Exclusive Q&A: Keeping up with the evolving omnichannel shopper

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
Dan Berthiaume profile picture
Barbara Connors
Barbara Connors, VP of commercial insights, 84.51°

COVID-19 may have accelerated omnichannel shopping adoption, but a variety of factors are driving its evolution forward.

Barbara Connors, VP of commercial insights at 84.51°, the data analytics subsidiary of Kroger, recently sat down with Chain Store Age to discuss how the omnichannel commerce landscape is continuing to change two years into the COVID-19 pandemic. She also explained how retailers can adapt to meet the needs of the modern shopper beyond pandemic-related concerns.

How is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic affecting e-commerce adoption?
E-commerce adoption accelerated significantly in 2020 with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and catapulted us into an omnichannel retail world. Adoption has particularly stuck with millennials, who are solidifying their adult shopping routines. Eighty-five percent of omnichannel shoppers now plan to either maintain their elevated usage of e-commerce or accelerate even further in the coming year.

As e-commerce adoption has grown, the drivers of usage have also evolved. Health concerns drove many to initially try e-commerce in 2020, but it is convenience that now keeps so many shoppers in this ecosystem.

Who are the modern hybrid shoppers?
Hybrid shoppers are consumers who leverage both e-commerce and in-store trips to fulfill different grocery needs. A broad spectrum of shoppers exists, as people gain comfort and confidence in leveraging e-commerce. Shoppers on both ends of the spectrum are overwhelmingly likely to be millennials, though there is also a subset of older shoppers who are highly loyal to delivery.

On the low end of e-commerce adoption, shoppers are more likely to be highly price sensitive, part of larger families, and limit their e-commerce usage to center store purchases. Shoppers on the high end of adoption are less price sensitive and more health conscious. Additionally, they are more comfortable leveraging e-commerce for the entirety of their grocery needs. 

[Read more: Exclusive Q&A: Kroger sees ‘hybrid shoppers’ as the future of e-commerce]

What new habits and preferences are consumers forming in the wake of the pandemic?
Consumers are creating new habit and routines, and the expansion of e-commerce options is enabling them to fit grocery shopping into their lives in a more seamless way. It has enabled consumers to shift when they receive their groceries, increasing popularity across more days of the week and times of the day. 

Additionally, consumers are creating clearer preferences about when they go in store and when they shop online. In-store shopping is the preferred method to complete special trips, small trips, and when consumers want to compare options. However, e-commerce is now the preferred choice for the main stock-up trip, particularly for the time-starved parent.

How can retailers meet the changing needs of modern (post-pandemic) consumers?
Convenience is paramount, and consumers are consistently looking for new ways to streamline their shopping experience and make smarter choices. As an example, 40% of omnichannel shoppers claim a key benefit of e-commerce is its ability to help them save money by avoiding impulse purchases. At the same time, impulse indulgences are evolving from traditional immediate consumption categories, like candy and soda, to social enablers, like alcohol and beauty.

Retailers who deliver both efficiency and inspiration, and help consumers complete their grocery orders easily, completely, and with confidence will be poised to deliver on the increased expectations of modern hybrid shoppers.