An Online Grocery Shopper’s Manifesto

Even though in my day job I consult and speak on all things shopper marketing, I have a dirty secret: I hate shopping! Especially, I hate shopping for groceries. I hate the time it takes, the struggle to find just the thing I’m looking for, the frustration I experience when what I’m looking for has been deliberately hidden in another aisle. I hate the angst I experience in queuing (Am I in the right line? Why do I always choose the slowest one?) and I hate the sense exhaustion I feel when my family and I get home and have to unpack bags and bags of “stuff”. So why do I do it? Why not simply go online and get it all done over a cool glass of wine in my garden?

Well here’s the thing – I love shopping online for books and music online – mostly because iTunes works so well and I can do it anywhere. I buy Christmas gifts online which I often find frustrating , but I do it infrequently and I know that the time it takes and the frustrations I experience payback in the hours I save avoiding the Christmas hoard.

But I don’t buy groceries online because the process is almost as equally frustrating s going to a real store, and where I live in Singapore often leads to the goods I ordered not turning up, or worse turning up in state that renders them in-consumable.

Bearing the difficulties and frustrations many of us experience with online grocery shopping and each of has a unique set of needs as shoppers; I’d like to put forward a manifesto of how I dearly wish grocery retailers would approach their online customers:

Personalise the experience for shoppers  – I’m a human being. As a result my choices are complex – learn about me – ask me my preferences (organic versus regular) and how far I will stretch my preferences (will I pay more for organic?). In which categories are brands important and in which will a store brand do? Do I have principles, for example “never company Y” – and to what extent am I prepared to stand on them? And since I’m a human and, in most cases I don’t know the answers to these questions, analyse my behavior and learn about me from that.

Curate – Ok I’m an individual but in each category I shop in I’ll behave like some others. Place me in the right segment and show me what other shoppers like me are interested in. I’d like to know when there’s a new product on the market for people like me, I’d like to know that my peers prefer a different brand of olive oil, or that there really is a low-cholesterol alternative. When you see me behaving outside of the segment norms, like when I buy energy drinks, more salads and vegetables and so on, recognize this and help me find more products that might help my transition.

Reinforce my habits – in some categories I don’t care about the range you offer, I’m only interested in one thing – a brand, a variant, a pack size. In these places I have a habit, reinforce it. Make it easy for me to buy what I want, or better don’t give me the option to buy anything else and you know what, help me save money on it!

Make it easy – I’m amazed that the new Tesco app lists products alphabetically – this isn’t a library! I’ve spend the last 30 years being Colgate, why now do I have to scroll through the A’s and the B’s to get there? Oh and by the way use my everyday language, I don’t think like a computer or a professional buyer – in my world, a six pack of green apples is not “G.SmithFrench6PKreg” so give things a name – or better still give me a picture!

Make it reliable – simply put, if you don’t have it in stock, don’t sell it and if I’ve bought it please deliver it! Otherwise I may as well go to the shop thank you!

Make it convenient – If I’m going to save time I want shopping to take ‘no extra time’. I want to be able to shop when I’m on the bus or the train, when I’m stuck in a jam. I want to stick things on my shopping list when I think of them not when its “shopping time” – in truth I’d rather “shopping time” were actually “all of the time, with no extra time”. So please, please, please don’t presume I’m going to shop at home in front of my computer and give up more time for you, the retailer than I have to.

Here’s the really funny thing though, these ideas work in the bricks and mortar world all the time – wouldn’t be great if all grocery stores did this?


8 thoughts on “An Online Grocery Shopper’s Manifesto

  1. !Viva la revolucion!
    Toby if you are not careful you will change your status from agitator to revolutionary. Any luck finding a client/ retailer brave enough to stretch the boundaries with some disruptive innovation to start the revolution?

    • Hey Scott,

      Thanks for the support!

      I’ve been trying to start a revolution for years and would welcome with open arms clients who would consider innovative ways to resolve increasingly chronic issues in the industry!

      Best Toby

  2. Pingback: Shopper Marketing – Bricks Beat Clicks , When Done Correctly « Mike Anthony @ engage consultants

  3. Hi From Bkk Toby

    Another wish would be a “basic items cart.” I bet every time I go to the grocery store, I buy bread, milk, beer, yoghurt, lettuce, spaghetti, maybe canned tuna etc etc. Why not suggest this as my basic cart: It is easier to delete stuff than to find it,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s