The UK’s major grocery retailers haven’t been having a great time of it recently.
Sales have either been stagnating or rapidly declining, and the old strategy of buying up as much commercial real estate as possible has proven to be a mistake in the face of shifting consumer preferences.
Increasing ecommerce sales have been one of the few positive trends for the likes of Sainsbury’s and Tesco, though when I last checked the UK grocery industry as a whole was doing a really bad job of the online user experience.
So what can be done to improve the situation?
Well over in Singapore an online grocery startup named Redmart has been grabbing a lot of media attention and backing from high profile investors thanks largely to its focus on delivering an excellent customer experience.
Though it only sells groceries Redmart describes itself as a ‘technology company focused on retail.’
The founders hope to dominate ecommerce in Singapore by creating a best-in-class operations and logistics network, in much the same way that Amazon has done elsewhere.
I’ll take a more in-depth look at the website UX in a future post, but for now here’s a look at some of the features that contribute to Redmart’s customer experience…
Free and same day delivery
Delivery costs $7, which seems a bit steep to me, but if you spend more than $75 then delivery is free.
An additional selling point is that customers can opt for same-day delivery if they order before 10am.
Nominated delivery slots
As a pureplay online retailer Redmart’s only physical customer touchpoint is on delivery of orders.
Consequently it puts huge emphasis on getting fulfilment right and ensuring its customers always have a great experience.
CEO Richard Egan III said that though the company was initially planning to rely on third-party logistics firms, it soon became apparent that the company would need to own the last mile to ensure an excellent customer experience.
As well as designing and optimising its own warehouse, Redmart created its own app for delivery drivers called Delivery Buddy.
It acts as a satellite navigation system and also updates in real-time so drivers can be notified if a customer won’t be in to accept their delivery.
You can read more detail about Redmart’s fulfilment operation in this interview on Trade Gecko.
Shoppers can nominate a two-hour delivery slot between 10am and 10pm seven days a week.
Many major grocery retailers have a mobile app so this is nothing new, but it definitely helps to improve the customer experience.
Redmart has both iOS and Android apps, and though I haven’t used the app myself I have seen screenshots that were pleasing on the eye.
The apps also store the customer’s account details so they can make an order using a one-click payment method. How’s that for convenience?
Redmart customers can access a list of all the items they have previously purchased from the site, which is conveniently called ‘My List’.
This makes re-ordering easy, but also acts as customer retention tool.
Customers are sent email reminders when it’s time to restock each item so they never run out.
It’s intended to make customer’s lives easier and make grocery shopping more convenient, though there is the danger that these messages will become annoying if they’re not carefully monitored.
As a sweeping generalisation, I’d say that pureplay online retailers tend to be a step ahead of multichannel retailers when in comes to customer analytics.
The reason for this is that the website is their only opportunity to observe customer behaviour, plus CRO takes a higher priority as it’s the only opportunity to make a sale.
Redmart creates highly targeted, relevant offers by combining demographic information with on-site and purchase behaviour data.
This is good for customers as personalisation improves the customer experience, but it also means that Redmart’s suppliers can achieve greater ROI on their marketing activities.
Much of what Redmart offers is actually fairly common by UK standards, which perhaps shows how mature our ecommerce market is compared to Singapore.
I would expect other grocery retailers in Singapore to already be offering services like nominated delivery, shopping lists and personalised offers, so to be honest it comes as some surprise that they are seen as part of Redmart’s USP.
I’ll do a more in-depth site review next week to see if Redmart is ahead of the game in terms of UX.