Jim Dudlicek, Director of Communications and External Affairs
Special occasions are going to be very different this year, presenting an opportunity for independent grocers to deliver in-demand meal solutions while leveraging consumers’ increasing acceptance of e-commerce.
With service deli sales taking a hit due to the pandemic, grocers can offer catering services out of their deli departments to create solutions for fall and winter holiday eating via their e-commerce platforms for ease of ordering and pickup or delivery.
Delving into this opportunity, NGA recently hosted a webinar, moderated by Nick Nickitas, founder and CEO of Rosie, an e-commerce solution provider for independent grocers. Using Rosie’s Cater platform as a backdrop, Nickitas led a discussion that included Thomas Horne, senior e-commerce manager at Utah-based Associated Food Stores, and Corry Lankford, director of advertising and e-commerce at Texas-based Brookshire Brothers.
Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:
Health and safety are top of mind among consumers, so many are staying home for the holidays rather than traveling. More are utilizing online shopping and curbside pickup as safety measures, and with fewer restaurant outings, families need at-home meal solutions when they don’t want to cook. For the holidays, more folks expect smaller groups over large gatherings, so grocers must deliver on these needs.
Independents excel at delivering differentiated experiences, including delicious crafted foods and locally made items not found in competitors’ stores. This gives grocers an edge over big-box stores and fast-casual dining options, something to be leveraged in merchandising and marketing.
Multiple experience options offer greater flexibility to serve customers on their terms. For example, offering catering services within the overall grocery experience satisfies customers who want to shop for both groceries and party trays simultaneously. On the other hand, establishing a separate microsite for catering provides a dedicated platform for customers who don’t want to shop the whole store. Meanwhile, offering both options is what Rosie calls “the nirvana of Cater,” making it simple for customers to find what they’re looking for, no matter the occasion.
Catering equals larger basket sizes. Being able to place an order for an appetizer platter alongside regular grocery items means increased revenue. Plus, the added service makes a retailer a one-stop-shop for groceries and family dinners as well as special occasion orders.
Detailed stories sell more products. Use photos to showcase your meal selections. Craft enticing descriptions to accompany the photos. Make sure to include serving size, allergy information and any available customizations or substitutions. Identify complementary products such as napkins, plates, cutlery and beverages. Work with your deli team to figure out what items are possible and get their buy-in by explaining how they can increase sales.
To view this complete webinar and others in the series, visit https://nga.sclivelearningcenter.com/MVSite/default.aspx.