How brands will win in grocery's eCommerce boom
On June 9, Amazon announced the launch of its AmazonFresh online supermarket in London, with the likelihood of rolling out this same-day delivery across other major UK cities. It's the first international launch of the service, which is already available in six US cities, and provides confirmation of something shopper marketers have known for a while: the next explosion in eCommerce growth will come from groceries and other FMCG categories. When spending on those items shifts online at scale, it will add up to the biggest disruption yet driven by digital shopping - and one for which many brands are less prepared than they would like.
Why FMCG needs a different digital strategy
Up to now, the categories dominating eCommerce have involved consumers actively investing effort in journeys towards purchases that are either expensive, important or personal. Think of someone booking a holiday, seeking out a drop-dead new handbag, hearing about a book they want to buy there and then, or evaluating the newest mobile phones. In each case, these consumer journeys enable brands to map, identify and directly influence 'moments of truth'. As marketers, we can identify when people are likely to be inspired to buy, we can detect when they seem to be researching items, and we have lots of options for how we reach and engage them during these moments before the decision is made. Shopper marketing has largely cracked the eCommerce purchase journey in these high-involvement categories.
FMCG is different - because the key moments of truth along the path to purchase are often very subtle and can't easily be separated from other choices a shopper is making. In FMCG, the choice of retailer channel often takes priority, immediately defining the mission and context in which shoppers choose the categories and products to fit their needs. And within retailer websites, brands have limited freedom in how they can engage and influence consumers. In that sense, things aren't so different from offline shopper marketing.
The time is now to build a better online shopping experience
The arrival of AmazonFresh is just the start of the next big opportunity in eCommerce. Many things will change when grocery shopping moves online - but the fundamentals of how shoppers behave will remain the same. To navigate an online future for FMCG, brands must find a way to strike the right balance between the essential shopper currencies of time, money and energy. The most effective way to do so is to work product by product, category by category, retailer by retailer - just as shopper marketing has always done. Whether online or offline, the brands that make it easy for shoppers to buy will be the brands that prosper.