Serve Catering Customers How and When They Want to Shop by Using Grocery Catering Software
As the fall months approach, many grocery retailers are starting to think about their holiday catering offering. Holiday peak periods are lucrative opportunities for catering and prepared foods, allowing retailers to grow business outside their center aisle, serve their communities, and cement their position as quality, dependable meal providers.
And yet, many grocery retailers are still using cumbersome, manual processes (even sticky notes!) to manage their catering service line, creating an environment of frustration, too many opportunities for mistakes, and confusing in-store operations for their teams.
The key to capitalizing on the catering opportunity is to understand the expectations and habits of catering customers. The Instacart Research Team conducted in-depth interviews with online shoppers who had purchased catering in the last year to find out more about how customers want to shop, the types of experiences that support and hinder their purchase journey, and how retailers utilize grocery catering software to implement learnings that will bolster their catering operations.
How grocery catering software can meet customer expectations and support their catering operations
Here are three things catering customers expect from their grocery retailers and tips for retailers to help meet their customers’ needs.
1. Catering customers want to shop with confidence
Catering customers know what they need for their party, meeting, or special event and want to be able to count on their grocer to meet their needs. This includes anything from traditional catering items — such as sandwich trays and vegetable platters — to hot items like chicken wings and lasagna. It can also include complimentary grocery items, such as pre-made desserts from the bakery or side dishes.
Retailer tip: With grocery catering software, retailers can offer an easy-to-find catering category for both their in-store and online experiences — so customers can shop with confidence and ease. Ensuring that adjacent items are included in the catering category will make it easier for catering customers to find those items.
2. Catering customers are task-oriented and focused
Catering customers have a narrow focus and do not necessarily expect a combined experience between catering and grocery shopping. As high-intent and task-oriented shoppers, catering customers can benefit from being surfaced with relevant items from the rest of the store. This experience must be easy, efficient, and not distract from their core objective. Catering customers don’t want to see the full listing of grocery items alongside their catering selection.
Retailer tip: Leverage data to understand which adjacent grocery items catering customers may be looking for, such as paper plates, napkins, and cups. Adjacent grocery items can be found via the “frequently bought together” feature on e-commerce platforms. By using grocery catering software, retailers can make it easy for task-oriented customers to find the items they need quickly by including relevant grocery items in their online catering category.
3. Catering customers expect a seamless experience online and in-store
According to the in-depth interviews, many respondents often combined online shopping with in-store shopping for their events. Respondents shared that they shopped online for purchases of known items, such as main catering dishes, and then visited a grocery store for last-minute add-ons. One expectation is clear: catering customers expect a seamless experience across these shopping channels with the ability to bypass lines.
Retailer tip: Consider implementing an order management system, such as FoodStorm, to help manage customer expectations of unified ordering. With FoodStorm, customers can browse catering offerings on the Instacart App or the FoodStorm storefront. Since FoodStorm integrates with leading grocery POS systems, customers can also visit their selected retailer to pick up their catering and while in-store, grab any last-minute add-ons and check out at the register. A grocery catering software integration is also advantageous to retailers’ in-store teams, as using FoodStorm and Instacart to manage their catering and prepared foods business provides simplicity in processes and systems.
H2: Tap into a profitable revenue stream with grocery catering software
Catering and prepared foods can be among some of the most profitable items in a grocery store. Knowing how customers want to shop for these items can help retailers take full advantage of these opportunities.
These interviews help show that customers shopping for catering are farther down the line of intent than others, but have certain expectations they would like met by their preferred retailer.
With the power of Instacart’s FoodStorm technology, retailers can exceed expectations by partnering with the teams that are powering the future of grocery.
If you’d like to learn more about FoodStorm and what it can do for your grocery catering business, get in touch today. Our team of grocery catering software specialists will partner with you to learn your business’ unique operational needs and propose a tailored solution to help power your catering and prepared food business now and into the future.
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