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Report: Online Grocery Shoppers Expect Omnichannel Convenience

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Acosta Group’s annual online grocery report reflects a slight uptick over last year, with 55 percent of shoppers buying groceries online at least some of the time. 

According to the report, the upward trend is driven by more consumers who are buying online regularly but still shopping mostly in-store.

Research was conducted July 7-13 with 1,308 U.S. primary online grocery shoppers. The Acosta Group Shopper Community comprises more than 40,000 demographically diverse consumers across the U.S.

“We learned in this year’s study that frequent online grocery shoppers are up to 50 percent more likely to purchase perishables such as breads and  pastries, dairy, produce and frozen for pick-up or delivery, which we attribute to a higher level of trust and familiarity with the fulfillment processes,” said Kathy Risch, SVP of consumer insights and trends.

When it comes to placing an order, 49 percent of online shoppers are starting at a retailer’s website or app with their lists, and 85 percent (90 percent of higher income shoppers) are using digital coupons.

For grocery pickup shoppers, 80 percent are also going into the store when picking up their orders, either because they forgot to buy an item online or they prefer to personally select specific items. This is a 10 percent increase over last year, reflecting consumers’ desire to have the in-store experience as well as the convenience of online shopping and pickup.

“We’ve seen that post-pandemic, consumers have returned to in-store shopping, and they want a seamless omnichannel experience where all items online are available at the same price as in store, and all items in store are available for pickup and delivery,” Risch said.  

A key takeaway for brands and retailers: online grocery shoppers – especially Millennials – are likely to purchase and try new items and are very likely to buy on impulse.

Younger shoppers inform online grocery fulfillment   

As expected, convenience is valued when it comes to pickup and delivery fulfillment of orders. Most online grocery shoppers (63 percent) will consistently use one method.

Younger online grocery shoppers are heavy users of each – choosing delivery services at twice the rate of Boomers. The favored delivery providers are Instacart and Walmart+, followed by Prime, DoorDash and Uber Eats, with high satisfaction levels for these services.

“Delivery shoppers often want the items fast,” Risch said. “Thirty-eight percent are using delivery options of three-hours or less, and men are far more willing to pay a higher fee for speed.” 

For shoppers with limited flexibility who live in urban areas, have children or work outside the home, the delivery time frame window is critical.  

A key takeaway for brands and retailers: three in four Gen Z and Millennials are placing small orders for a single meal or recipe, reflecting a familiarity and comfort with the use and cost of delivery services.

Implications for retailers and brands

According to the Acosta Group study, 84 percent of online grocery shoppers report high satisfaction with the experience. It is estimated that sales will nearly double to $342 billion by the end of 2027, according to Insider Intelligence-Digital Grocery Buyers 2023.

“Today’s online grocery shoppers are younger and digitally savvy and are using online grocery shopping in new ways,” said John Carroll, president.

“Their expectations are set for convenience and accuracy, as well as an integrated experience across the digital and physical shelf.”

Future online grocery sales growth will come primarily from current buyers versus new buyers, so building trust through exceptional service, inspirational digital shelf content and personalized offers will be key.

Read more technology news from The Shelby Report.

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About the author

Sommer Stockton

Web Editor

Sommer joined The Shelby Report in January 2022 after graduating from Brenau University in Gainesville, GA with a B.A. and M.A. in Communications and Media Studies. Sommer is excited to learn about the grocery industry and share her findings with The Shelby Report's readers!

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