To increase engagement and boost return visits by encouraging shopper feedback and conversation, word of mouth is probably the most powerful marketing tool of all, and digital merchandising hugely expands this opportunity. Give your shoppers opportunities on social media pages like Facebook and Pinterest to:

  • Post reviews, recommendations and tips
  • Rate content and products
  • Share their experiences
  • Build awareness for events, new products and specials

Social media pages are also places to let shoppers know what’s happening in the deli and bakery. Hyper-local digital communities exist in many communities. Retailers should look for opportunities to take part in these.

Use purchase histories to personalize email and eReceipt offers. These are perfect opportunities to suggest “If you liked this, you may be interested in…”, to deliver relevant coupons and to point to special events that match the shopper’s interests.

Don’t underestimate the value of listening to your shoppers talk to each other about you. The post-purchase stage is the place to reinforce positive experiences and build momentum for the next round of purchases. Store websites and social media pages (especially Facebook and Pinterest) are powerful platforms for accomplishing this.

It’s been 35 years since Whole Foods Market opened its first supermarket in Austin, Texas (the company opened its first service deli case in 1988), and now Whole Foods has grown to 421 stores in North America and the United Kingdom. Co-CEO Walter Robb points out 90 million consumers in the US are reaching their peak earning over the next 20 years, a fact that is fueling tremendous capital investment in food. Being a solid corporate citizen is good business, especially to younger consumers. “The goal is to have your customers talking to your customers,” he says, “because they like what you stand for.”

Robb recognizes the arrival of “Big Food” in the media spotlight and how companies across the nation are scrambling to take steps to achieve “conscious capitalism,” or turning a profit while making a difference. This can mean everything from embracing sustainability to corporate responsibility.

“Every company is taking a step forward,” Robb says. “I’ve never seen anything like it in my 30-plus years in this business. There is a tremendous shift in how people are thinking about food, and the quality of food. Food safety. Climate change. I know it keeps me up at night because we sell a lot of food.”

Along a similar track, whether shoppers call it feel?good groceries or socially conscious shopping, a variety of Peapod’s virtual aisles are stocked with groceries that help make a difference for various causes. From Shedd Aquarium’s “Right Bite” program promoting sustainable seafood farming to Girl Scouts troops in Chicago and Indianapolis delivering Peapod donated groceries to local food banks, the nation’s leading online grocer finds numerous ways to give back.

“Peapod places a high value on supporting non?profit organizations throughout the year. Call it an honest, Midwestern value to always lend a hand,” said Tony Stallone, Peapod’s vice president of fresh markets.

Peapod now operates in Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Competitor AmazonFresh is coming on strong, with online purchasing and home delivery service now available in California, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and its home state of Washington. AmazonFresh offers same-day and early morning delivery of a broad selection of items, including fresh grocery and local products.

Most customers use the Doorstep Delivery option. With Doorstep Delivery, you choose a 3-hour time window that works best for your schedule -- you don't even have to be home. We will leave your items on your doorstep in temperature-controlled tote bags and pick them up with your next delivery. To be eligible for Doorstep Delivery, your driver must have unrestricted access to your doorstep without having to call you.

With Attended Delivery, shoppers select a 1-hour appointment when you will be home to receive the delivery. Some of the benefits of Attended Delivery are shorter 1-hour delivery windows, in-person delivery straight to your kitchen, no totes or other shipping supplies to store in your home, and delivery to buildings with secure entry or limited access.