Online grocery stores are steadily gaining traction, given the daily work schedules and the resulting lack of time for the common man. The field holds great potential provided you go about creating your website in the right way. At this stage, where you are sure about setting up an online grocery store, there are a few things you should keep in mind, before building it.
Here’s the list!
#1 Choosing a Strong Website Platform
The very first thing to do is choose an appropriate working platform. A robust, multi-faceted, flexible platform can not only satisfy your current store requirements, but also provide scope for future expansions. This is especially important for grocery stores, since there can be significant changes in product provision over a period of time, and in such cases, shifting the entire store is not a financially viable option.
#2 Deciding the Area of Operation
The area of operation constitutes the locations your store will be catering to. This depends on several factors such as the demographics of the region, the consumer preferences in the area, and an idea of the competition you will be facing. The area of operation could be anything from your immediate neighbourhood to the entire city. However, it is a good idea to narrow down on locations that you can definitely provide services in.
Given the perishable nature of groceries, a minimum delivery-time module needs to be implemented, which in turn is dependent on your delivery services budget. The optimal solution here can be to cater to a limited area at the initial stage and then later expanding across other localities as your revenue grows.
#3 Planning the Delivery Module
Building on the premise mentioned above, a strong delivery module is necessary to keep your delivery expenses in check. Optimize the number of people you employ, their travel reimbursements, and the delivery routes and timings, so as to avoid repeated excursions to the same locations. Having mapped routes, you can proceed to assigning areas and tracking your delivery employees.
#4 Creating an Affiliate Supplier Network
Prior to advertising and selling products on your website, it is necessary to get in touch with the local vendors and create an affiliate grocer network. Together, these wholesale shops will constitute of your supply channel, providing groceries as necessary.
There are generally two different affiliate models incorporated by online grocery store; the first is the ‘just-in-time’ model where the order is collected from the retail vendor and sent to the customer, and the second is the ‘inventory’ model where the products are purchased directly from the manufacturers and then sold to the online shoppers. For both these systems, a robust grocer network is necessary to minimize delivery times and ensure customer satisfaction.
#5 Identifying the Unique Selling Point
To successfully run an online grocery store, you cannot just be another name in the milieu of the dozens of online grocery stores available; it is necessary to create a unique selling point for your store that makes people sit up and take notice. Once the basic idea is in place, you can expand and improve on it to ensure that it sets your store apart from the others.
This can be anything from a user-friendly interface to offering discounts and gift coupons on large purchases. Free home deliveries, store credit coupons, special offers for regular customers, indigenous products, etc. are some of the ways of generating customer loyalty. A unique referral point helps build your brand and provides a focal point for your store to grow.
#6 Marketing and Advertising
The backbone of any successful online store is a strong marketing strategy. Now that you have identified what the focal points of your store are going to be, build a marketing and advertisement agenda that highlights them. Reach out to potential customers with subtle hints as to how your online grocery store can be helpful for them. The various media platforms, like email or social media, can also be used for promotion, depending on the capital available.
#7 Incorporating Varied Payment Systems
Given the fact that there will be no fixed, physical location for your customers to pay at, efficient payments systems become an important deal. Incorporating multiple payment modules such as Credit/Debit cards, Cash on Delivery, etc. let customers choose their preferred payment method. Online payment provisions consequentially entail the implementation of stringent security and data encryption measures.
#8 Considering Potential Expansion
Although this is the very initial stage, it is a good idea to have an expansion plan in place, over varying time-periods. This includes potential markets and areas you can tap into, possible affiliations, improved delivery systems, and more. It does not have to be detailed, all ‘i’s’ dotted and all ‘t’s crossed, but having feasible one-, two-, and five-yearly plans gives you achievable targets to work towards. These plans can be refined at regular intervals, once the store goes live and real-life factors come into play.
#9 Integrating Links to Social Media
An innovative idea is to link the store with various social media platforms such as Google+, Facebook, Twitter, etc. and allow people to place orders via their social media accounts. This sidesteps the account creation and logging-in hassles, and facilitates a quicker and smoother shopping process!
#10 Mobile Optimization
Over 57% of the millennial population opts for online grocery shopping today, and a huge chunk of these orders on-the-go via their smartphones. Given this, mobile optimization is an important aspect of your online grocery store. Most website platforms have e-commerce themes that are responsive and restructure themselves as per the device. However, apart from the default application, optimizing the site for mobile phones, rearranging sidebars and product displays so that they are easily accessible can go a long way in improving revenue from the smartphone sector.
#11 Adding the SEO touch
Adding product descriptions and site content which is compliant with SEO requirements helps the site rank better in organic search. E-commerce stores generally neglect the content descriptions added for the product, often using generic descriptions for the listed products; alt-tags for images, image descriptions, keyword research are perplexing concepts and hence completely out of the question!
However, such product pages rank considerably lower in the browser search than SEO optimized pages, which is why, creating original, SEO-friendly content can be extremely beneficial.
#12 Going the Extra Mile
Online grocery stores have plenty of advantages over mortar-and-brick stores; if there is one thing the former lack, it is adding a personal touch to the grocer-customer relation. Online grocery stores need to go the extra mile to satisfy consumers, to generate and retain customer loyalty. It is imperative to make sure that consumer expectations are met, when they interact with the store for the first time. The store has to be impeccable in terms of easy accessibility, clean layout, and timely delivery.
Setting up an online grocery store can be easy, once you know what exactly you are expecting from it. Choosing the appropriate software as your foundation stone and adding products after due consideration to their demand and availability is essential while setting up the store. And once the basic setup is up and running, you can introduce memberships, subscriptions, discounts, and more, that help develop the store further!