Making local stores shoppable from their digital properties has been a key strategy for retail leaders serving customers who increasingly start their shopping online. With Whole Foods becoming a part of Amazon, connected stores will fast become table stakes in the competitive retail industry. Amazon has long competed on selection, price and logistics. Connected stores with same hour convenience in 450 locations are likely on the way.
The strategy is simple — offer mobile shoppers a quick and convenient way to shop online from local store inventory. Build the experience into a mobile app, often promoted through a loyalty program. Let the store become an efficient pickup point. Promote and reward regular in-store shopping trips. Offer curbside pickup in an hour or less for time-crunched customers who like quick convenience. Retailers like CVS who have established these programs are better prepared to compete with Amazon. They have a head start offering new options that are likely to come to Whole Foods locations in their trading areas.
Amazon has been a tough competitor, but has largely struggled to gain traction with quick convenience. In most markets, Amazon has not been able to offer immediate gratification to the consumer. Amazon has had difficulty fulfilling digital orders in an hour. That is likely to change, if several of the programs currently piloted by Amazon come to Whole Foods locations.
This news is a call to action to refine current order ahead programs or get a branded, connected store program quickly in place. Fortunately, there are best practices, mature technologies and great metrics that allow retailers to scale these programs quickly. The key for the retailer is to choose the experiences that are right for their customers, consistent with their brand and sustainable over time.
At Curbside, we work with retailers and restaurants on digital ordering programs that deliver quick convenience to consumers. We offer a full suite of products, including a white label platform for digital ordering and a pick/pack tool for efficient fulfillment. We connect apps and websites to local stores. We have a passion for developing great new customer experiences for the digital age. With the news today, that digital age is coming more quickly.