Applying the personal concierge approach to online grocery shopping

04Feb10

Want to get more people to buy groceries online? One of the major obstacles is translating the mental or written shopping list from your local store into a list of products that the online grocer carries. How can the website make this easier? Simple: hire personal concierges to kickstart the process.

The approach is actually quite elegant. Start by providing a way for new customers to scan and upload their grocery receipts into the website. Then, have members of your staff translate those into an online shopping cart, complete with personalized tips for saving money and notes on substitutions. Finally, schedule a live chat session to help orient the customer to their online grocery list. Compared to making customers hunt and peck for the products on their own, this method is bound to create a huge increase in average ticket and repeat business.

But wouldn’t this be incredibly expensive? Not necessarily. You could limit the service to those people who already spend a pre-determined amount of money on groceries each month, or use a service like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to farm out the repetitive parts of the process. In the end, you should easily be able to cover the cost of the personalized concierge service for each new customer with only a few months’ worth of their spending. And if you do it right, those customers should be loyal and profitable for a whole lot longer than that.



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