Personalizing Your Online Grocery Shopping Experience

The author also seeks to answer why grocers should go beyond product recommendations

Personalization was the word of the year 2019-20. And most businesses realize the value and impact of product recommendations on product discovery and customer experience. What they may not realize is that personalization as a strategy is much broader than recommendations, and the field has evolved to allow for finer targeting, granular customer understanding and developing a relationship with the customer.

Personalization at 1:1 level requires algorithms: these are machine learning and deep learning models that help the computer decide the most relevant experience for a given interaction. Algorithms can not only anticipate and build the online grocery basket for each individual, but also suggest relevant complete-the-recipe products, personalize offers and coupons, and personalize search results for every customer. Algorithms understand the customer and the retailer’s KPI objectives, and then make the most optimal decision for every digital interaction.

High-impact applications of personalization in online grocery include:

1. Aiding customers with 'complete the recipe' recommendations when they add a seed product to the cart. If they add pizza base, chances are they will need pizza sauce, cheese and seasoning

2. Surfacing relevant products in search results and category pages, based on granular dietary and health preferences - Is the customer vegan? Prefers organic products? Is lactose intolerant?

3. Getting a view of the entire household – know and anticipate the categories needed by multiple members of the family - Are there kids in the household? Is someone diabetic?

4. Showing aspirational pages that help customers try new products and recipes while aligning with their taste, health and lifestyle preferences

5. Uncovering offers relevant to them - based on a customer's home store and regular needs, personalize coupons, newsletters and direct mail for each household

6. Suggesting replenishment and re-buy when they are likely running low on certain products, at a personalized cadence

7. Recommending affinity weighted substitutes for out-of-stock products so the customer gets what they need and retailer secures the share of wallet

Grocers can tap into unified customer profiles and out-of-the-box algorithms to curate this experience, without having to manually set rules for every possible scenario. e-grocery has

tremendous potential, it can not only become more intuitive but also inspirational, evolving from ‘just another store’ to a ‘destination’ that engages and inspires shoppers’ to experiment with different ingredients and recipes. That’s the secret sauce to e-grocers growing customer share of wallet, improving frequency and achieving long-term customer loyalty.

The author is Bhavna Sachar – Director, Product Marketing at Algonomy

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