I Just Want to Get My Stuff!

Why Better Substitutions are the Key to
Better Online Grocery Shopping Experience.

A 2020 Retail Feedback Group satisfaction survey revealed the key areas where online grocery shoppers are unhappy with their experience. Apart from “produce freshness” and “packaging,” all of the areas where shoppers desired improvement could be summed up in just one notion—”Make it easier for me to get my stuff.” 40% of respondents were dissatisfied with online checkout. 45% wished pickup and delivery were more efficient. 53% found navigation to be a chore. 58% said that finding items on promotion was difficult. And a whopping 74% couldn’t find the items they wanted to buy at all.

Halla Taste Intelligence helps shoppers get their stuff

It’s surveys like this that remind me why what we are doing here at Halla is so important for grocers. The Halla Taste Intelligence suite of products has the power to massively improve every one of these areas. Halla Search is designed to really understand what shoppers are looking for and to serve results in prioritized order. Halla Recommend not only understands and presents desired items proactively, it can also put forward items on promotion that match the shoppers’ unique preferences. That results in 5-15% basket lift, while increasing loyalty and shopper satisfaction.

But there’s one solution in the Halla product suite which is especially well-suited to helping shoppers “get their stuff”—Halla Substitute. The last time I wrote about Halla Substitute, I explained how unavailable items were driving as many as 20% of grocery customers straight to the competition. Given that 74% complain about “finding their stuff,” it’s actually amazing that the number isn’t higher. Failing to deliver what your customers already ordered is something of a “cardinal sin” for grocery. Why wouldn’t they go somewhere else? Now the competition is just one click away!

Halla Substitute makes fulfillment more efficient

When you dig into it, Halla Substitute solves way more than just the unavailable item problem itself. Take the problem of inefficient fulfillment, for instance. Nobody wants to wait longer than necessary to get their stuff. But when out-of-stock situations arise at most grocery stores today, the only way the order makes it on time is when a picker makes hasty (and usually bad) substitutions, or they leave out the missing items altogether. It’s a rock and a hard place kind of situation, and it doesn’t do any wonders for shopper satisfaction. If the picker takes their time to communicate with the customer, on the other hand, the order is almost certain to be delayed. Here again, Halla Substitute

To shoppers, this feels inconvenient and disrespectful. “If you couldn’t sell me this item, why’d you let me put it in my cart in the first place?” In this situation, Halla Substitute can instantly suggest the best possible replacement in stock right now, based on the item selected and the shopper’s true intent, according to both their past and current selections.” Instead of hitting a maddening wall at checkout, the shopper simply accepts the replacement and appreciates their grocer for understanding them so well.

 removes the root cause of shopper dissatisfaction. Giving pickers intelligent replacement items that really satisfy shoppers’ intentions means that they don’t have to make a choice between speed and accuracy anymore. 

Halla Substitute improves online checkout

Another area where good substitutions may improve bad grocery experiences is at online checkout. For grocers who have real-time inventory, realization that an item is out-of-stock might occur just as a shopper is ready to pay. Now, instead of getting to the finish line and getting on with their day, the shopper is stuck circling back to try to find a way to complete a recipe or solve a household need. That’s hard work! 

There is nothing else on the market like Halla Substitute

Given the known challenges and the mission-critical importance of shopping satisfaction in online grocery, it may seem like something of an enigma that so few grocers have solved the problem of substitutes. But in my role at Halla, I study this problem deeply every single day, and I’ve realized something: Without a hint of hyperbole, I say that Halla Substitute is not only the best solution on the market for grocery substitutions—it is the only one. Here’s why it works so well:

  1. Halla Substitute is grocery specific: It is trained on over 100 billion shopper and grocery product data points. Halla substitute understands food items and their relationships with each other, and with consumers.
  2. Halla Substitute is personalized: It uses machine learning to really understand shopper preferences and intent. When an item is unavailable, Halla Substitute determines, based on an individual shopper’s known preferences, with an incredibly high degree of accuracy—the most ideal inventory item that you can propose to them as a replacement.
  3. Halla Substitute is real time: It doesn’t just reference a shopper’s typical behavior or sales data from last week. Halla substitute makes its suggestions based on the shopper’s current cart and behavior, right up to the second, and it can process thousands of decisions per second.

If you are a grocery executive and you can show me another third-party software that does all of this, simultaneously, reach out to us. I’ll take you out to a steak dinner — or whatever substitution suits your unique preferences.

Good Substitutes create good customer experiences

Halla Substitute replacements are accepted by shoppers at a rate greater than 95%! This does more than help customers “get their stuff” in a quick and convenient way. Directly solving the unavailable item conundrum is the key to indirectly creating a much, much better online grocery shopping experience. Grocers who get substitutions right will have a huge competitive advantage over those who don’t. So if you are reading this, and your organization is not already working as hard as  InstacartAmazon Fresh, and Walmart are to solve this problem, it might be time to talk to Halla.

I really couldn’t be more excited about what we are doing here at Halla with substitutions. There’s only one downside to more grocers implementing Halla Substitute in their online stores…we will have fewer hilarious substitution stories to share!

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