Despite the big push behind e-grocery, including significant investments in technology and delivery by major retailers such as Target and Amazon and mainline grocers such as Kroger, Ahold Delhaize and Albertson’s, the demand isn’t quite there yet, according to a recent survey from Mercatus.
Based on the survey of 53,000 shoppers across seven major regional grocers throughout the U.S., only 26% considered themselves online buyers, with most being recent entrants to the channel. And of those, just over half have shopped online for groceries only once or twice in the past three months.
The surveys also found 70% of shoppers have been grocery shopping online less than two years, with 45% of them starting within the past year.
In terms of desired technology capabilities, 42% of survey respondents expressed an interest in self-checkout, 21% said they wanted to compare shopping prices from mobile devices while in store and 18% wanted to be able to build mobile-friendly shopping lists from a grocer’s website. The ability to receive personalized offers and coupons online or opt for delivery or curbside pickup are also popular features for grocery shoppers.
A subsequent consumer poll by Mercatus found that 63% of those who shop online for groceries do so for convenience, 56% for time savings and 30% to better control spending.
While the number of consumers identifying themselves as e-grocery shoppers is relatively small, those who identified as grocery store shoppers still purchase a number of items online that could be purchased in a grocery store. For instance, 23% said they bought beauty supplies online in the past three months, while 18% said they had picked up pet supplies via ecommerce.
“The danger for grocers sitting out the ecommerce trend is that their basket size and variety might be slowly shrinking incrementally as they lose these items to online offerings,” Mercatus said in its report. “At some point, a tipping point happens for many shoppers when they realize they can greatly expand their online purchase in an effort to drive the value and convenience of what they purchase.”
Regional grocers have thus far been able to hold their own against the behemoth of Walmart by scoring higher on customer satisfaction, Mercatus found. “However, the local advantage won’t last forever if convenience and value turn into grocery habit,” the report stated. “By offering ecommerce that can accommodate diverse shopper needs to their arsenal of charm, regional grocers can shield their margins from these advances.”
You can access the entire report here.