Consumers may have tried contactless shopping for everything from groceries to cars in 2020 because they felt safe. They may have become addicted to digital conveniences after vaccines became widely available. They may still be using them for both reasons as the COVID-19 omicron variant is proliferating and many are concerned about safety again.
Whatever the reason, contactless shopping remains a priority for some shoppers, whether it’s for autos, groceries, fast food or supermarket merchandise, digital experience leaders from Instacart, Target, General Motors and McDonald’s said during the CES 2022 conference committee on e-commerce trends. . However, some consumers would like to take back their pre-2020 shopping methods. Edward Comer, chief digital officer of General Motors, said that successful companies will have to absorb all of them into their e-commerce operations.
For GM, this means that customers usually arrive at the auto dealership more educated than ever, with a web search of the cars they’re interested in. It also means that some will want immediate gratification and walk away with a new car – so when the automaker can prepare documentation digitally in advance, it improves the customer experience.
“I think you’ll notice that a lot is still happening at the agency,” Comer said, “but people will choose to buy and interact the way they want to — I think that’s what we’re going to see.”
Tarek Hassan, McDonald’s chief marketing officer, said McDonald’s has been building a contactless delivery infrastructure for decades through its small windows. Operations issues introduced in 2020 were maintaining speed, accuracy and convenience in order delivery, despite staff shortages and supply chain disruptions.
On the marketing side, engaging customers digitally to get them to order food while they drive has become the problem to be solved. Part of McDonald’s strategy for building engagement involves influencer marketing meals “collaborating,” or collaborating with celebrities. To date, the list includes such famous musicians as Saweetie, Travis Scott, J Balvin, and BTS. On the tech side, McDonald’s also launched the MyMcDonald’s Rewards loyalty program last July, which the company said has attracted tens of millions of customers so far. When loyalists buy food, they collect points that can be cashed in for free gifts.
“We’re still doing some great work, unlocking what people love about this food but with digital [channels] And interact around that digital number to connect with them in very different ways.”
Jordan Jewell, an IDC analyst, said celebrity-branded meals and campaigns reveal a shift in marketers’ thinking. Advertising and marketing budgets revolve around events like the Super Bowl or the holidays. Now, more sophisticated data and analytics can deliver personalized offers to individual customers, and these new campaigns don’t need a special event to activate.
“It’s about flipping the mindset of who you’re advertising with — focusing more on the person, the consumer or the business customer,” Jewell said. “Advertising has historically had very questionable returns, especially on more analog channels. Digital is more interactive. You can actually see the response when you invest more.”
Instacart, the goal is to unlock digital growth
Instacart sales are up 229% in 2020 compared to 2019; The site handles 1 in 5 e-commerce grocery orders in the United States. Holding this land has become a top priority for the company, said Asha Sharma, chief operating officer of Instacart. In 2021, the goal was to have a customer hand delivered within two hours anywhere in North America. This year, the company aims to reduce that to 15-30 minutes. It will require new apps that enable pre-orders, catering software, automation and payments. It will also require new logistical operations including what Sharma calls Instacart “mini fulfillment centers” in grocery retail stores.
Building the infrastructure to meet these new goals may be a challenge, but it likely won’t be as difficult as the explosive growth of 2020.
“I think we always build the plane while it’s flying, and we love that,” Sharma said. “Our business has been severely affected by the COVID virus, and that can happen on a daily basis. A storm can happen on a week to week basis. Business varies every day.”
Asha SharmaOperations Manager, Instacart
Target, which has built its own IT infrastructure and many applicationsAnd It reconstructed its digital experiences in the months leading up to 2020. This technology fueled growth measured in billions in 2020 as competitors played catch-up. Cara Sylvester, Target’s executive vice president, marketing director and digital director, said her digital marketing strategy has in recent years transitioned from an episodic one to a more complex, always-on campaign. One example: In the past, Target may have launched campaigns for Black History Month. Now, Target highlights Black-owned brands year-round on its apps and websites.
“While [diversity, equity and inclusion] It’s always been a part of our agenda at Target, I’d like to tell you [that] Digital acceleration has expanded our reach and power to drive positive change.”
Like McDonald’s, Target launched a loyalty program, Target Circle, in 2019. It gives customers a chance to earn credit toward merchandise as well as have a voice in guiding Target’s local giving.
IDC’s Jewell said such programs are interesting, but what is likely to be more effective in building business on the e-commerce side are programs that attract more of the company’s most die-hard fans.
“When I think about McDonald’s or Starbucks and how they invest in digital loyalty programs, I kind of wonder, what’s the next step in that?” Jewell said. “How do you build these digital programs for less loyal customers? How are they going to get new customers, because that’s what they really need if they want to keep expanding digitally?”
Don Fluckinger covers enterprise content management, customer relationship management, marketing automation, e-commerce, customer service, and enabling technologies for TechTarget.