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Digital Grocery Shoppers in the UK Less Likely to Act on Impulse

Internet users spend more when shopping for groceries online than in-store

April 21, 2014 | Retail & Ecommerce

Grocery shoppers in the UK display a preference for shopping in-store. But this comes against a backdrop of rapidly rising digital grocery sales. And while shoppers heading online for their groceries may appear to offer retailers many benefits, it also presents some potential issues. According to a December 2013 study by Mintel, 34% of UK internet users who shopped for groceries online consequently made fewer impulse purchases than when in a supermarket. Only 9% said they made more unplanned buys online vs. in-store.

Attitudes Toward Impulse Purchases Among UK Online Grocery Shoppers, Dec 2013 (% of respondents)

By actively promoting their digital shopping channels, grocery retailers, it seems, may be losing out on a secondary, and serendipitous, revenue stream. They should therefore think carefully about attempting to replicate that in-store environment, whereby impulse buys are but a few strides away from the milk aisle. And if they can work this into the digital shopping experience, they stand to win big.

Average Retail Spend According to Internet Users in Great Britain, by Product Category and Purchase Channel, Sep 2013 (in £)

A September 2013 study from Deloitte found that internet users in Great Britain spent, on average, £57 ($89.06) when shopping for groceries online, vs. just £37 ($57.81) when in-store.

This more than 50% uplift in spend when shopping for groceries online may be due to several factors—getting everything in one hit, being tempted to overbuy heavier items, or simply being able to find things more easily. But whatever the reasons for this propensity to spend more when shopping for groceries online, if impulse buys were somehow added into the mix, the potential for digital grocery retailers could be huge.

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