With the success of the online grocery industry comes an influx of technology startups trying to capitalize on the opportunity. It seems one of the only constants of today is that people need groceries – but the way they obtain them has drastically changed over the past year and a half. According to Insider Intelligence, online grocery sales grew 54.0% in 2020 to reach $95.82 billion, which propelled it to a 12.0% share of total US e-Commerce sales and 7.4% of all grocery sales.
Regardless of these new demands, retailers should be cautious about placing tech startups between them and their customers. An alarming trend we have seen as these “unicorns” step into the tech world is that desperate retailers welcome them into their business with open arms.
What they need to know is that these companies are usually bloated with investment equity dollars, determined to control the world, your data, and your customers’ experience, and operating a “here today, exit tomorrow” mentality.
Grocery retailers beware: Before you sign up with the next big grocery e-Commerce provider, make sure you are considering the implications. Here are five qualities your online grocery app should have.
1. Built as a Progressive Web App
Progressive Web Apps (PWA) are built and enhanced with modern APIs to deliver enhanced capabilities, reliability, and installability while reaching anyone, anywhere, on any device with a single codebase. At heart, PWAs are just web applications that can be accessed via browser or downloaded to a mobile device. Companies that have installed PWAs have seen impressive results, including an increase in pages per session, organic traffic, and daily active users while also decreasing bounce rates and dramatically reducing the overall size of the app.
- Capable: Until recently, platform-specific apps could handle much more robust functionalities than web apps, but new and upcoming APIs are expanding what the web can do.
- Reliable: Speed and overall performance are critical for product adoption. If an app feels slow, unresponsive, or clunky, users will bounce and may never return.
- Installable: Installed PWAs run in a standalone window instead of a browser tab. When a user can search for them on a device and jump between browser and app switcher, it makes them feel like part of the device they are installed on.
2. Native to the Point of Sale & Inventory
With an e-Commerce solution that is native to your point of sale, you have complete control over many aspects of the consumer experience:
- Automated, real-time item updates: Customers will not waste time designating substitution preferences because the inventory will be accurate the first time around.
- Special price lists: Create dynamic price lists for special customers based on preferences, group memberships, and more.
- Pricing Control: You control the pricing changes, service, and delivery fees rather than having to cope with what a third-party designates.
3. Meets Accessibility Standards
Web accessibility ensures there are no barriers that prevent website interactions or access by people with physical disabilities, situational disabilities, and socio-economic restrictions on bandwidth and speed. When it comes to accessibility compliance, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.0 AA is the most-used standard worldwide. There are multiple levels of compliance within WCAG, and each level includes guidelines that must be met to be accessible for all users.
The most notable requirements for acceptable compliance include:
- Optimal color contrast
- Use of alt text for imagery
- Consistent navigational elements
- Headings used in logical order
4. Offers an Intuitive User Experience
With the influx of new users to the online grocery scene, e-Commerce providers have had to design an experience for a wide range of user demographics. To become a long-term user, shoppers must find their first experience with the site satisfactory; otherwise, they will search elsewhere for a solution that meets their needs.
Grocery apps must meet industry best practices to remain competitive in on-site searching, product lists and filtering, account information, and most importantly, checkout functionality. The best apps are those that are well-organized and easy to navigate.
5. Provides Full Brand Control
Some online grocery apps advertise for multiple stores so their customers can price shop with your competitors. Not only that, if you are not a “preferred” partner of these platforms, your store prices will automatically be marked up (on average 15%), making your business a less desirable option than your competitors.
You should always have control over the consumer experience and present the uniqueness of your value and brand. To let a third party become critical middleware between you and your customers is a clear and present danger to your brand identity.