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Study Finds Reviews Are Key For Online And In-Store Grocery Shoppers

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Last updated on September 26th, 2017 at 04:57 pm

PowerReviews, a consumer feedback technology company serving more than 1,000 global brands and retailers, has released a new research paper exploring the results of a survey on American consumers’ grocery shopping habits. “Beyond the Supermarket Shelves: How consumers are navigating the grocery shopping experience online and in-store” examines the changing landscape for grocery retailers and provides recommendations for retailers to better attract, convert and retain grocery shoppers across channels, in an increasingly competitive space.

“Traditional retailers have been grappling with the effects of e-commerce for several years. The Amazon effect continues to put pressure on revenue, operations and shopper expectations. We are beginning to see a similar pattern in the grocery marketplace,” said Matt Moog, CEO, PowerReviews. “Although the vast majority of shoppers (90 percent) still opt to visit a brick and mortar store, grocery retailers have a perfect opportunity to get ahead of what promises to be a disruptive trend and build an omnichannel grocery strategy that effectively engages shoppers wherever they’re shopping.”

Online grocery shoppers

First, PowerReviews’ research found that online shoppers aren’t abandoning brick-and-mortar stores. In fact, only 17 percent of shoppers are purchasing their groceries online. Of those online shoppers, 92 percent also have made an in-store grocery purchase in the last 90 days. It is worth noting that shoppers residing in a city have more availability to online grocery retailers so they are more likely to shop online. Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of consumers living in a city with a population of 500,000 or more have made an online grocery purchase in the last 90 days, compared to 10 percent of consumers who reside in towns with a population of less than 50,000.

Ratings and reviews have become a key part of the path to purchase, regardless of the product a consumer is shopping for. PowerReviews’ data indicates that online grocery is no exception. If reviews are available on an online grocery service’s website, 93 percent of shoppers will read them at least occasionally. Previous research with Northwestern University found that reviews are especially impactful for new or unknown brands and products. It makes sense, then, that 72 percent of online grocery shoppers indicate that they are more likely to purchase a grocery item they’ve never purchased before if there are customer reviews for that product.

In-store grocery shoppers

Grocery shopping is a sensory experience—much more so than shopping for other product categories. Consumers who shop in a store have the opportunity to touch, smell and even taste items to assess their quality and freshness. When it comes to purchasing items online, shelf-stable goods are the most popular (58 percent) compared to 49 percent of shoppers who purchase personal care items (such as soap, shampoo and body wash) and 45 percent who purchase home care items (such as detergent and cleaners).

Similar to the online shopper, in-store consumers want access to user generated content where they shop. It makes sense, then, that the majority (68 percent) of in-store grocery shoppers are at least somewhat interested in accessing product ratings and reviews while shopping for new products in a grocery store. Of in-store shoppers, 52 percent are more likely to purchase a grocery item they’ve never purchased before if the product has reviews.

It is important that retailers understand the changing dynamic of the shopper and adjust their approach to meet their evolving expectations, says the study. With Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, grocery retailers must accelerate their omnichannel strategies, in particular the role of user generated content (UGC) across channels. Shoppers have become increasing reliant on other shoppers’ feedback, or UGC, to make purchasing decisions. Retailers who provide and display that information upfront can attract and retain customers.

Read the full PowerReviews study here.

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