Consumers are spending more time and money online, but companies considering expanding into grocery e-tailing should pull up a chair and settle in. It’s going to take a while to break consumers’ food shopping and eating habits, says The Hartman Group’s The Online Grocery Shopper report. The research examined contemporary food culture and shopper engagement in digital technologies and provides a framework for understanding the pitfalls and opportunities in online grocery retailing.
“The way we buy and eat food is very cultural and habitual,” said Tamara Barnett, The Hartman Group’s director of strategic insights. “It’s going to take a little while to break those habits and get people thinking about buying groceries online.”
Today’s online grocery shopper is a high-value customer, spending more and shopping more every month than those who do not use the online grocery channel. About two in ten (18%) U.S. households went online in the past three months to buy food, beverages, or groceries. Of these, 75% purchased 5% or more online, and 20% purchased at least half online.
“Online grocery shopping represents a natural evolution in how consumers are living their lives concurrently in both the physical and digital worlds,” said Laurie Demeritt, The Hartman Group’s CEO. “Future growth of the online grocery channel will be driven by two key factors: 1) breaking well-entrenched habits (both emotional and physical) associated with in-store shopping and 2) being ready to help customers find and navigate the online grocery channel when situational triggers arise.”
A confluence of cultural conditions—busy, urban lifestyles, site awareness, and mobile-technology integration, in addition to situational triggers (which are often unexpected changes in life circumstances)—propels the initiation of online grocery shopping. Retailers and manufacturers that are ready to deliver the right experience for these newcomers will ultimately have the greatest opportunity to gain share in this online channel.