Building loyalty in the age of new delivery models.

Laura Dixon, Marketing Executive in London, UK
06 May 2022

Rapid delivery models are now key to the way we shop. The rise of next-day delivery subscriptions like Amazon Prime and rapid delivery providers like Deliveroo, Uber Eats, and Gorillas means that consumers no longer need to travel to get the products they want; instead, these products can be in their hands in as little as 30 minutes.  

The ability to order a takeaway from our phones went through a huge expansion and diversification during the pandemic, branching out from restaurant partnerships and aligning with retailers in the grocery sector and beyond. Thanks to partnerships like Currys with Uber; and WHSmith, Co-op and Boots with Deliveroo, consumers can now have their pharmaceuticals, groceries, stationery, and even electronics delivered to their doorstep in a matter of minutes. These partnerships proved to be very successful. Deliveroo reported that, in 2021, grocery orders represented 7% of their global turnover

By teaming up with these providers, retailers have been able to offer faster delivery options than ever before. These partnerships also protect the retailer in many ways - if the order goes wrong, the customer takes their complaint to the delivery company. But these partnerships also take the store out of the conversation, meaning that retailers are now faced with the challenge of how to maintain a relationship with their customers.

So, how can digital help retailers inspire loyalty and bridge the gap created with the emergence of rapid delivery platforms? 

Retailers should create websites and apps that are optimised for digital shopping. For example, bringing the highest-selling (and ideally highest-margin) products front and centre to aid discoverability online will help to make digital customer journey more seamless while also helping to create upselling opportunities for retailers. Since mobile devices play such a central role in the way we shop, retailers must also ensure that all digital channels are integrated and offer consistent services and experiences, across all touchpoints. Sainsbury’s has made a great start by creating an app that integrates well with their website experience. Shoppers can browse and search for products, see offers, create and later shop from their favourites, make changes to orders, use their Sainsbury’s Delivery Pass and check out quickly and securely. Having this style of omnichannel digital experience encourages customers to shop directly with the retailer, reducing the need for rapid delivery providers and, as a result, keeping the retailer directly connected to their customers.  

We’ve recently conducted a survey at Somo to identify the most prominent customer pain points in the grocery sector’s online shopping experience. Our results have shown that the main issues include receiving inaccurate substitutions and products that are on (or dangerously close) to their expiration dates, limited recommendations for new products that customers haven’t already purchased, and a lack of delivery slots. When shopping online, customers want functionality that allows them to see expiration dates before they buy, with discounts displayed online, just as they are in-store for items that are close to their sell-by date. They want indications of when items will come back in stock or which nearby stores have them, and real-time replacement suggestions for products that are currently unavailable.

Encouraging and maintaining loyalty from customers requires more than a good app, and grocery brands need to do more to connect with their customers. Nearly 70% of customers are more likely to buy from brands that provide a personalised experience and communications. Given that brands hold so much data about their consumers, retailers should be using this knowledge to greater effect. For example, highlighting a recipe based on a person’s previous shopping habits and creating a shopping list for the customer as part of their online shopping journey. Continual, personal communication with shoppers will not only encourage future purchases and increase the spend, but will also help build loyalty and bridge the gap between the retailer and the customer that rapid delivery providers have created. 

Customer connection is key and in a saturated market full of legacy brands and a few game-changing newcomers, only the brands that can solve customer pain points, provide a seamless digital experience and deliver what customers want will earn loyalty in the age of new delivery models.