Online grocery sales hold opportunity for produce retailers - The Packer

Online grocery sales hold opportunity for produce retailers

08/22/2013 02:57:00 PM
Amelia Freidline

Amelia FreidlineTony Stallone (from left), president of merchandising and food safety for online grocer Peapod; Drew Schwartzhoff, director of sourcing marketing for Eden Prairie, Minn.-based C.H. Robinson Worldwide; and Bill Bishop, chief architect of Brick Meets Click, Barrington, Ill., answer audience questions during an Q&A after the Aug. 20 session on online retailing.CHICAGO — Digital marketing and mobile technology are changing the retail landscape, and grocery retailers need to take advantage of emerging trends to increase sales, become more efficient and stay relevant to consumers and their needs.

That was the takeaway from an Aug. 20 general session on online retailing at The Packer’s Midwest Produce Expo, which featured presentations from Bill Bishop, chief architect of Barrington-based Brick Meets Click and Willard Bishop Consulting; Drew Schwartzhoff, Eden Prairie, Minn.-based C.H. Robinson’s director of marketing and sourcing; and Tony Stallone, vice president of merchandising and food safety for Skokie-based online grocer Peapod, a subsidiary of Royal Ahold, Netherlands.

Bishop shared research from Brick Meets Click on how grocery retailers use digital platforms to connect with consumers.

“There’s a gap between good retailers’ presence online versus in-store,” Bishop said.

He said Facebook is a good way to alert shoppers to events and promotions and to get an idea of what they want from a retailer.

“It is a great way to sense and respond,” he said.

Social media platforms aren’t a replacement for a solid company website, however, and Bishop said retailers need to invest time in creating valuable content for consumers on their sites.

He also said one in 10 consumers uses a mobile device such as a smartphone, so having relevant content consumers can access on the go is crucial.

“I can’t tell you how important a small savings of time is when you can click a coupon or make a digital list,” Bishop said. “Once they get used to (using) it, they aren’t going back.”

He said the primary reason consumers use online retailers to buy groceries is because they can’t find what they’re looking for in the stores they shop at.

Changing the supply chain

Schwartzhoff shared insights from the supply chain and logistics side of C.H. Robinson’s operations and also research the company did about heavy consumers of produce.

“In most retail settings, depending on what you’re selling, the supply chain is changing really, really quickly,” he said.

While supply chains previously were linear and involved single-focused steps from producer to consumer, today’s global commerce, along with government regulations, the explosion of online retailing and the accompanying consumer buying behaviors have made the supply chain increasingly more complex.

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