What is the Future of Transparency in an Omnichannel World?
“When digital transformation is done right, it’s like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, but when done wrong, all you have is a really fast caterpillar.” — George Westerman | Principal Research Scientist with the MIT Sloan Initiative on the Digital Economy
Transparency bar is set
The FMI and Label Insight Transparency Imperative report has clearly demonstrated that demand for more information in the grocery shopping experience is taking off. Almost all shoppers these days require more information in the shopping experience, and there’s been a 90% increase in shoppers who would switch brands based on level of transparency (74% in 2018 vs. 39% in 2016) which seems to indicate that the demand is growing in distribution and in intent.
The online, omnichannel future is only accentuating this demand. The report states that online shoppers are more likely than general shoppers to say that it’s important for brands to be more transparent, and they are more likely to have product information influence their buying habits. This is not surprising when we consider the potential for product data to influence the digital user experience, as discussed in "Grocery E-commerce 2.0" and "Key to search is dynamic taxonomy".
When the label is not sufficient, online shoppers will look further for help. The most common way these shoppers do this is by doing research online. So it is not surprising that almost nine in ten of these shoppers are likely to say they would take advantage of the ability to access more information about a product in-store on their smartphone, with almost one-half very likely to do so.
These shoppers tend to be early adopters and are resetting the bar for entry when it comes to data transparency in an omnichannel world. Most important to these shoppers are ingredients and general nutrition facts, like general shoppers. But the online shoppers are more likely to find a whole range of other types of information important to them such as health benefits, ingredient sourcing information, dietary claims, manufactured process claims, allergens and product claims, to name a few. There’s a long tail of information needed to satisfy the tech-savvy online shopper.
Online big spenders
The report points out that the rise of the online shopper represents an exciting opportunity for the industry. They tend to be more educated, higher-income household families. While Millennials are disproportionately shopping online, they do not even make up one-half of all online shoppers (39 percent). GenX (30 percent) and Boomers (23 percent) also make up a good portion of online shoppers.
The good news is that the shopping profile of online shoppers is a unique and robust one. Online shoppers spend much more on groceries than the typical shopper, $149 per week. Even with their online purchases, almost two-thirds make two or more trips to the brick-and-mortar grocery store each week. However, they tend to be more discerning as indicated by the fact that they shop around too, as a majority have visited three or more brick-and-mortar stores in the past 30 days to supplement their online grocery purchases. This could lead to opportunities to capture shopper loyalty through enhanced online experiences, primarily powered by transparency.
“We should no longer be talking about ‘digital marketing’ but marketing in a digital world.” - Keith Weed | Unilever, 2015
Transparency powers the new search
The online shopper demands more information in a more convenient way. There is a long tail of product data and is required to service this demand. About one-half of online shoppers say that various aspects of transparency are easier online than in a physical store, including learning about a product’s story, shopping for a specific diet or allergy, knowing what ingredients are in a product, and knowing a product’s nutritional information.
Most online shoppers have higher expectations of transparency when shopping online. Three-fourths of online shoppers agree they want more product information when shopping online than if they were shopping in a physical store. Further, less than three in ten online shoppers say they completely trust information from online retailers.
All of this points to the early-adopter online shopper driving the need for an enhanced user experience across online grocery shopping. More demand for transparency will drive the industry to respond with more and better data, and this will power new ways in which that data can be accessed, filtered, and leveraged to find products better.