As we live in a technology-driven world where services are available at the click of a button, improvements in digital platforms have changed people’s shopping behavior. A shift in behavior towards supermarket online shopping was also stimulated by recurrent lockdowns caused by the pandemic over the past two years. Nevertheless, it is important to note that both conventional supermarkets and e-commerce have their perks and their disadvantages.

You can personally experience every single product in a traditional supermarket, as well as bargain with the storekeeper. On the other hand, eCommerce provides you with a convenient method of buying products at great discounts. Nowadays, with the widespread use of the internet and the advancement of digital platforms, many consumers prefer to buy products online, and hence it has been observed that most supermarket revenues reach a plateau within just three years. 

To overcome this, the supermarket store owner can either expand their chain of stores or go omnichannel to increase sales. Despite the competition between offline and online shopping, the latter is slowly and gradually overtaking the former. It is undeniable that day-to-day rising internet access and the cost reduction because of discounts have created an advantage for online supermarkets over offline businesses.

Challenges of Offline Supermarket Store

With so many options and price comparisons available online, why would a consumer go out to shop when they can compare products across several platforms with just a few clicks? The multichannel buying experiences provided by the online mode give businesses an advantage that is missing in the offline supermarket store. Online stores offer seamless customer experiences, as well as easy payment methods, making them superior to the conventional offline model. 

Today’s customers are very demanding when it comes to the variety of the same things; some want local products and others want branded items; offline retailers sometimes cannot provide the customized variety. Online stores, however, can offer customized variety. Today’s generation is much more aware and wants to know everything about the products, including ingredients, preservatives, shelf life, etc. These details are available on websites most of the time, however, with offline shopping, customers know very few details about the products.

Future of Online Supermarket Store

With this hectic lifestyle, people have less time to go outside and hence they prefer to shop online. The offline mode still has its advantages, and we cannot ignore them. The vast majority of people still prefer to shop at conventional supermarkets. Therefore, the best customer experience can be achieved through a combination of digital platforms and offline modes. It is the omnichannel model that can provide the best results as well as efficiency. However, having the right balance between an online store and an integrated in-store visit facility as well as proper price management is fundamental. 

When combined with the conventional retail model, online deliveries enable retailers to have more availability, drive traffic and sales, and integrate digital touch points. As a result of an omnichannel retail model, customers are more satisfied and there are more channels for them to purchase goods and services. For example, a digital app coupled with conventional supermarkets transforms the brick-and-mortar business model by removing lines, cashiers, and the entire checkout process. As a result of IoT and sensors, the app tracks when customers take or return something on the shelf and update the cost of that item in their account accordingly. By connecting the online and offline experiences, customers’ data can also be collected more efficiently. 

No doubt, the emergence of the eCommerce industry has changed both the experience and expectations of customers. Although local brick-and-mortar shops have a solid foothold, an online business has also cemented its place. To make supermarket shopping convenient, supermarkets must improve their functioning, which can be achieved by an omnichannel approach. A customer can choose whether to do their shopping in-store or online under the omnichannel model. For some products, they may plan a home delivery and for others, an in-store visit. Combining online convenience with offline benefits would make the supermarket business very successful.


Rise of Gen Z & Millennial Consumers

An e-supermarket offers customers a unique, amazing, and seamless shopping experience. Due to the convenience of ordering online while at home or at work, e-supermarkets have become very popular among the young, affluent, and urban generations. In terms of CAGR, online shopping is expected to grow at a rate of 23.7% over the next five years according to Orian Research. Year on year, this trend is only increasing with the rise of Gen Z and Millennial consumers. Their preferred way to spend time on weekends is to pursue their hobbies rather than shop for essentials in a supermarket. For instance, with a dark grocery store, they can easily buy any grocery in minutes.

Convert your Supermarket to “Dark Stores”

Don’t get confused about dark stores meaning, Dark stores combine retail and eCommerce, offering excellent customer services, such as same-day delivery or in-store pickup. The product can be purchased on the web or via mobile apps, and it will be delivered to the customer’s doorstep. Supermarkets are converting to dark stores, hence in addition to being sellable in-store, your products are also available to customers residing near your store location. As a result, you can sell “in-store” inventory “online” more quickly and achieve a higher turnaround rate. Having a supermarket dark store allows you to deliver orders the next morning even if they are received at night.

Excellent customer experience for a competitive edge

Your e-supermarket’s success depends on acquiring and retaining customers. As online selling has skyrocketed the demand for a seamless shopping experience, one should always ensure the customer has a seamless and convenient shopping experience. Customers will return to your store regularly if you offer a teleservice for customer support, analyze their reviews, and resolve their problems as soon as possible. By offering loyalty points or discounts to your regular customers and delivering within an assured time frame, you will be able to engage more buyers to your dark store. The customer-oriented product classification, loyalty programs such as club cards, store design, understanding what the customers want, and giving them what they value are all important. A user-friendly layout is used both in the physical stores and on the website to ensure that consumers can find the products and services they are looking for quickly and easily! All these features can be offered by the supermarket dark store to have an upper edge over their competitors.

Adopt systems to convert to “Dark Store”

The aim of your dark store eCommerce should be to serve the customers convenience and quality on a single platform for which you need to adopt a few elements such as:

  • Diversified product classification is vital so that an array of other products and services can be offered to the customer.
  • Dark stores cannot succeed without effective logistics, supply chain strategy, and inventory management.
  • Any dark store website should be easily navigable and have visually appealing displays with a variety of filters to make it as efficient as possible.
  • Supermarket dark stores are successful if they use the right software, for example, Omniture Site Catalyst for web analytics and Hotjar for screen recording and heatmap tools.
  • It is necessary to implement structured data analysis to handle dynamic products, stock levels, service levels, and process alignments.
  • For dark stores to operate, oversee, and manage effectively, order management systems (OMS) and auto-replenishment systems (ARS) are necessary.

About YRC Consultants 

Wondering what are dark stores? Whether you’re starting your own supermarket dark store or you’ve already started one and want it to be more profitable and sustainable, you can always take expert advice. You Retail Coach (YRC) is a reputed consultancy firm dedicated to helping you successfully run your online supermarket business. We also have in-hand experience in helping various supermarkets to come up with successful dark stores. Be it layout planning, SOPs, technical aspects, robust software, website design, etc, we are there to guide you at every step. We have the best team of consultants to assist you with customer retention and acquisition, IT services, and logistics. Our goal is to bring consistency to your business so that your customers can enjoy a seamless, hassle-free shopping experience.