How one online Supermarket wins on Customer Experience

Sep 23, 2015

While sometimes it seems like ‘Customer Experience’ is the new buzz-phrase du jour, its importance cannot be underestimated in the digital world. Living in a digital world where many regularly use multiple devices throughout the day, we can usually find substitutes when a brand hasn’t made us happy

Last year I moved to an area of a large metropolis where there isn’t a regular-sized supermarket nearby – there are lots of minimarts (which I don’t like). For me, part of the glory of living in a big city with efficient public transit is not being reliant on a car. And while I could use the hourly car rentals available, I don’t.  With everything unpacked, I decided to brave my way to the supermarket on the public transit with my IKEA buggy. This was turned out to be a ‘customer experience’ I did wish to repeat. First off there is nothing aesthetically pleasing about this supermarket, the layout makes little sense to me, and well there is only so much one person can carry. Not being easily deterred I made a few more attempts before becoming fed up and trying different online supermarket services instead. 

I won’t bore you with reviews of all the services I’ve tried, but I’ll tell you what the good and bad experiences have been  which led to me hedging my bets on one company’s delivery membership.

The experience of letting someone pick your items.

Most of us go through the supermarket using our senses to look at, touch, and smell to decide if something fits our diet, is ripe, is high enough quality and has an expiration date that makes sense – amongst many other things. A big transition in the customer experience of shopping online is giving up a lot of that – and simply selecting the item you want. Here are some experiences I’ve had from different services:

1. I remember the first substituted item I received: I’d ordered a low fat/calorie microwave lasagne (back in my single days!); the substitute had double the calories! No thank you.  The vendor credited my account for the cost and I heated it up and gave it to a homeless person.

 2. I ordered 3 types of protein and received packages that collectively expired in two days. Yuck.

3. I had a driver show up with the delivery 30 minutes late and then trot off to inspect my garden. (Any guesses why he was late?)

4. After several attempts with the online service of a higher end supermarket – I gave up because on every order I had items that were missing – meaning they were in inventory when I ordered and not available when my order was picked. Seems like a big IT failure to me!

5. On occasion from one supermarket, I truly felt like the person picking my groceries had been directed to give us the fattiest meat, the unripe bananas, the carton of eggs with one broken, and a leaky bottle of milk. Seriously every time I felt I was throwing away money.

Now, that’s just the delivery part, but the ordering part online or via an app always seems to take too long. Most vendors let you pick a delivery slot which is held for one hour. The search is so annoying I’ve tweeted online supermarkets asking about products I know they sell but can’t find. I’ve honestly receive replies with product codes! Sometimes the search results are completely nonsensical. Then there is the wonky navigation that makes me only want to use search.  And after I’ve taken too long navigating my way through the site, the customer experience often takes yet another nose dive when I realize the online checkout process is worse than in store! No, it’s not the candy or the lines at the checkout; it’s that most of these sites try to sell you way too much when you’re trying to check-out! There is a good premise for having this but nobody has a ‘skip this and go straight to checkout’ approach.

Why I chose to hedge my bet on one company.

Out of all the services I found one that focuses on improving the customer experience! Here’s why they win:

1. Drivers are always nice and always on-time unless there is an extenuating reason to which you’ll be notified and asked if you need to reschedule delivery.

2. The range of items is extraordinary with a great range of prices.

3. You can create lists of things you regularly need and add things to your ‘favorites’ list

4. You can shop on the web, tablet or app – and you can easily switch between devices.

5. The navigation is simple.

6. Relevant offers and items are suggested much like on Amazon.

7. If an item in your basked has a multi-buy offer you’ll be reminded during the checkout.

8. Items are delivered (usually) separated into bags which make sense (freezer, cupboard, fresh produce, etc.)

9. You get a delivery notice which advises you of your driver’s name, truck color, license plate, delivery time and you are advised if any items are missing or substituted. When the delivery arrives you can refuse the substitute.

10. The service is just outstanding. Your driver and customer service staff always makes sure you are valued whether it is through refunds after delivery, a smile at the door, whatever...and as I discovered the other day, they are very social indeed.

It’s not just the product or service that makes this a winner:

  • Multi-device support
  • Easy Navigation
  • Inventory is almost always accurate
  • Customer support is available by phone, online chat, Twitter, and email
  • Email delivery time eventually adapts to typical email open time
  • Content is personalized
  • Search results make sense
  • Payment process is quick, very secure and easy

This company has a loyal customer because through their services, products and technology, they’ve built trust. Is the customer experience you deliver as good as it could be?