E-commerce technology has matured to the point that customers expect all kinds of retail websites to be online and ready to take orders 24 hours a day, every day of the week. Customers also expect e-commerce sites to accept multiple forms of electronic payment and to secure transaction data.
Grocery E-Commerce Guide to Ordering& Payment Methods
Some privately owned grocery companies build their online shopping programs, but many find it tough to do so without contracting web support through grocery e-commerce app platforms. At least one of these platforms is available through a grocer franchise network, but many are third-party e-commerce facilitators that specialize in online shopping technology.
Order Process and Schedule
Relative to ordering, part of what an efficient e-commerce platform does is:
- rapidly access a store’s inventory database to match customer merchandise choices to in-stock inventory
- suggest alternate selections if it appears that any items are out of stock
- check with the customer’s payment source to validate that funds are available for the purchase
- verify whether the pickup or delivery time requested by the customer is available
- protect customer data via encryption (a process of hiding information by scrambling it) on a secure server; payment occurs online once an order is accepted
The schedule for picking up or delivering an order within a day depends on several factors, such as:
1. Store hours of operation
2. Limitations that stores place on hours for pickup
3. Hours when in-store shopping or auto traffic are at a peak
4. Whether the store has a pickup/delivery program or uses a third-party fulfillment service like Instacart, and
5. Availability of pickup/delivery staff (whether working for a grocer or its delivery service, part-time employees may not be allowed to exceed a set number of hours).
Methods of Payment
Most shop-online grocery programs restrict payment to specific credit and debit cards. Gift cards generally are not accepted. The same is true for electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards used by recipients of the federal nutrition food stamp program now called SNAP. However, the federal government in January 2017 began piloting the use of EBT-SNAP cards through Amazon and five large chains: Dash’s Market, Hart’s Local Grocers, Hy-Vee, ShopRite, and Safeway.