ECommerce has grown to be a more than $300 billion a year enterprise, according to the U.S. Census, and supermarkets aren’t getting their piece of the pie — pun intended.
Americans still largely shop at brick-and-mortar supermarkets, and digital grocery sales accounted for just a tiny fraction of the billions spent online last year.
To find out more about what’s holding back omnichannel grocery solutions and what lies ahead for the industry, PYMNTS recently caught up with Chris Bryson, founder and CEO of Unata, a Toronto-based omnichannel and online sales solution provider for supermarkets and grocery store chains, such as Lowes and Roche Bros.
He told PYMNTS that, while the lack of online grocery sales and the dearth of players in the industry surprises him, there are significant differences between selling and delivering perishables and other groceries and selling other retail goods via online ordering.
One of these obstacles for supermarkets is the sheer amount of products they normally carry. Today’s typical grocer has nearly 50,000 individual products — ranging from chips and cookies to cleaning products — lining its shelves, according to Consumer Reports.
Bryson said that large number of goods, along with the range of offers and promotions offered at various locations, makes it much more difficult for grocery stores to offer the kind of online solutions that many other retailers provide.
As a result, Bryson said his team must build more complex solutions to allow supermarkets to continue to offer the same items and prices that are available in brick-and-mortar stores.
“Grocery is incredibly complicated in the sense that the number of SKUs is typically much higher, and you have a lot of disparity in store locations,” he explained. “So, pricing and keeping things consistent and all that kind of stuff is so much more complicated for the grocery industry.”
Around the Omnicommerce world
In an effort to improve their mobile shopping experiences and capture more of the quickly growing mobile commerce market, providers around the omnichannel space recently unveiled new mobile apps and features.
Staples, for example, announced last month that it had partnered with IBM to help enable ordering via mobile devices. Similarly, Google is said to be testing a new mobile feature that will allow users to comparison-shop online via voice command.
Meanwhile, popular NYC burger and QSR chain Shake Shack recently introduced a new mobile app that allows customers to order meals via smartphone to pick up at its Midtown East location in New York City. And AT&T Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, recently announced it had tapped ParkHub to create a mobile parking system for the stadium.
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