Below is a SNAP Online Basics Webinar that summarizes the SNAP Online Program as well as gives you firsthand experience from Jimmy Wright, Owner of Wright's Market, who has implemented the SNAP Online Program in his store.
"You only get one chance to make a good first impression."
The online grocery shopping experience gives new life to this old saying. Food retailers need to be prepared to provide online shoppers with a flawless online shopping experience from the day they launch eCommerce.
Before you consider implementing online shopping, you may want to begin by considering how well your store manages the basics of food retailing. Keep in mind that strengths and weaknesses within the walls of your physical store may only be visible to the population visiting your store, while online shopping may amplify both the positive AND negative aspects of your overall operations and reputation.
What are components of a well-run and respected physical grocery store and how might they transfer to online shopping? Let’s start with a few basics and examine both the physical and online aspects of each shopping experience.
- Item Pricing. Consider that while your store item pricing is only visible to shoppers in the store, your online shopping platform makes your entire pricing philosophy visible to all online shoppers AND competitors. How confident are you that your store item pricing is competitive?
- POS & Retail Technology Management. Great stores often have great POS/Scan coordinators. Since online shopping platforms are “mirror” copies of the store POS scan/item database, the accuracy of your scan coordinator is critically important for the online platform. Additionally, will management of the online platform be a task your current scan coordinator is able to take on, or will additional staff be needed?
- Store Layout & Merchandising. Think of how your store’s product offering is presented to shoppers in the store. For an online shopping platform, a website presentation that is easy to comprehend and navigate is also critical. Much of the online store layout has been programmed into the technical capabilities of online platforms, but extending the store shopping design to the online shopping experience is important.
- Inventory Management and Replenishment. Since stores often fulfill online orders from the store shelf stock, are you prepared to manage additional ordering and inventory levels with the addition of online sales?
- In-store Grocery Checkout. Shoppers hate standing in line to checkout – either at cashier-attended lanes or self-checkout. Physical stores that emphasize customer service and fast checkout will in most cases connect with more shoppers. Just as balancing the number of open checkouts in the physical store is important, making sure you have staffing flexibility to process fluctuations in online shopping volume is important. Most online shopping platforms do provide retailers with the capability to determine how many online orders they will accept and process in a day.
Comparable to a physical store determining how many checkout lanes should be installed and operated, the chart below introduces the concept of determining the number of online orders accepted and processed per day. The chart represents the number of orders per day a store must complete to cover just the basic monthly cost of the online shopping platform, assuming the retailer is charging customer fees for online shopping. How many additional store employees will be needed to fulfill orders accurately and efficiently each day? Fulfillment of the order is a “checkout” process that must be addressed in the online shopping environment.
- Customer Service. How well do your store staff handle customer issues? There is a level of quality required for interactions with customers in the physical store setting, and consideration of how your store will manage customer service for online customers is also critical.
There are other aspects of physical store operations that when well done in the store can also be carried over to the online shopping experience. As you begin your examination of offering online shopping, you may want to consider the addition of the service as a “new” business operation within your existing business. If you are already dedicated to being the best physical grocery store possible, that dedication is likely to carry over into your online shopping services too.
Please note that while this information may help provide more context and understanding of the SNAP Online process, FNS and NGAF cannot speak to what is right for your business specifically. Furthermore, FNS and NGAF do not endorse any specific price for items sold by your store, SNAP eligible or otherwise. Each retailer’s financial situation is unique and any decisions made to accept or not accept SNAP Online are yours alone.