Chedraui’s digital transformation through grocery ecommerce
The growth of ecommerce in the last decade hasn’t been uniform. While industries such as electronics and books saw a fast adoption, others like fashion and grocery had to deal with some clients’ apprehension. Yet the recent rise in popularity of food delivery services also sparked a change towards grocery ecommerce, with clients increasingly asking for same-day delivery and even one-hour delivery. Afterwards, the COVID-19 pandemic only amplified this retail shift.
In this context, grocery has become one of the industries where it’s hardest to consolidate a durable digital adoption strategy. Chedraui, one of the biggest grocery retailers in Mexico, has found important lessons in its effort to implement a future-proof strategy for its ecommerce, which you can find below.
Time of opportunity
The challenge for grocery retailers grew even bigger during the last two years, when clients flocked to online channels in order to stay in their homes as much as possible. This increased the number of users buying groceries online, and it also meant an acceleration in the implementation of digital transformation projects for the grocery industry, giving smaller time frames for important internal changes.
Chedraui claims that it has seen a change in the consumer behavior even after some of the restrictions related to COVID-19 have been lifted, with online grocery sales being the new normal.
“There is more mobility and clients are returning to brick-and-mortar stores, but online adoption keeps climbing and we’re glad to see that some cities’ online purchases represent double digit percentages. This means the client is considering this channel in their journey.”Anabel Cruz, Head of Ecommerce and Omnichannel at Chedraui
Santiago Naranjo, President of VTEX Latin America, highlights that the pandemic led to the adoption of ecommerce by an older demographic of the population, one that has purchasing power and demands better user experiences. This has increased the importance of some functionalities such as geolocalization and omnichannel solutions that allow for faster pickup and delivery times.
Putting all your eggs in one channel
Naranjo says that it’s the consumers themselves who have become omnichannel, and that they are not paying much attention to where they are interacting with a company, but how satisfied they are with that particular interaction.
This new paradigm calls for an online shopping experience based on flexibility, since the same customer may approach a physical store and the online store on different “shopping missions”, according to Chedraui’s Head of Ecommerce and Omnichannel. So, a grocery retailer’s mission is to enable as many contact points as possible with interested customers.
All of these contact points need to communicate seamlessly, since they work as different sides of the same customer’s experience, and they need to complement each other. This ability is especially challenging in an industry with product rotation as high as grocery.
The digital transformation also requires that companies that are experts in supply chains and the handling of food and beverage products turn into experts in digital services and customer care. Cruz stressed that her company can make mistakes, but they have to be corrected as soon as possible so the client has the best buying experience.
“The question is how do we change the way we’ve been doing things and how do we rely on the best technology available to do it. In the end, what we need to find is different processes to connect all the mechanisms at our disposal.”Anabel Cruz, Head of Ecommerce and Omnichannel at Chedraui
This flexibility requires a permanent connection between orders, stock, POS, OMS, payments, etc. In turn, Cruz highlights that achieving this calls for a mix between modifying internal processes and selecting the best technology (including an ecommerce platform) that can help take advantage of all the benefits available in the realm of grocery ecommerce.
Last but not least, the process of perfecting the shopping experience has a strong ally: data. Online shopping makes it easier for companies to tailor the information they send to customers in order to better align with what each of them is buying. As shoppers, we’re nearing a future where all the sales, communication and promos we see from a retailer are perfectly in line with the products that interest us the most.
Giving clients the royal treatment
The main metric to measure success in this process is customer feedback. Having a clear picture of what the customer is appreciating the most during the shopping journey and what is the main pain point for them can help perfect the end-to-end experience beyond the blueprint.
Cruz said that, in its attempt to further solidify its position as a leader in grocery sales, Chedraui chose VTEX as a strategic partner thanks to its great knowledge in the sector and a technological solution already anticipating the future of grocery retail.
“VTEX had the expertise and had already solved some of the problems we had identified we needed a solution for as soon as possible. These solutions were tested in other countries and were going to help us accelerate the adoption and incorporation in our business processes. It’s a big change, and everything has to work perfectly.”Anabel Cruz, Head of Ecommerce and Omnichannel at Chedraui
Last year, grocery retailers in Latin America saw an online participation of around 1%. This year, that figure has jumped to 4% and some retailers are seeing double digit numbers. Even after the pandemic, this looks like the perfect opportunity for online to take over. Maybe people not being able to pick their own avocados stopped being an issue a long time ago.