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Delivery and Pick-up Service for Grocery Stores: A Guide to the Main Services

By Husain Sumra|Tuesday September 8, 2020

Small business grocers need to find ways to innovate. Online grocery sales reached a record high in April 2020, spending over $5 billion. To compete effectively, you need to think through delivery fees, whether to use personal shoppers, and pick-up and delivery offerings.

The key strategic question small grocery companies need to ask.

If your grocery company does not currently offer delivery services but you’re considering adding such services, you need to ask yourself how you want to provide this service to your customers. Do you want to invest in building your team of personal shoppers to deliver fresh produce and other products to customers? Alternatively, do you want to partner with an existing grocery pick-up and delivery service?

By building your service, you have full control over the customer experience. If customers have complaints or special requests, you can get that information quickly. If your grocery company already has a delivery vehicle, you may be able to get started quickly. However, there are downsides to building your own grocery delivery and pick-up service.

You need the management skills, social media and systems to keep fresh produce delivered on time. Additionally, you need to manage delivery costs and decide when to offer free delivery. If you want to provide a grocery delivery service quickly, building your own system from scratch will be time-consuming and resource-intensive. 

The faster strategy involves partnering with an existing pick-up and delivery service. These companies already have an established process to handle fresh produce and get it delivered on time to customers. That means you may not have to invest in additional equipment or hire personal shoppers on your payroll. The downside is that you will have less direct communication with the end customer. As a result, you need to find a way to monitor the quality of the service and make sure your standards are maintained.

Let’s assume you want a fast solution to offer grocery delivery to your customers. To make an informed choice, let’s take a look at some of the services available for grocery companies.

By the way, it’s smart to avoid relying on mobile apps entirely for your customer relationships. After all, 60% of customers prefer to pick up the phone when dealing with small businesses, according to Bright Local. In addition, utilizing mobile apps and phone orders means you need to make sure your small business is equipped to handle the additional volume of orders. There are a number of tools you can use to keep organized and productive including your small business phone system

Delivery and pick-up services for grocery stores.

We picked a few of the top-rated grocery delivery software companies to illustrate the options available to you.

1. Instacart

  • Fees: Your customers may receive free delivery depending on their order and membership status. 
  • Sign-up: Visit the company’s Partners page.

Established in 2012, Instacart is a large delivery service currently serving more than 30 U.S. states. The company has existing relationships with major grocery brands such as Kroger, Aldi, Sam’s Club, Publix, Costco and Sprouts Farmers Market. The service also provides alcohol delivery, which sets it apart from other pick-up and delivery services. 

2. Shipt

  • Fees: Your customers have two options. They can receive free delivery on orders over $35. Alternatively, they can pay $99 for unlimited grocery delivery for a year.
  • Sign Up: Visit Shipt’s partner page.

Shipt has a similar model to Instacart. It brings together personal shoppers, grocery stores and grocery buyers. The service launched in 2014, and it was acquired by Target in 2018. In terms of service coverage, Shipt covers more than 250 markets. By shopping online with Shipt, your customers will receive delivery in less than an hour.

3. Burpy

  • Fees: If your customers place a minimum order, currently set at $50, there is no service fee. Smaller orders are subject to a $4.99 delivery fee.
  • Sign-up: Contact the company.

If you run a grocery store in Texas, take a look at Burpy. The service is specialized in serving Texas locations such as Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin and Houston. If your customers want the evening service, the company provides deliveries up to 11 pm. According to the company’s frequently asked questions, customers cannot order alcohol and tobacco for delivery through the service.

4. Mercato

  • Fees: This service charges customers based on distance. The delivery fee ranges from $5 to $25.
  • Sign-up: Visit the company’s Become a Merchant page.

Focused on independent grocery stories, Mercato is an interesting option for small business grocery stores. In addition to helping you with grocery pick-up and delivery, there are other benefits. For example, your grocery store is added to the company’s online directory. That gives you more exposure than you would have otherwise. According to the company website, the average delivery radius is 10 miles, with an average order value of over $80. With a dozen orders per day, you could generate over $1,000 in daily revenue.

Keep improving your service: Monitoring Amazon Fresh and Walmart Grocery.

As customer expectations for grocery pick-up and delivery shift, it’s valuable to monitor those developments. Therefore, we suggest monitoring two of the largest companies in the online grocery delivery service market: Amazon Fresh and Walmart Grocery.

At a minimum, take a few minutes each month to visit their websites. Take note of which fresh foods they offer, which items they run out of, and their pricing. These insights will help you provide better grocery shopping service to your customers because small grocery companies can often make decisions more quickly than large corporations.

Get started by offering grocery delivery services now.

