The Independent’s Playbook: Keeping Pace With E-Commerce Demands

July 29, 2020

By Jim Dudlicek, NGA Director, Communications and External Affairs

The brick-and-mortar grocery shopping experience will eventually emerge from the depths of the pandemic and once again offer customers the sights, smells and tastes that have been curtailed by social distancing, sheltering in place and other safety precautions.

But if the COVID-19 crisis has taught food retailers anything, it’s not to underestimate the demand for grocery e-commerce.

It’s generally recognized that online grocery pickup and delivery leapt ahead about five years in as months, outstripping pre-pandemic growth projections. Online sales have soared at major chains and independent operators alike.

Among the beneficiaries is Farmstead, a pure-play online grocer in California’s San Francisco Bay area. Pradeep Elankumaran, Farmstead’s co-founder and CEO, has openly questioned the need for traditional brick-and-mortar grocery stores to exist much further into the future.

That stance, while understandably disputed by many, certainly takes on additional weight with the news that Farmstead’s order volume grew 500% while San Franciscans sheltered in place, leading to the company opening a new microhub that will allow the e-grocer to immediately quadruple its capacity for grocery delivery orders.

The lesson here is, e-commerce isn’t going anywhere, and digital players like Farmstead are upping their games, so independent supermarkets need to do the same. While the in-store sensory experience will always be an important point of difference, you can’t afford to let up on your e-commerce service.

How can you keep up? NGA is hosting a webinar next week that will offer guidance on enhancing your e-commerce prowess.

Boosting Your E-Commerce Presence, scheduled for Aug. 5, 2020 at 2 p.m. EDT, will address such topics as effective techniques in battling the big box, how to bring brick and mortar into your e-commerce advertising presence, the impact of social media, using Google and voice search, and employing digital advertising agencies.

The panel discussion will be moderated by Rob Christian, CEO of retail grocery e-commerce platform ShopHero, and include input from independent retailers and industry experts.

Register for the webinar here.