Predictive Search and Online Grocery Shopping – Make it easy on your customer!

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We’ve been working lately with a lot of different pieces within the grocery industry and there’s a lot of parts and pieces to that industry as you can imagine, but when it really comes down to, in the end, is the end user – the person that’s out there looking to buy the groceries that they need for their home or their business, whether that’s a restaurant or whether that’s the University cafeteria or Area Hospital. In the grocery business, probably more than in anything else, there’s this need to get very granular about the things that I that I can eat and the things that I want to eat the things that I wanted and then things that I shouldn’t eat at all, right. I absolutely can’t have if I have a raspberry. I’m going to swell up, my tongue going to get large and I’m going to die. If I eat a peanut or something like that, the same.

There’s that component of it, but then it also goes into the preference component of it, which is I only prefer to eat name-brand foods. I don’t want to eat any off-brand foods. It could be, I have a specific diet and I am trying to keep it, whether that’s Keto or South Beach or something else. I want foods that fit and match my particular diet. Other things that I might be looking for, are ethnic cuisine. There’s a tremendous amount of both SKUs and tremendous amount of options within each item of the foods I may want. There are items I want to actually purchase and then, there’s preferences.

So as a consumer I have a tiered search approach, where I might have a very high level of ‘don’t show me anything at all with peanuts’. And then once I get those and I pull in a certain item, I might say, okay now show me the vitamin with the highest amount of vitamin C as I’m trying to get a whole bunch of vitamin C out of my nutrition right now. You start drilling down further and further with each step of your search or within each item group or subset that you built what facilitate your purpose. Well, you can’t do that inside of just a pure e-commerce system.

What we found is that a lot of grocers have built their own homegrown PIM or product information management system and even that has now gotten to the point where they can’t really manipulate it the way that they need to, they can’t fit products into another category because when they built it, they thought they’d only need three and now they found out they need 20 categories. So, it’s either rewrite the whole thing or find something out there that will actually work in a way where they can go in and they can create new categories. Not just now, not just that 20, but the hundred and a thousand that they might need in the future to really deliver this search capability. The other thing that I think is really important in that industry is a lot of times when I’m doing my looking through for groceries and items like that. I’m doing it from my cell phone. I’m not doing it from my laptop; the mobile devices have become far more important as sort of the main interface and now they are pretty critical.

On that note, first of all, most searches on the consumer side are clearly over 70 percent on mobile. People are using your mobile app as a grocer. They’re using it inside of the store as they’re looking around. And what you wind up with is a very limited amount of real estate.

So the photos and the accuracy of search is even more important because you have a limited ability to sort through and see what it is you’re doing. Honestly, most data in grocery is incomplete. It’s rather short. It doesn’t have the description necessary. And as we move toward the things we are talking about, the amount of information needed, ingredients or type of diet, but also the future of preferences, the accumulated need of data is exploding and therefore what you find out is you have to really be able to control your data, display it properly and find it properly.

The issue and the competitive advantage right now of e-commerce, given the number of SKUs, the number of items, number of stores that groceries, face, it is search – the ability to give the customer what they want. A visit to the store, aside from home delivery and all the rest of them, a visit to the stores often predicated on a favorite item, right? I can pick up milk anywhere. I can pick up, you know a variety of staples anyone but if I can only find one thing at one store, you are engendering loyalty and being able to find out is absolutely critical to doing that.