About 18 months ago, my life (and certainly my grocery habits) changed radically. Why? I became an e-commerce grocery shopper.
By day, I’m just like most of you: a marketer who’s always analyzing what motivates shoppers’ actions and how we use that intel to drive results. But by evening, I’m just like most of the shoppers we all study: trying to balance quality, money, and time when my pantry’s devoid of even basics like PB&J.
When Walmart introduced its click-and-collect service, Walmart Grocery Pickup, into my area, I was a ready adopter. Yet even as an e-comm trend watcher, I was unprepared for how much it would change my whole thought process around shopping. Suddenly, I started questioning if a purchase could wait a couple of days until I was able to order online at Walmart, rather than run to the nearby Target (which for a physical store, offered minimal hassle). At the same time, I stopped questioning the price of parity products (like Glad vs. Hefty freezer bags), instead just opting for the one already in my “favorites” list.
Almost overnight, my first shopping decision became not what to buy, but where. Nearly a quarter of my grocery spending converted to a fast fulfillment mode where my “favorite” brands literally rose to the top of the page, ready for a one-click purchase. Meanwhile, their competitors didn’t even get a look, no matter what the price, because I didn’t take time to search them out. Suddenly my old construct of studying products and making comparisons gave way to my ability to fill a virtual cart in 7 minutes or less.
The role of my staple, brick-and-mortar choices changed too. Since I didn’t buy many fresh items on click-and-collect, the local natural foods retailer became a regular destination, opening up discovery of niche brands that—then I saw how much they were “liked” on social media—eventually replaced the big national names I once bought at big box stores. If I had a before-and-after picture of my pantry, the difference in shopping bags, brands, and boxes would leave you wondering if a new tenant had moved in.
All of which gives me new perspective not just as a shopper, but also as a marketer. When I hear brands talk about stealing share with a price battle, I challenge them on where the war is really being waged in today’s digital shopping. Are you even selling your product where people are shopping? Are you visible on the digital shelf as well as the physical shelf? With an internet full of information, is something like price even a purchase driver? The way people make decisions—what they consider and what they prioritize—has changed. As a marketer, and a shopper, I’ll never be the same.
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