Food Marketing Institute (FMI), Arlington, Va., and FitForCommerce, Short Hills, N.J., released what is said to be the industry's first exploration in how leading grocery retailers are meeting customer demands for digital and omnichannel shopping experiences. The inaugural Grocery Omnichannel Index benchmarks retailer capabilities across web, mobile and in-store channels from the eyes of their customers.

FitForCommerce mystery-shopped 26 retailers’ online, in-store and mobile experiences nationwide using more than 175 benchmarking criteria. For the more than half of food retailers that manage digital commerce and fulfillment internally and 42% that outsource the entire process to a third-party vendor, the report makes clear that convenience, data practices, personalization, content and digital tools, mobile experience and pick-up experience are critical criteria.

“I remember how the term ‘mystery shopper’ would strike fear in our hearts because we perceived we were being judged based on one customer’s experience, but in reality, it was just another day being a retail employee and ensuring you preserved that customer’s trust, met a need and delivered on the store’s promise,” says Doug Baker, vice president, industry relations for FMI. “This research should not be considered an invasion of privacy, and instead offer an effective way of evaluating the shopper’s digital experience in context with one’s own omnichannel strategy.”

“We arrived at several conclusions that will help retailers better evaluate how the shopper perceives a grocery retailer’s online, mobile and in-store experience,” adds Kathy Kimple, chief retail officer for FitForCommerce. “We recognize that strategic omnichannel priorities look different from company to company based on budget, resources, digital maturity and so on, but throughout this report, we outline key omnichannel capabilities that should be on every retailer’s roadmap.”