ZMI ALPHA:How Grocers Are Using Contextual Commerce

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ZMI ALPHA:How Grocers Are Using Contextual Commerce

As the past year accelerated the digital shift, with consumers spending more and more of their time online, growing increasingly accustomed to seamless digital experiences, supermarkets and grocery stores are being challenged to meet consumers on the channels they frequent. By approaching commerce contextually, rather than thinking about buying behaviors as if shopping occurred in a vacuum removed from other aspects of consumers’ lives, these businesses can integrate their brands into shoppers’ daily routines.

For example, Walmart, Target, Kroger and Whole Foods have all added voice ordering features through consumers’ smart speakers, according to Progressive Grocer. The former three all allow consumers to order groceries through their Google Assistant devices, while the latter allows ordering through Alexa. The ease of ordering through these channels, compared to the clunky-ness of navigating even the most thoughtfully designed websites and apps, may encourage consumers both to adopt the ordering method and to order more often than they would through more traditional ecommerce channels. In fact, by 2022, consumer spending through voice orders is estimated to total $40 billion, a 20-fold increase from where the channel stood in 2017, per a report by OC&C Strategy Consultants.

Another implementation of contextual commerce is the “buy button,” the branded checkout button appearing on a merchant’s website that offers consumers a quicker way to pay for something they want to buy online. According to PYMNTS February 2021 Buy Button Report: Optimizing Payment Choice For Digital-First Consumers, “Buy buttons emerged in 2020 as a powerful industry-wide rebuke to the relentless drag of a tanking economy: Shorter checkout times and simple, secure payment processes helped boost eCommerce futures for retailers on and off Wall Street.”

Surveying over 800 companies across 17 categories, the Buy Button Report found that the share of merchants integrating buy buttons leapt to 76 percent in 2020, a historic high. The report also found that the average checkout time when shoppers used the buy button was far shorter than when they did not, 99 seconds versus 176 seconds.

These buy buttons are not limited to grocers’ online shops — integrating buy buttons into other e-locations that consumers frequent provides more opportunities to drive sales. Walmart, for instance, is taking advantage of homebound consumers’ desire for high-quality, entertaining  content with its Cookshop series, created in partnership with video tech company Eko. The series offers recipe videos equipped with interactive shopping features guiding consumers frictionlessly along the purchasing path. The “shop this episode” button, which allows  consumers to add all ingredients from the video to their cart in two clicks, offers a seamless buying experience integrated into consumers’ content-watching routine.

In fact, given how connected consumers’ shopping habits and cooking habits are, marketing solutions provider Chicory has created an entire platform out of this kind of recipe-to-commerce integration, partnering with major supermarket chains and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies to target consumers in more effective contexts. As company CEO and Co-Founder Yuni Sameshima wrote in Forbes, “Back in 2015, a Google consumer survey of more than 400 millennials found that 40% choose a particular brand featured in a recipe because they believe it adds a unique flavor. In other words, recipes — including digital recipes — can be used to discover new products, decide what to buy and inform shopping lists.”

Accordingly, targeted ads on recipe sites as well as commerce integrations like “buy now” and “get ingredients” buttons can turn these recipes into an extension of a grocer’s online shop. Chicory also recommends co-branding with content creators. Nick Minnick, director of retailer development, suggests, “Brands can demonstrate that they’re supporting their retailer partners by co-creating and co-branding custom content to live on retailer and/or brand sites, and then layering in shoppability.”

For grocery businesses to keep up as consumers spend less time shopping on Main Street and more time on their internet-enabled devices, they need to incorporate themselves into those online routines. As Karen Webster pointed out, “Companies understand that having a meaningful and long-standing relationship with consumers means running their business on ‘consumer time.’… It’s why the next evolution of ‘on demand’ will see innovators enable commerce at a time that’s convenient to the consumer, inside new places that are too.”


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About The Study: The Holiday Shopping Retrospective Study: Merchant Insights For 2021 And Beyond, a PYMNTS and PayPal collaboration, examines consumers’ shopping practices and preferences during the 2020 holiday season and what these mean for merchants now and for holiday seasons to come. The report is based on a census-balanced survey of 2,070 U.S. consumers.

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