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Out With the Old: The New Way of Securing Grocery Customers

Traditionally, retail grocery chains have relied heavily on CPGs to build business via promotional budgets and other marketing mechanisms that drive customers into a store or make an online purchase.

While leveraging CPG’s promotional budget is an important play in the marketing mix, it does not serve to build real business value for the grocer.

The new way is to attract and retain customers by creating offers that enhance brand value by supporting the consumer’s shopping experience and the grocer’s brand.

According to a recent Core Research report, online grocery shopping has steadily increased by 52% since March 2020 and most shoppers will continue to buy groceries online after the pandemic.

While there is increased online activity, the cost of doing business is higher for grocers as supply chain issues caused by COVID-19 continue to increase costs and disrupt margins.

Economic viability requires work on the supply side (cost reduction with more efficient systems and processes by suppliers, better fulfillment, etc.) but there is much work to be done on the demand side as well.

In order to facilitate business value, eCommerce growth must focus on acquisition and retention in a way that factors in margin impact.

Of course, many of the predictive engagement tactics we will discuss can be leveraged for a broad array of industries including retail, banking, and quick-service restaurants.


Reduce churn

Grocers also need to find more cost-efficient ways to attract new consumers and retain them since the cost of acquisition far outweighs the cost of retention. Churn causes inefficiencies in the acquisition cost and needs to be minimized while customers are shopping.

One way to accomplish this is to influence on-the-fence shoppers (who will not buy unless incentivized from specific referral sites with personalized offers while they are still shopping on your site or app).

After all, if you wait to incentivize them when they are off the site, you decrease the chance of converting that incentive to a ‘purchase’ as time works against you.


Rethink acquisition

All of this is not to say that grocers should avoid consumers when they are not actively shopping online. In fact, they need to evaluate what happened during the shopping session and react accordingly to begin to influence the next session.

For example, you should send a contextually relevant email or push messages post-visit to consumers who bought as well as who did not buy based on a.) their degree of intent to buy, b.) degree of friction they experienced, c.) items viewed vs. items purchased.

This allows you to begin to build unique customer profiles that will influence your future acquisition and retention efforts.


Influence early and accurately to find hidden revenue

Effective e-commerce sites move visitors through the funnel—from browse, to decide, and eventually, to buy. What if you could uncover hidden revenue in the funnel of your e-commerce site that you’ve worked so hard to build?

To do so, you need to introduce an Early Purchase Prediction (EPP) model that accurately predicts purchase outcomes early on in each website visit.

The EPP model identifies “On-The-Fence” (influenceable) shoppers who can be influenced to make a purchase with an incentive and motivates them to engage in many different real-time actions that are immediate, relevant, and lead to the desired outcome for both the business and the shopper.

This tactic has been proven to increase incremental conversion rates by 15-45% for targeted audiences (for an overall 1-3% increase) and incremental revenue impact of more than $50 million/year for our larger customers.

When you have this capability at work you can understand and control spending to acquire customers much more quickly and efficiently while protecting margins.

Furthermore, grocery shopping is no longer actioned by seasons, sales, CPG promotion budgets, and other traditional triggers and events.

Rather, shopping is an anytime, anywhere omnichannel activity. Understanding your customer’s shopping behavior, their intent, and what incentivizes them allows you to control your spending on acquisition and retention, and forecast future spending with a higher degree of confidence and ROI.





Perhaps the silver lining for grocers and all online commerce operators is to better leverage digital strategies to build the business and long-term value. COVID-19 presents a wonderful opportunity right in front of us. You only have to look for new ways of doing business to reap the benefits.




LinkedIn: Debjani Deb

Debjani is the co-founder and CEO of ZineOne, which provides a predictive personalization platform powered by continuously learning models that create positive outcomes for brands and consumers. She leads the execution of ZineOne’s vision and is responsible for the overall company performance.

Previously, she was the co-founder of EmPower which was sold to Genpact (NYSE G) and the Worldwide CSO at GCI, a WPP company. She has also worked at Booz Allen Hamilton, ONI systems, Mayan Networks, and AT&T Bell Labs. Ms. Deb has an MBA from MIT and an MS from Stanford University.