The Evolution of Online Grocery Shopping

A recent SupermarketNews article shared insights into how the dynamics of the online grocery market have changed.

Not only are more shoppers using online grocery options than before COVID, but they are also split in which “type” of online platform they prefer.

This nuance bodes well for how conventional grocers can strengthen their online grocery services to improve performance, because it turns out they aren’t really competing with the mass merchandisers who are far more developed in executing their respective online strategies and who operate on a much larger scale.

“We know from Brick Meets Click’s monthly e-shopper research that today’s shoppers choose to place online grocery orders with mass merchandisers for very different reasons than when they choose to place online orders with conventional grocers,” the article said. “In this context, mass rivals are not conventional grocers’ most meaningful competitor.”

A few additional data points from their research that conventional retailers should consider include:

  • In 2019, stores that had operated an online grocery service for a longer period of time reported higher weekly sales. This correlation no longer exists. COVID has changed the circumstances that drive adoption and usage.
  • The impact of a store’s service area population has also shifted. In 2019, stores in the largest markets generated the highest level of weekly sales; today, stores in mid-sized markets reported the strongest sales. In high-population areas, there is simply more competition for online grocery spending than there used to be. This makes it harder to grow without expanding in other ways.
  • Offering customers a choice between pickup and delivery instead of just one option continues to have a significant impact on sales.