As Spanish cooperative Eroski unveils the latest version of its digital supermarket, the retailer has boasted about its success in transferring the difficult fresh category online. It notes that “over 80% of the orders at Eroski’s online supermarket contain fresh produce (meat, fruit, fish etc.)” – which is much higher than the sector average. Nielsen estimates that only 10% of Spanish grocery orders placed online contain fresh produce.
Eroski has over 15 years of experience in the channel and the new grocery webstore lists over 15,000 SKUs. Shoppers have the choice between home delivery or they can collect their order from a network of 33 collection points.
The online penetration of fresh produce is a barrier that all retailers face, as unlike more standardised FMCG products, the choice of such items requires a high involvement from the customer. Grocery e-commerce operators like to boast this figure as an indicator of their expertise and the trust their shoppers have in their service – and rightly so.
Nonetheless, this comes at yet another undeniable cost, without going further into the channel profitability debate. Many retailers have a freshness guarantee, picking the freshest products to satisfy their online shoppers, which leave us wondering what is left for the customers making the effort to come into the store.
Eroski’s Online Director provides further explanation. The grocer “naturally guarantees the quality of products, but also offers online customers the opportunity to customise the fresh produce order with preparation notes, specifying the type of cut for meat or fish, or the level of maturation of the fruit […] in order to select fresh produce as if the customers were doing it themselves”. The problem is, the customers are not doing it themselves. It is another great service for shoppers, but another resource-intensive activity for the retailer.
Admittedly, not all shoppers want to shop online. As LZ Retailytics figures show food online penetration in Spain to be below 1%, a vast majority of Eroski’s customers will continue to buy their goods – both fresh and ambient – from physical stores. However, isn't playing the fresh produce card giving your shoppers one less reason to visit your store, essentially cutting off the hand that feeds you?