Meet Shopper Demand with MDI's eCommerce Platform

Aug 6, 2020

Ecommerce. Online shopping. Etail. Whatever you choose to call the dramatic shift in shopping behavior affecting grocery, the consequence is the same: consumers are flocking to the internet to purchase groceries for curbside pickup or delivery to their doorsteps, and retailers who aren't giving them that option will soon be left behind. 

How did eCommerce move from a "we'll get to that someday" wishlist item for independent retailers to a requirement for doing business without leaving dollars on the table? The simple answer is COVID-19 has changed what shoppers look for from a shopping experience. The more complex answer is this retail revolution was brewing in the background for some time. 

Online shopping is far from a new trend. In fact, the percentage of shoppers who have made grocery purchases online more than twice a month has been growing steadily since 2017, and was expected to continue to grow more rapidly over the course of the next five years. But no one could have predicted the unprecedented acceleration seen during the pandemic. 

According to a recent survey from Inmar, 57 percent of consumers say they had shopped for groceries online before the pandemic. Now that figure is closer to 80 percent, and retailers who jumped onboard early with eCommerce are reaping the rewards. A CNBC analysis of Walmart's earnings revealed their eCommerce sales rose 74 percent in the first quarter of 2020, with much of that attributed to grocery sales. And the same analysis reported Kroger's eCommerce use rose 92 percent in that same timeframe. 

eCommerce stats-400w

The opportunity is ours to lose 

So what does the acceleration of eCommerce mean for IGA independents?

"If we all agree that the pandemic is likely only going to get worse before it gets better—and the events of the last month certainly point to that—then we also have to also agree that we need to move on eCommerce right now," says IGA CEO John Ross. "As the virus continues to move into smaller communities across the country, shoppers' need for eCommerce is only going to increase. If you don't have it, they'll start shopping somewhere that does, even if it goes against their desires to support local businesses. It's that simple."

Moreover, Ross stresses that shoppers' desire for eCommerce isn't a fad that will fade away with the development of a Coronavirus vaccine. "Now that shoppers have a taste of the convenience of online shopping, they're going to want to keep doing it," he says. "No matter what happens with COVID-19, long term shoppers are speaking with their dollars that online efficiency and local quality is what they crave." 

MDI's statistics echo Ross' statement. With their online shoppers averaging $130 per basket and the need-it-now behavior of online shopping, eCommerce is necessary for shoppers and retailers.  


The good news is it's not too late to take advantage of the eCommerce opportunity. "You can launch now, catch up, and grow fast," Ross says. "But wait too much longer and you will miss out. Shoppers who create their first transaction with a retailer are seven times harder to switch by the time they have done their fifth transaction." 

So how does an independent retailer already stretched to the max during a pandemic take on starting an eCommerce program? That's where IGA and your wholesaler MDI can help. 

The MDI program


IGA retailers have stepped up to serve their customers and communities during the pandemic in so many ways. They've sourced goods and produce from farms and restaurants when the supply chain had holes. They have waved delivery fees to shoppers who can't leave the house, donated food to senior centers, handed out free lunches to kids who were impacted by school closures, and pivoted fundraising plans to ensure local families needs' are met, to name a few. According to Ross, delivering a more convenient, easier, and safer way to shop through eCommerce is the next step for giving shoppers what they need during the pandemic and beyond. 

"Translating our in-store experience to an online experience is extension of our commitment to outstanding customer service," he says. "Giving shoppers the option of shopping online doesn't lessen the impact of our service. It amplifies it." 

Your strategic partner MDI has a powerful set of tools to help you get launched quickly. Their partnership with Freshop, a longtime IGA Red Oval Partner who serves more IGA stores than any other provider, makes it possible to get up and running quickly while carrying that distinctive, hometown proud shopping experience from in-store to online. 

And of course, IGA will stand behind you with additional content like recipes, blogs, and videos, and fully integrated National Digital Ad offers. 


Through their partnership with Freshop, the MDI eCommerce program delivers the simple, powerful, and customized online shopping experience consumers are looking for. Sites are built with the shopper's journey in mind, including the devices they are using. The websites have a responsive design, which means they look good on any device; they're optimized for search engines to increase traffic to your online store; and they're ADA-friendly.

The solution makes it easy for shoppers to find what they're looking for.

  • Online product catalog is easy to search
  • Interactive circular allows customers to shop directly from your weekly digital ad
  • Easy use of digital coupons and loyalty program integration


It's also easy for retailers to get up and running. "Freshop is not just online shopping, but full digital engagement made easy for independent retailers," Bolt says.  

"The lesson here is clear," says Ross. "Jump in. Connect with your shoppers digitally. Do it now, don’t wait. As we've seen during the last four to five months, the retailers who have not just online shopping platforms, but shopper-friendly sites, are seeing more sales, traffic, and bigger baskets."

Ross stresses that eCommerce isn't only for pandemic shoppers. "This is where we were headed, but the virus pushed us forward much more quickly than expected," he says. "MDI's eCommerce  program gets our retailers online now and will also grow and scale with them in the future."

Don't wait another month or for the pandemic to slow before getting your store online. Join successful independent retailers across the world in this simple step toward the future of grocery and your business.

learn about MDI's eCommerce program

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