Instacart Retail

Bring Your Digital Storefront to Life with Three Trending Strategies



Nov 14, 2023

In today’s retail landscape, consumers seamlessly shift between online and in-store shopping, giving grocers a valuable opportunity to leverage the capabilities of digital storefronts. This goes beyond bridging the gap between physical and online shopping — it involves creating integrated omnichannel experiences that drive profits, foster customer loyalty, and encourage innovation.

The digital grocery opportunity

Responding to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, grocers saw a surge in e-commerce activity that reshaped the industry’s trajectory. Digital purchases continue to hold steady, accounting for more than 13% of all grocery sales as of Q2 2023. It’s clear that consumers still appreciate the convenience and selection of online grocery shopping, often demonstrating a preference for retailers with digital storefronts that cater to their needs.

But a powerful online presence isn’t the only way grocers can attract and retain customers. In fact, in-store purchases still drive the majority of sales for grocers across the United States — and omnichannel customers drive significant value for grocers. McKinsey & Company research shows that customers who shop online and in-store spend two to four times more than in-store only customers.

Considering these changing dynamics, the omnichannel customer is now one of the most valuable cohorts for grocers. Industry leaders are leveraging their digital storefronts to craft connected shopping solutions that combine the best of both worlds. This isn’t about compromising — it’s about creating seamless, customer-oriented experiences that encourage innovation and practicality, ushering in a change that customers will appreciate.

For a successful omnichannel future, grocers need to go beyond standard pickup and delivery options. We’ve identified three effective strategies for using digital storefronts to offer unique in-store and online shopping experiences:

  • Shoppable weekly ads
  • Omnichannel loyalty program benefits
  • AI-powered searches and upsells

Let’s explore these strategies and see how retailers can incorporate them in their stores.

Enhance your customer experience with shoppable weekly ads

Grocers nationwide are embracing the longstanding value of weekly ads and experimenting with a shift from physical to digital. This shift allows grocers to build on existing connections with customers and create an optimized flyer-style ad that supports in-store and online shopping benefits. Customers can easily browse ads, complete online orders, and explore suggested product collections — all from the comfort of their device. Grocers can also include online-only benefits for digital ads such as free shipping and simplified product browsing to help customers feel comfortable with the change.

Your weekly ad is an opportunity to create a digital shopping companion for your customers. Let’s break this down.

Customer-friendly optimization

Creating an engaging shopping experience that resonates with your customers poses both a challenge and an opportunity in the digital grocery realm. As your team conceptualizes your digital ad, take the customer’s purchasing flow and your store’s layout into account. For example, strategically placing QR codes throughout your store can encourage customers to use your digital ad as they shop. 

Elevated merchandising techniques

Your digital storefront offers a unique opportunity to seamlessly blend traditional merchandising. As customers navigate your brick-and-mortar stores, their digital weekly ad can feature physical promotions and match your brand experience.

Seamlessly link coupons for online and offline shopping 

When it’s time to check out, customers are eager to make the most out of the promotions and discounts featured in your ad. To ensure an expedited checkout, use discounts that automatically apply, or use scanning technology to make codes user friendly.

There’s growing value in digital promotions and coupons — and weekly digital ads are a good place to start. 

Maximize your loyalty program’s visibility

Investing in a digital storefront without integrating your loyalty program can have a negative impact for your customers. As you optimize your store’s online platform, it’s important to consider how you can emphasize your loyalty program benefits and create seamless shopping experiences that extend beyond your customer’s device.

Fortunately, it’s possible — and effective — to blend digital benefits with in-store value by designing omnichannel opportunities for your loyalty program. You can offer these benefits as online-exclusive perks for customers using your digital storefront — or blend them with in-store offers that heighten visibility and engagement. 

Technological advancements make loyalty program integrations simple. Your digital storefront’s design capabilities can ensure your branding is united across channels, reducing confusion for existing and prospective program members. You can also tap into innovative features like smartphone barcode scanners and member-exclusive discounts to enhance omnichannel shopping experiences for loyalty program customers. 

When you bring your loyalty program front and center, you’ll enjoy the perks of effective omnichannel design, including:

  • Increased brand awareness
  • Increased basket sizes per customer
  • Increased shopper engagement

There’s a significant opportunity to tie loyalty program features into exclusive online benefits. Grocers who tap into this chance position themselves as customer-centric retailers.

Personalize each shopping experience with AI

AI’s impact and reach is undeniable — and the technology delivers unique value for grocers of all sizes. Building your digital storefront with AI can unlock features that drive customer engagement both online and offline. So how does it work?

Customized shopping recommendations

With AI, you can program your digital storefront to monitor a large number of consumer behaviors, including search history, product interactions, and other trends that matter to your stores. As time passes, AI continuously monitors these data points to produce increasingly effective recommendations every time your customers shop online. You can use this model to encourage repeat purchases and upsell opportunities for related products and brands. 

Expanded search results

The most advanced platforms can provide keyword-adjacent results — and prevent null searches — based on your customer’s product preferences. For example, a customer searching for “breakfast” may receive yogurt, coffee, and bagel results, even though they didn’t use those specific search terms.

In-store locations

AI can integrate into your store layout and provide specific product locations on your customer’s device to help with wayfinding as they shop in store. You can also leverage out-of-stock item recommendations without time-intensive programming, since AI will do the work for you.

AI is here to stay. Tapping into this technology can help you develop omnichannel experiences that elevate your brand above the competition.

Get more from your digital storefront

When you create omnichannel experiences, your digital storefront should make the process efficient and profitable. For grocers looking for an optimized solution or simply ready to upgrade, Instacart offers two tiers for online platforms: Storefront and Storefront Pro. Both options are powered by AI and integrate smoothly into your current operations, making the customer transition easy and exciting.

Ready to get started? Connect with one of our e-commerce experts today! Click the button below to submit a Retailer Inquiry form.


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Instacart is the leading grocery technology company in North America, partnering with more than 1,400 national, regional, and local retail banners to deliver from more than 80,000 stores across more than 14,000 cities in North America. To read more Instacart posts, you can browse the company blog or search by keyword using the search bar at the top of the page.

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