents can select third-party providers and adapt with greater agility. Grocers can leverage experience gathered from rewards data and listening to shoppers in person or via social media. And rather than using historical planograms, grocers can drive sales and forecast trends by investing in advanced digital merchandising and analytics.

Leg up on the competition. From national supermarket chains to big-box retailers, grocery competitors are spending billions on their omnichannel infrastructures. Intuitive shopping apps, same-day fulfillment and contactless payments are just a few of the ways major players are enhancing their e-commerce offerings, so independents need all the leverage they can get.

All they see is your brand. Customers don’t care that their digital experience is brought to them by a multitude of providers. Shoppers expect a seamless experience, whether via mobile, online or in person.

Greater loyalty, bigger baskets. Businesses with omnichannel strategies see 91 percent higher year-over-year customer retention rates. And omnichannel customers spend 4 percent more in-store and 10 percent more online than single-channel customers.

We’re great at digital … or are we? Rosie offered data showing 60 percent of companies think they’re providing a good mobile experience, but only 22 percent of consumers feel the same. And 71 percent want a consistent experience across all channels, but only 29 percent say they actually get it.

Pros and cons of an omnichannel ecosystem. Retailers have total control and flexibility to choose their third-party solution providers, which can be selected to fit specific needs. However, a retailer only has so much control over the quality of service third-party providers deliver, so such an ecosystem demands excellent communication across all channels for the experience to be cohesive.

Final considerations: Decide which elements of the omnichannel experience require the support of partnerships. Consider how customers will use each channel and how well they integrate. Understand the cycle of communication and who will handle customer support issues.

To view this complete webinar, along with others in the series, visit nga.sclivelearningcenter.com/MVSite/default.aspx.

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