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Of the 30 top retailers audited, only 21 had any form of search filtering enabling attribute-based searches (such as “gluten-free” and “keto”). Those that did offer filtering capability missed including 80% of the most commonly-searched attributes in their filters.

Use Smarter Product Data to Improve the Grocery E-Commerce Shopper Experience for Competitive Advantage

Posted November 24, 2020

The number of consumers in the U.S. who are shopping based on personal need-states such as diets, allergies, and health-related wellness preferences has risen dramatically over the last few years. Today, an estimated 200 million Americans follow some type of health and wellness program, and an estimated 180 million Americans have food allergies that affect the way they shop. And 55% of shoppers now say allergies or intolerances affect how they shop, up from 44% in 2018. 

The industry has seen a dramatic shift from brand loyalty to personal priority loyalty. According to OneSpace, 81% of grocery searches on Amazon are unbranded. Today’s shoppers are no longer satisfied with products that are misaligned with their values and needs. 

Whether it’s fair trade, cruelty-free, heart smart, gluten-free, or any other attribute related to consumer need-states, shoppers are searching for products and buying them differently today. And with access to a nearly infinite array of products through dozens of prominent online retailers, they have plenty of options. Let’s look closer at the state of today’s online grocery customer experience and how retailers can leverage data and technology to gain a competitive advantage. 

The State of the E-Commerce Grocery Shopper Experience

Retailers, on the whole, are failing to respond to online shopping trends. In a recent audit of the 30 top e-commerce retailers, we found that shoppers who are searching for products to meet specific dietary, medical, allergen, and value-based needs are presented with sparsely-stocked “digital aisles” on most e-commerce retail sites.

Of the 30 top retailers audited, only 21 had any form of search filtering enabling attribute-based searches (such as “gluten-free” and “keto”). Those that did offer filtering capability missed including 80% of the most commonly-searched attributes in their filters. As a result, retailer websites failed to return an average of 92% of the products in their assortment that qualified based on the term the customer searched.

Of the 30 top retailers audited, only 21 had any form of search filtering enabling attribute-based searches (such as “gluten-free” and “keto”). Those that did offer filtering capability missed including 80% of the most commonly-searched attributes in their filters.

Additionally, the chart to the right identifies the 25 consumer food and beverage need states and preferences based on the highest organic search volume. For each attribute, we uncovered the percentage of audited retailers with the advanced filter present as well as the average percent of missing products that qualify. 

For example, 68% of retailers include a Gluten Free filter, yet on average 44% of qualifying products fail to be returned. Additionally, the attribute “fat free” is present at 40% of retailers, but on average those retailers fail to return 86% of qualifying products. Or take Atkins, which just made it into the top 25, yet no retailers include an advanced filter for the Atkins today.

The Solution: Leverage Data and Technology

The data shows that retailers need to adapt to how the modern consumer searches for products. Specifically, they must change how they’re handling search, taxonomy, and product detail page content and provide the attribute-based search filter functionality that consumers expect to return quality results for any given search. 

We have more product and shopper data available today than ever before. And thanks to modern technology, this data can be used to allow customers to find what they’re looking for quickly. Let’s examine what you can do with a combination of data and technology.

Because few retailers are taking advantage of this data and technology, you have an opening to gain a competitive advantage over others. As online shopping continues to become more popular, you’ll be established as the go-to retailer your customers can trust for products that match their needs and preferences. Take action to improve your online customer experience, the time is now. 

Read Empty Aisles: The Grocery Shoppability Audit to see key research findings and learn how, by implementing effective product attribute-based search filter functionality, you can improve your customer experience and gain a competitive advantage.

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