The Cart Replaces the Shopping List in Online Food Shopping

That means marketers must focus on getting items directly into the cart, and not on the list.

Do you make a list before you go grocery shopping? If you are like 80 percent of U.S. shoppers who visit physical grocery stores, you do. So ubiquitous is the grocery list that even Michelangelo wrote them, complete with his own artistic touch. More than half of all domestic consumers still craft grocery lists the same way Michelangelo did in the 16th century: using pen and paper.

The dynamic digital list lives in carts

However, as online shopping for CPG and grocery products has grown rapidly, grocery lists are quickly becoming casualties of the shift. Among consumers who buy groceries online, less than half of them make lists. Instead, they add products to their online carts at the moment they discover them. These digital carts then act as holding bins for consumers to “store” items they want and will purchase at a later date—when they have the time or inclination to complete the order.  It wouldn’t be incorrect to think of the cart as a “virtual list,” one that gets added to throughout the week, much like a written list

Real-time opportunity for brands and retailers

This change in how consumers make and manage their lists creates a very real opportunity for CPG brands and retailers. Product marketing has typically relied on memory, where brands hope that consumers will remember to add their products to grocery lists or that in-store presence will remind shoppers to buy items once they’re in the store. Now, brands can actually drive consumers directly from the point of intent to in-cart conversion. This new reality requires some re-evaluating of key beliefs and metrics.

Engagement is not a substitute for conversion when the conversion opportunity delights the customer

Many brand marketers have been brainwashed into valuing engagement over conversion.  We’ve even seen bonus plans based on engagement.  Engagement is a great start, but at the end of the day, it’s not the ultimate goal. It doesn’t pay salaries, for product development or for anything else that’s good for the company and its customers. Only sales can do that.  For low-consideration categories (like CPG products), getting consumers to spend any measureable amount of time “thinking about” your product is a time-wasting trap.

This doesn’t mean strong-arming customers into buying your products, but if you’re already driving desire, isn’t it actually helpful to make acting on that desire quick and easy? Your ad makes me want your shampoo because it makes hair soft and silky?  I’ll love you more if you make it light and easy to stick in my Amazon cart.  That tweet about your limited-edition chocolates?  Don’t make me leave Twitter to search where to found them. Rather, allow me to add them to my Instacart basket right now while I’m still thinking about it.  If you create an itch for your consumers, it’s best to let them scratch it right then.

The shortest path to purchase is the virtual list

Every digital touchpoint can be a direct path to conversion. Social media posts, videos, banner ads, and content marketing can all be activated to populate digital carts with merchandise from single-click consumer action. Enabling consumers to add products to their virtual lists (digital carts) at the point of discovery is key to capturing interest at its peak and boosting the likelihood of conversion.  Combined with retailer retargeting, it becomes an ongoing reminder of your brands engagement.

CPG has been a lagging sector when it comes to ecommerce, but it has the potential to leave high-consideration categories in the dust.  Last year, only three percent of consumers reported purchasing CPG products online, this year that number hit 25%. With growth like that, this is the category to watch for driving consumer behavior trends over the next few years. In fact, IRI predicts that within this time frame 50% of all CPG growth with come from online sales. The winning methods may vary, but one thing is clear: CPG brands that rely on consumers remembering to add them to carts will lose to those that enable ecommerce actions at every discovery point.

This article originally appeared on Internet Retailer.

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