The supply chain is long, winding, and sometimes unpredictable. Out-of-stock rates are close to three times higher than normal during Covid, and consumers are seeing a noticeable difference in the grocery aisles, both online and in-store. Lucidworks surveyed shoppers in the U.S. and U.K. who shop online for groceries to understand the state of online grocery shopping two years into the pandemic.

The survey report focuses on three solutions to keep shoppers full (and loyal) when shelves are more bare than usual:

  1. Make relevant recommendations. Shoppers are open to substitutes for a large portion of their groceries.
  2. Alert shoppers when their preferred items are low-in-stock and back-in-stock. They’re ready to buy.
  3. Ensure shoppers can find the items you do have. Smart search and filtering boosts average order value.



Shoppers Stay for Recommended Substitutes

Respondents said that “out-of-stock” instances have increased both online and in-store during
the pandemic. But “out-of-stock” doesn’t have to mean an empty cart. Nearly a third of shoppers will stay on the same site or app to look for a substitute if they can’t find the specific item they’re looking for.

However, shoppers identified some items where a substitute would never cut it. Roughly 90% of shoppers shared at least one grocery item that they would never buy a substitute for based on ingredients, preparation and brand. Nutella, Heinz beans, organic produce, and Shreddies were just a few of the products shoppers aren’t interested in finding an alternative for.

Items that customers will never buy a substitute for.

Inventory-Based Notifications Win Sales

More than half of respondents said that a low-in-stock notification would influence their purchase decision, and 80% of those shoppers would be more likely to make the purchase if they were alerted when items were low-in-stock.

Intelligent push-based notifications will continue to serve as a powerful tool to keep shoppers loyal and coming back for more. 66% of respondents prefer to be notified via email when an item is back in stock and 44% of shoppers prefer to receive those notifications via text.

Data on which ways people prefer to be notified when an item is back in stock.

Smarter Search Guides Shoppers to In-Stock Items

Only about a quarter of shoppers say that sites are making alternative recommendations every time an item they want is unavailable. 11% of shoppers reported that they rarely see recommendations for substitutes and usually end up on a “no results” page. This means lower average order value and a hit to customer loyalty.

Smart search and filtering, relevant recommendations, and displaying what’s in-stock (versus “out-of-stock” or “no results”) keep customers clicking into grocers’ online aisles. Grocers should invest in technologies like semantic vector search to reveal relevant, in-stock product choices regardless of how the supply chain is doing.



Grocery’s New Normal

Grocers must know and understand a wide range of consumer preferences including dietary restrictions, price fit, and brand loyalties for each individual shopper and then scale that to meet the needs of their entire online customer base. No easy feat.

Read the full report for strategies to keep customers in your virtual aisles and reach out to us today to learn how Lucidworks can support you on your journey.

About Katie Florez

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