70 Percent Of Consumers Will Be Grocery Shopping Online By 2024

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The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Nielsen released the second-year findings of their “Digitally Engaged Food Shopper” study at the FMI Midwinter Executive Conference in Miami, Florida. Building on the joint research findings issued in 2017, this second set of insights examines what food and beverage manufacturers and brick-and-mortar retailers need to do to ready themselves for the rising digital grocery landscape, identifying six “digital imperatives for omnichannel success.”

The research indicates that in as few as five to seven years, 70 percent of consumers will be grocery shopping online. The estimated $100 billion spend, which is equivalent to every U.S. household spending $850 online for food and beverage annually, will occur by 2022 or 2024

Key findings from this year’s study show that omnichannel shopping has passed the tipping point, with online grocery shopping on an accelerated path to industry saturation. The first year of research predicted that consumer online food and beverage spend could reach $100 billion by 2025. Today, FMI and Nielsen report that the pace of change and adoption has far outrun initial predictions, where the pervasiveness of online engagement could cut the timeline by as much as half.  

“The grocery industry is currently in the age of digital experimentation, where the roadmap on how to navigate and achieve real and profitable growth continues to evolve,” said Chris Morley, U.S. president FMCG and retail, Nielsen. “While analytics will continue to be critical for retailers and manufacturers to understand the digitally engaged food shopper on a deeper level, a collaborative approach to balancing physical and digital sales strategies is the key to unlocking omnichannel success.”

Six organizational imperatives

Two crucial parts of the research were the FMI-Nielsen Digital Readiness Assessment Survey and in-depth interviews across many operational functions of grocery retailers and manufacturers. That work revealed six organizational imperatives that can help retailers and manufacturers accelerate their omnichannel success.  

  1. Align organizational structures for omnichannel success: Integrate digital offerings in parallel with brick-and-mortar operations.
  2. Address discrepant datasets: Scrub master data files for discrepancies; strength in data and accuracy are critical components to successfully support online sale efforts.
  3. Integrate forecasts to increase operational efficiencies: Integrate online and offline forecasting so the right amount of inventory is available to meet orders through either channel.
  4. Optimize shopper insights: Bring retailer and manufacturer shopper information together into a single, comprehensive view of customer insights.
  5. Improve marketing and promotions: Optimize the management of omnichannel marketing and promotions.
  6. Merge digital and in-store shelf capabilities: Manage the physical shelf and its digital counterpart to create a seamless shopping experience, where consumers see the same information both on or offline.

“People, process and technology are the trifecta for a true omnichannel collaboration model,” said FMI Chief Collaboration Officer Mark Baum. “No matter the maturity stage, food retailers and their CPG business partners will find value in leveraging these six organizational imperatives as they respond for a more digitally engaged consumer.”

Year two of “The Digitally Engaged Food Shopper: Developing Your Omnichannel Collaboration Model” study is part of a strategic alliance and multi-year initiative with FMI and Nielsen to uncover comprehensive insights on current and future digital shopping behaviors within the food retail marketplace. A copy of the full report is available here. The interactive website also features a readiness assessment for retailers.

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About The Author

A word nerd, grocery geek and two-year member of The Shelby Report. She is a proud new homeowner and a great lover of avocado toast.