With hungry consumers forecast to spend $100 billion per year on online grocery by 2022, according to the Food Marketing Institute, more food retailers are realizing the need to upgrade their offerings to deliver an efficient and consistent e-Commerce experience. California-based Smart & Final, which operates more than 300+ stores, has the challenge of building out not one, but two, different online portals, designed to cater to traditional household shoppers as well as business customers including restaurants, caterers and other foodservice companies.
Smart & Final worked with digital commerce platform Mercatus to build these online experiences. With the launch of the new SmartandFinal.com and Business.SmartandFinal.com sites, Smart & Final customers gained access to new features, including the retailer’s weekly digital flyers and coupons; shoppable recipes and meal planning; and customized shopping lists, all within the retailer’s branded web and mobile apps. The customized shopping lists are powered by consumer data, with a strong influence from prior purchasing habits.
Shoppers can create a profile to reflect dietary allergies or preferences, and through their personal account they can manage subscriptions, payment options and purchase history.For business shoppers, the Business.SmartandFinal.com site enables users to create an account under their business name and even apply for tax exemptions.
Customers using the Smart & Final app or Smart & Final Business app can seamlessly switch between apps and web sites, and their profile and cart will remain intact.
“One of the most unique aspects of our business at Smart & Final is the fact that we cater to both household and business customers, and we see this as an opportunity to offer uniquely tailored experiences for each,” said Ed Wong, EVP and Chief Digital Officer (CDO) at Smart & Final in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “To make sure the customer experiences are seamless, we’ve done a lot of advanced coordination of shopping experiences across stores, systems and resources — from special promotions available directly through our web site, to the ability for business customers to receive tax exemptions for online orders and complete online payment for delivery orders.”
Mercatus Brings Partner Network To Smart & Final Shopping Experience
The retailer’s new digital offerings harness the Mercatus platform and its network of partners, including AgilOne, Flipp,GK Software, InfoSys, Shipt, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) andTforce. With Mercatus, the retailer was able to complete 10 new technology integrations in just under eight months, according to Wong.
Additionally, Smart & Final now offers delivery orders via Mercatus Dispatch, an integrated white-label, last-mile delivery solution that seamlessly connects Smart & Final household shoppers and business customers to a host of third-party delivery providers. (Smart & Final goods already had been available on Instacart.) Same-day deliveries for all customers are available in less than two hours for a delivery fee of $4.99 plus a flat service fee of $6.40.
“Given there’s not an all-in-one solution provider, there’s a lot of work that goes into creating a seamless e-Commerce experience, but with the right partnerships, you can set yourself up for success,” Wong said. “Working in concert with our implementation team, we’ve successfully project managed multiple partners, built out our operations program, ramped up our support desk capabilities and coordinated between multiple third-party integrations in a very short period of time.”
Smart & Final also will leverage Mercatus to build out a bilingual English and Spanish shopping experience, along with call center operations management and support in both languages.
Parent Company Puts Smart & Final B2B Division On The Block
Smart & Final, which went private in a $1.1 billion deal in June, operates 324 stores, including 255Smart & Final Extra! and legacy Smart & Final locations and 69Smart Foodservice Warehouse stores. Apollo Management, the private equity firm that acquired Smart & Final, is already seeking to run an auction for the Smart Foodservice division, according to Reuters.
The Smart & Final Extra! stores blend a wholesale club-style store — but no membership fee — with a traditional supermarket, including farm-fresh produce and natural/organic options. The Smart Foodservice stores, located in the Pacific Northwest and Northern California, offer a “no-frills” warehouse format that mainly targets business customers.