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How to Replace Instacart With an Alternative Solution?

Are you currently using Instacart and need to find a more profitable alternative solution?  You have options.

When the pandemic started all Grocers had to adjust how they did business, especially with eCommerce. As pickup and delivery grew with those online orders so did your bottlenecks in picking and fulfillment operations. Like a lot of other grocers, you probably turned to Instacart for your online offering because it was turnkey and did not take a long time to get in place. You could solve an unexpected problem quickly.

Now that you have had time to settle into using Instacart for the past year or two, you have realized that the price you must pay, up to 10% per transaction, is not something you can afford to keep doing long term, especially as online sales have stayed a bigger part of your business. The real question now that you are looking at your “options” where do you start?

The good news is you do not have to build it yourself as there are affordable options. Yes, we know that establishing another online solution does demand some thought, planning, and greater commitment from your team more than just outsourcing but let’s talk about how you should go about investigating and planning for making that switch from Instacart.

First, determine the strategy you want for your digital experience

There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to your customer relationships. Making all those parts work together to create a seamless customer experience is as important as ever to build greater customer loyalty and repeat customers. This is especially true when it comes to merging your physical and digital worlds. You also need to ensure “buy in” from all departments and store leadership when it comes to execution of good strategy so do not overlook aligning expectations, training and possibly hiring new resources that have experience.

Second, define your needs, wants, desires and metrics to measure

Some of these online tools are new and if you are on Instacart, you have what they gave you.  It would be a good exercise to also think about all metrics you want to measure by.  Frankly, if you have been using Instacart, you probably do not have the access to all the data that could be helpful with your customers and opportunities to enhance their experience. Establishing KPIs that are focused on your customer experience regardless of where they buy (online or in-store) is important.  Accounting for the fact they could (or do) change where they buy during your relationship with them is important when establishing the ideal customer experience.  If you have or build an eCommerce department, there are important elements like merchandising, operations, logistics, POS and customer support that cross over to digital as well and their experience and expertise should be included beyond just your physical stores.

Third, look for the right partners for your organization

We are probably past the days of trying to do this “on your own” with your own solution.  What you need is to find a partner that understands Grocery (this is key) and has a platform that can handle the shopping behavior, inventory, store planograms, the SKU volume you have and bring additional customer experience enhancements (real-time communications, easy substitutions, digital merchandising).  One that is cloud based and also included customer-based features such as shopping by dietary, lifestyle, one click recipes, smart upsells and promotions based on these items and past purchases.  The ideal solution is about tomorrow, next year and five years from now so having a platform that can scale as your needs change and mature is important.

Most importantly to this upgrade is your migration plan from your current solution – make sure they will map out this plan as to how your organization will get started, implement a “proof of concept” and roll out a full implementation which can incorporate enhanced features such as picking and fulfillment all the way through curbside and last mile solutions.

Fourth, start slowly and scale based on what you learn

The crucial piece here is LEARN. There are mistakes that will be made as you implement these features and functions to your customer relationships. Why? Because every company is different and even partners that have done this before cannot predict everything about your culture and structure.  We have found that You cannot solve all your possible issues before you experience them firsthand nor always in advance based on what others have done. You also need to get statistically relevant data. What happens over the first 90 days cannot be relied upon to be 100% accurate forever.  Look at all your customer orders from weekly regular customers, look at each store’s performance, find your ideal metrics based on model behaviors, increased basket sizes, customer responses and the adjust your training, layouts, equipment and systems based on this data continuously.

Finally, always evaluate and evolve…

Customers will continue to evolve with their expectations, on demand services and ease of use features. Do not try to change everything at once, but study performance and behavior from profitable customers and orders and as you build solid data over time. You can make more sophisticated changes as your digital transformation becomes more complete. Continually monitor behavior, features they use, productivity you have and make tweaks along the way. Once you get to a year with your new platform, analyze how far you have come and visioncast for what you might need in a year or three years from now and incorporate that vision to continually improve.

We know the grocery industry and we know it looks a lot different than it did before the pandemic.  It is still evolving, and experts forecast digital to surpass 20% of your revenues by 2025. That means you need the right solution for you based on your needs and a platform that can provide you with the flexibility and scalability to aid you in continual change. Making that investment now will only help you do it better and more profitable as that percentage continues to climb.

Stor.ai would be happy to help you with this journey. Please contact us to learn more about our customer first digital transformation solution.