Flexible and scalable solutions for 21st Century grocery shopping

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated growth in online grocery sales, as grocery retailers realise having a digital presence for online ordering and delivery services is now critical to stay afloat.

Recent data from Nielsen Homescan reports Australian online grocery sales have increased dramatically (by 45 per cent) compared to annual online growth of 34 per cent during Q4 2019, as shoppers look to limit their exposure to large crowds in-store.

Addressing the need for Australian grocery retailers to implement scalable online commerce solutions, commercetoolswhitepaper aids their transition toward new omnichannel business models, while also adapting to massive fluctuations in shopper demand.

Covid-19 an opportunity for scalable solutions 

Before Covid-19, seasonal celebrations like the Christmas season and other public holidays meant grocery retailers had to manage peaks in customer demand. However, panic buying and empty shelves during Covid-19 has exposed how quickly and easily our food supply can reach its limits or even collapse and has put the spotlight on e-commerce platforms that aren’t built to scale. 

Only recently, Woolworths and Coles experienced online delivery shutdowns due to frenzied consumer purchasing, and both had to rapidly scale networks to prevent further outages. 

According to McKinsey, we’re seeing an acceleration of trends that already existed before the crisis, and online delivery’s volume increasing by the same amount in eight weeks as it had over the entire previous decade, is just one example of that. 

This highlights the critical need for grocery retailers to focus on expanding digital commerce capabilities, whether that be kickstarting the shift towards online or scaling an existing solution. 

Headless architecture for unstoppable digital commerce

Enter headless commerce, a concept pioneered by commercetools that enables fast and flexible software for retailers to iterate and launch faster with catalogue management features that make quick pivots possible. 

By separating the front and backend of the customer experience without causing disruption, headless opens up new possibilities for personalisation, allowing grocery retailers to serve up more compelling online experiences tailored to the tastes and preferences of their shoppers.  

In 2019, Nuts.com, an online business selling the highest quality nuts and pantry staples, adopted this type of headless approach for a more resilient platform that would link its B2B, B2C and wholesale divisions. The transition provided Nuts.com with the flexibility and adaptability to meet the modern customer’s consumption demands, while setting the company for its future business needs. 

Creating an integrated online marketplace

Increasingly, retailers are implementing omnichannel architecture to create interactive experiences, personalised content and transaction processing seamlessly across all channels. In 2018, commercetools helped REWE, the leading German online retailer for fresh food, in expanding its online grocery shop to include an online marketplace. 

The project involved integrating partners, products and processes to create a unified experience for suppliers, to adequately address market needs. REWE has since seen rapid growth in its number of partners, products and online sales.

Another example of rapidly expanding digital commerce is REWE’s acceleration of new pick-up stations in response to the pandemic. Working with commercetools, REWE, expanded from approximately 500 shops where customers were able to collect online orders to approximately 1200 pick-up stations in May, far exceeding the goal of 1000 stations by the end of this year. 

There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to e-commerce – the right fit requires analysis of existing environments, along with exploration of strategic long-term objectives. Through the pandemic, however, Australian grocery retailers operating monolithic commerce systems have been forced to re-examine how they engage customers and are quickly realising how headless architecture can help achieve a seamless online shopping experience.


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