Relatively few online grocery shoppers, but offline shoppers still have digital needs
Selling groceries online has never quite lived up to the potential that was once predicted. Most consumers, as it turns out, have been slow to give up the in-store shopping experience.
“What is changing—and rapidly—is how likely grocery shoppers are to use a variety of digital tools to research and plan purchases, whether or not those purchases ultimately are made online,” said Krista Garcia, eMarketer analyst and author of the new report, “US Digital Grocery Shopping: Meeting Demand at Home, In-Aisle and On the Go.” “These tools are affecting how brick-and-mortar retailers sell groceries, and how supermarkets and customers interact.”
While many consumers are doing pre-purchase research ahead of going to the grocery store, a much smaller percentage are actually buying groceries online. April 2011 data from AlixPartners found that just 2% of total grocery spending was attributed to the online channel. But while the user base may be small, it’s active. Only twenty-four percent of internet users surveyed by Allrecipes.com in March 2012 had ever bought groceries online, but among those who had done so in the past year, 43% shopped online weekly and 12% monthly.
While online sales make up only a tiny fraction of total grocery sales, a significant subset of grocery shoppers are using online and mobile tools as part of the shopping process. Grocery shoppers are familiar with and rely on a range of technologies to help them research products, find the best value and plan meals. An Empathica survey covering technologies, in-store and out, found that more than half of consumers valued an “easy-to-use” website, and nearly as many said they were interested in offers sent to email or mobile phones.
“Over time, digital innovations will play a significant role in the success or failure of offline grocery stores,” said Garcia. “Meanwhile, a number of retailers have begun to get more imaginative in their approaches to marketing and selling.”
The full report, “US Digital Grocery Shopping: Meeting Demand at Home, In-Aisle and On the Go,” also answers these key questions:
- What are the most useful digital shopper marketing tools?
- How do grocery shoppers use smartphones in-store?
- Who buys groceries online?
This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. Total Access clients, log in and view the report now.
Check out today’s other articles, “Home Is Where the Tablet Is” and “Tencent’s Qzone Still Reigns in China Despite Sina Weibo’s Buzz.”