By: Doug Baker, Vice President, Industry Relations - Private Brands, Technology, Food Marketing Institute

Mystery ShopperForty-five years of consumers’ grocery shopping habits documented in our U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report shows that households have their own unique ways of meeting weekly food shopping needs. Some want a dazzling experience, others want convenience and many are dividing the task among members of the household. But, when it comes to grocery shopping online, what are consumers looking for? 

According to the 2019 Trends report, 21% of U.S. shoppers are regular online shoppers. Among online shoppers, many see value in online features like list building tools, easy returns, subscriptions services and integration with other online services. Which of these features are essential to the online grocery shopping experience? More importantly, how does a store’s online grocery shopping experience measure up to competitors? 

When food retailers want to see how their in-store experience compares to their competitor down the street, they sometimes call on “mystery shoppers.” Taking the lead from our members, FMI has teamed up with FitForCommerce, a boutique consultancy firm specializing in ecommerce and omnichannel retail, on a project to benchmark the omnichannel grocery shopping experience using some of these same mystery-shopper tactics. 

Based on what today’s digital shoppers typically expect, FitForCommerce developed a list of 175+ online, mobile and in-store criteria. Using this intel, they shopped 26 U.S. food retailer experiences and looked for insights into the combination of digital and omnichannel shopping features that make for a high-quality customer experience. The results of this research will be presented in an inaugural Grocery Omnichannel Index report that will give food retailers an idea of areas where they excel and where they can improve. 

Initial findings reveal that food retailers rank high when it comes to delivering relevant content, however there is a significant opportunity to take the experience to the next level by ensuring that content is also shoppable. For example, grocers can offer the online shopper an opportunity to add ingredients directly to their order for purchase based on an online recipe. 

The Grocery Omnichannel Index findings will be presented September 16 at Groceryshop during the session New Benchmarking Insights on the Omnichannel Roadmap to Success. Attendees can also discuss the findings with FMI and FitForCommerce staff at the FitForCommerce booth #103 at Groceryshop. Full findings from the Index will be released soon after the presentation in Las Vegas.