28 August 2020, 09:13 AM
  • As consumers continue to shop online, how can you beat supermarkets at their own game while maintaining the attributes you’re known and loved for?
Master online selling with an indie twist

According to 7 Key Insights Behind Fresh Food e-Commerce in Produce, Meat and Dairy published by AMCOR, April 2020, demand for online food shopping is steadily increasing, with home delivery the most popular form of e-commerce for groceries (79% of the UK population want this when shopping online). While 42% of consumers spend more online than when in store, the benefits of developing a strong online presence with a reliable and engaged delivery partner are mounting.

Recent months have seen many older ‘silver surfers’ turn to online shopping and research suggests that they will continue to shop online beyond the pandemic. Meanwhile, as social distancing looks to remain over the Christmas period, retailers could see a significant consumer shift over to online delivery during this crucial trading period.

Maintain the great experience you are known for
For independent retailers to capitalise on these growing trends, they need to play to their strengths online as they do in-store, as well as capitalising on the successful models other businesses in the sector have established - for example, offering the personal service, great products and specialist knowledge their customers enjoy in person, combined with the ease and convenience of a larger supermarket online shopping experience.

It is key that the messaging throughout the retail experience is thoroughly on-point, and that this doesn’t slip when customer service is provided by an out of house business. Darren Henaghan, managing director of Borough Market, which works with grocery delivery service Good Sixty said, “Those who shop at Borough Market do so because they know that the produce here is high quality, sustainably sourced and often unique. While shoppers want to peruse our many market stalls - taking in the atmosphere, speaking to our knowledgeable traders and discovering something new - and by working with Good Sixty we’re able to offer an alternative to those who are unable to make it down to us in person. Our online service ensures that more people are able to regularly get hold of ingredients that they simply wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere.”

Know what your customers want
Great product photography is a must online. The produce must look as good as it does in store to entice the customers to click. And 65% of UK consumers consider sustainability when shopping online, with recyclability their main concern. So while packaging must be robust enough to protect goods in transit, sustainable materials should be used. The packaging used for online delivery can make a great first impression when the goods arrive at the door.

It is important that the business retailers entrust to provide their delivery service upholds the same ethos so the customer experience is maintained throughout. Chris Edwards, founder and managing director of Good Sixty explains, “The quality and provenance of the produce at Borough Market is outstanding, as is the traders’ passion in what they do. At Good Sixty, we’ve designed Borough Market Online to reflect these qualities, giving users real insight into each stall and the individuals behind them.” The eco credentials of Borough Market are also upheld: “Good Sixty’s platform helps support Borough’s independent retailers and producers by ensuring that they have a collective online space in which customers can order from multiple traders with a single check out and a single delivery which is made via our zero emission cargo bikes and electric vans. This has helped ensure the Market is able to service the current shift in customers’ shopping habits, offering Londoners an ethical and environmentally friendly way to shop online.”

Relationships are key
In this time of distanced communications, it’s important that the relationship between customers and retailers are maintained, with a direct line of contact established between them. In this way, customers can make special requests and retailers can offer carefully considered alternatives to out of stock items, as they would in store, when shopping online.

Says Chris, “As Borough Market is becoming a place where more people do their weekly shop there is a far reaching benefit beyond the market itself; the reason we’re called Good Sixty is because research shows that every pound you spend with a local independent producer has a 60% greater economic benefit to your local community than spending it with a large supermarket.”

While supermarkets and large-scale online retailers have long mastered the art of e-commerce, by establishing relationships with outsourced service providers who share your independent ethos you can capitalise on both the consumer desire for the safety and convenience of online shopping, and for the experience and connection that only an independent retailer can provide.

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