Maybe consumers tried contactless shopping for everything from groceries to automobiles in 2020 because they felt safe. Maybe they got hooked on digital amenities after vaccinations became widely available. Perhaps they still use it for both reasons, as the omicron COVID-19 variant is proliferating and many are concerned about safety again.
Whatever the reason, contactless shopping remains a priority for some shoppers, whether it’s cars, grocery, fast food or department stores, said Instacart’s digital experience leaders, Target. , General Motors and McDonald’s at a CES 2022 ecommerce conference panel. tendencies. Yet some consumers want pre-2020 shopping methods to be reinstated. Successful companies will need to integrate them all into their e-commerce operations, said Edward Kummer, chief digital officer at automaker GM.
For GM, that means customers typically come to the car dealership more educated than ever, with web searches for the vehicles they are interested in. It also means that some will want instant gratification and leave with a new car – so when the automaker can prepare the documentation digitally in advance, it improves the customer experience.
“I think you’re going to still see a lot of stuff at the dealership,” Kummer said, “but people are going to choose to buy and interact however they want – I think that’s what we’re going to do. see.”
McDonald’s had built a contactless delivery infrastructure decades ago with its drive-thru pickup kiosks, said Tariq Hassan, McDonald’s chief marketing officer. The operational challenges for 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 at drive-thru has become the problem to be solved. Part of McDonald’s strategy for building engagement included “collaborations” or influencer marketing meal collaborations with celebrities. So far, the roster includes popular musicians like Saweetie, Travis Scott, J Balvin, and BTS. On the tech stack side, McDonald’s also launched the MyMcDonald’s Rewards loyalty program last July, which the company says has attracted tens of millions of customers so far. As Loyalists buy food, they accumulate points which can be cashed in for gifts.
“We always do a great job, revealing what people love about this food, but using digital [channels] and the engagement around this digital to connect with them in very different ways, ”said Hassan.
Celebrity brand meals and campaigns reveal a shift in the way marketers think, said Jordan Jewell, analyst at IDC. Advertising and marketing budgets revolved around events such as the Super Bowl or the holidays. Now more sophisticated data and analytics can drive personalized offers for individual customers, and these new campaigns don’t need a special event to activate.
“It’s about reversing that mentality of who you advertise – by focusing more on the person or the consumer or the business customer,” Jewell said. “Historically, advertising has had very questionable returns, especially on more analogue channels. Digital is much more responsive. You can actually see the answer when you invest more.
Instacart, Target unlocks digital growth
Instacart sales increased 229% in 2020 compared to 2019; the site processes 1 in 5 online grocery orders in the United States. Holding this ground has become the company’s top priority, said Asha Sharma, COO of Instacart. By 2021, the goal was to get delivery to a customer within two hours across North America. This year, the company aims to reduce that to 15-30 minutes. It will require new applications that enable advance orders and software for catering, automation and payment. It will also require new logistics processes, including what Sharma called Instacart’s “micro-distribution centers” at grocery retailers.
Building infrastructure to meet these new goals can be a challenge, but it probably won’t be as difficult as the explosive growth of 2020.
“I think we always build the plane while we fly it, and we love that,” Sharma said. “Our business has been badly affected by COVID, and it can happen every day. A storm can happen from week to week. Business is different every day.”
Asha sharmaCOO, Instacart
Target, which has built its own IT infrastructure and numerous applications, rebuilt its digital experiences in the months leading up to 2020. This technology fueled growth measured in billions in 2020 as competitors caught up. Its digital marketing strategy has shifted in recent years from an episodic strategy to a more sophisticated, still active campaign, said Cara Sylvester, Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Digital Officer of Target. An example: In the past, Target may have launched campaigns specific to Black History Month. Target now showcases black-owned brands year-round on its apps and sites.
“While [diversity, equity and inclusion] has always been part of our agenda at Target, I would tell you [that] digital acceleration comes from expanding our reach and our power to drive positive change, ”Sylvester said.
Like McDonald’s, Target launched a loyalty program, Target Circle, in 2019. It gives customers the ability to earn credit for merchandise as well as have a voice in directing Target’s local donation.
Such programs are great, IDC’s Jewell said, but what is potentially most effective for building business on the e-commerce side are programs that attract more than a company’s most die-hard fans.
“When I think of McDonald’s or Starbucks and how they invest in digital loyalty programs, I kind of wonder what’s next? Jewel said. “How do you build these digital programs for these less loyal customers? How are they going to get new customers, because that’s really what they need to do if they want to continue to grow digitally? “
Don Fluckinger covers enterprise content management, CRM, marketing automation, e-commerce, customer service, and enabling technologies for TechTarget.