Web 2.0 – it was about the info, now sales?

August 24, 2009

Web 2.0 – it was about the info, now sales?

By now most consumers and retailers understand that online grocery shopping has potential but is limited in scope. This channel can be more convenient for some time-strapped shoppers, but unfortunately, most online grocery retailers do not provide thorough nor informative product information, and it is not just about, say, a missing nutrition fact label; some sites do not even have product package images!  But this is about to change.

A huge benefit of online selling is the vast scope and purchase tools you can make available to shoppers at relatively low cost. The more information you can provide consumers, the more likely they are to trust you, build a relationship with you and buy products from you. Sounds to us like a recipe for a happy, loyal customer. Many non-food retailers have achieved just that benefit.

Looking to the future, the supermarket shelves are changing rapidly. Currently you can find scores of SKUs per category, but already in the excuse of efficiency, retailers are paring those down to the “best of” brands - the top three best selling brands and of course, the store’s private label. The more obscure, seemingly less exciting, and possibly smaller start-up food companies’ SKUs are getting pushed out the door and into new unchartered territory – the online grocery world.

The lack of information is not ideal in a time when an increasing number of consumers are concerned about the foods they eat. Concerns range from ingredient sources to nutrition information. As just one example, AllergyFree Passport estimates that over 100 million Americans are following special diets (obviously a growing group who are devouring as much food information and label reading they can handle!). This figure not only includes the allergy afflicted but those with certain medical conditions as well, probably a sweeping underestimate.

While many brands are lamenting the move off the shelves and wondering how they will survive, the virtual movement of these food products may well force the evolution of online food shopping and finally help us realize the huge potential channel that is staring at us through our computer screens.