Consumer interest in online grocery ordering is on the rise. A 2015 survey by Nielsen showed that one-quarter of global respondents are already ordering grocery items online for home delivery, and 55% say they are willing to use it in the future.
Wisconsin-based Woodman’s Markets, however, had relied solely on brick-and-mortar sales for its growth. The family owned grocery store started as a produce stand and has expanded to operate 16 high-volume, large-format stores in Wisconsin and northern Illinois.
While Woodman's did operate a web site, it didn't allow customers to place orders. The rise of online ordering and delivery, especially from giants such as Amazon, encouraged Woodman’s to look for an experienced solution provider to create a branded website that supported online orders and in-store pick up, and was easily accessible on mobile devices.
Woodman’s chose e-Commerce technology provider GrocerKey to create ShopWoodmans.com, providing customers with an online presence that retains the Woodman’s brand identity and provides omnichannel solutions.
In the first full month of operation after a September 2015 launch, Woodman’s experienced significant growth in online orders, including:
- 250% growth in online sales;
- Average online orders that were approximately 500% larger than the average in-store transaction; and
- More than 2,000 orders placed via mobile since the beta launch, accounting for more than $270,000 in revenue.
“We were one of the first going live with [an e-Commerce platform] in our area,” said Clint Woodman, VP of Woodman’s Markets. “We like to be ahead of the curve in that regard. GrocerKey has a lot of experience in the grocery market in Madison, Wis., where we are based. They understood our business.”
Single Store Serves As Fulfillment Hub
A main goal for Woodman’s was to be able to provide delivery and in-store pickups for online orders. The retailer chose its Madison location as the “hub” for these omnichannel offerings.
“We have three stores in the Madison area,” said Woodman. “We decided to base it out of one store and deliver [product] to the entire Madison area from that one store. That took a few months to get the equipment and everything set up. At the same time, we had to get our data systems synced up so [GrocerKey] could get the information on a daily basis. We were up and going in three to four months.”
GrocerKey worked with Woodman’s to establish criteria such as:
- Data feeds: In order to ensure that the web site reflected the retailer’s latest pricing and products, GrocerKey required several data feeds, including a master item file, pricing files and transaction data;
- Graphic images: GrocerKey worked with a third party to source images of all products sold, and with Woodman’s and its suppliers to gather images of private label products;
- POS integration: GrocerKey worked with Woodman’s POS dealer to enable GrocerKey to send online transactions back to Woodman’s systems.
In order to effectively handle online orders, efficient physical order picking is vital for retailers as it represents hard labor costs. GrocerKey scanned every item in the Woodman’s store and coded each one so order pickers could navigate the retailer's large stores efficiently.
Woodman’s relies on its low prices and reputation to drive sales rather than investing heavily in marketing efforts. Woodman’s online shopping experience grew organically through word of mouth as well as the referral and email capabilities within the GrocerKey platform.
“GrocerKey understands the independent grocery business and what needs to be done to satisfy the customer,” said Woodman. “They’ve represented us very well.”