Every day your grocery store fails to offer pick-up and delivery service, you will lose ground to other companies. According to Super Market News, U.S. online grocery sales increased by 19% in 2019. In 2020, the projected growth rate is expected to be much higher. Before you close this article, pick one of the grocery delivery services covered and contact them. Ask questions about pricing, customer service, health and speed. Once you get that information, act quickly to get a service in place.

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Loyal customers are critical to business success because they tend to be a source of repeat business. According to The Loyalty Report 2018, “Loyalty programs that establish positive emotional connections with Members see 27% more of their Membership increasing their spend with the Brand.” This research tells us that building customer loyalty can lead to more spending.

Loyalty programs vs. improving customer experience: Designing your approach

There are different approaches to building customer loyalty. Some companies use loyalty program cards, bonus offers and other incentives. You might offer access to special deals like CVS or take 5% off the purchase price like Target. You might even give some or part of your product away for free, like airlines that provide free flights through their loyalty programs. What if your small business isn’t interested or able to offer these kinds of loyalty programs?

There is another way to encourage loyal customers to keep giving you repeat business. Gather customer feedback through a phone survey and then use that data to improve the customer experience. When customers see that the business owner has acted on their feedback, they may feel inspired to return to that business. That means more revenue for the bottom line. You just need a fast and straightforward way to conduct a customer satisfaction survey. That’s where a focused business phone survey comes in.

Why increasing customer loyalty with a phone survey is a good choice.

Organizing a customer satisfaction survey by phone offers notable advantages compared to other methods. While a net promoter survey can give you interesting data, there is no conversational element involved. Further, using the net promoter survey approach effectively requires a certain degree of specialized training in the net promoter methodology.

You might also consider online customer surveys. Surveying your email list or website is worth attempting. Depending on the size of your email list or website traffic, you might be able to get a large number of survey responses. The challenge with online customer surveys is that you will have to spend a lot of time reviewing the data to find insights. There is no way to ask a customer to clarify their survey responses or provide an example.

Conducting a customer satisfaction survey by phone gives you the best of both worlds. You can ask questions and get survey responses. However, you also have the opportunity to provide the human touch. For instance, you may hear a customer complain about a lost or delayed order. When you hear about a problem during a phone survey, you can gather all the necessary details to make the situation right with the customer.

How to increase customer loyalty with a phone survey step by step.

The following steps give you a starting point to create a simple customer satisfaction survey. Over the course of a month, you could gather a significant amount of insights to improve your customer service by calling five to 10 customers per day.

  1. Define your customer satisfaction survey goals.

Before calling a single customer, reflect on your business goals. Are you seeking to improve your profit margins? In that case, you may want to focus your survey on the customers that spend the most on your business. Finding ways to make high-spending customers content may give you an excellent return. Alternatively, you may decide to focus your survey project on whether your local SEO has attracted customers. 

  1. Write your customer satisfaction survey questions.

Now that you have clarity on your goals, it is time to write your questions. According to Survey Monkey, a survey software company, it is best to focus your survey on closed-ended questions. An example of a closed-ended question would be: “How many times have you bought from our business in the past 12 months?” However, this kind of question may not give you the ideas you need to improve the customer experience.

At the end of the survey, consider asking one or two open-ended questions to understand better what your customers like. Encourage customers to think creatively with a question like this: “If you could change anything in our business, what would you improve?”

Tip: Reduce your need for note-taking by using call recording, but make sure that you ask for permission first.

  1. Test the survey with a small group of customers.

With your list of customer satisfaction questions, make a few test phone calls to customers. The purpose of the test is to discover if any of the questions are unclear. If you receive confusing answers, revise the question to make them clearer.

  1. Train employees on how to gather survey responses.

Consider running a few training phone calls for your employees. Ask them to call you or other employees in a role-playing scenario. Making a few practice calls will help your employees become more familiar with the questions. Besides, practice phone surveys will help employees learn how to record survey responses accurately. Once the training is complete, give your staff a list of customers to call and let them get started.

  1. Review the survey responses for insights and follow up with customers.

After all of the survey responses are in, schedule time to review the results. In particular, look for patterns in the results. If a large number of people gave low scores to your website, you may need to make improvements. Also, review the survey responses received in the open-ended questions. You might be pleasantly surprised at what customers tell you.

  1. Follow up with customers after the survey when needed.

A phone survey lets you gather rich insights because you can quickly ask follow-up questions. However, merely gathering survey responses may not impress your customers very much. Instead, offer to refer problems to the business owner for improvement or offer to enter the respondent in a drawing for a gift card. That is a much more compelling improvement! By addressing problems and issues when they arise, you stand a much better chance of winning additional loyal customers.