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Survey: Online grocery shopping grows in certain directions


Consumers are buying groceries online in increasing numbers, but are following specific trends.

According to a new survey of 12,000 U.S. grocery shoppers conducted by grocery retail consultancy Brick Meets Click and sponsored by SAP hybris, the percentage of U.S. consumers that have purchased groceries online in the past 30 days nearly doubled to 21% in the fourth quarter of 2015 from 11% in 2013. Forty-one percent of consumers have purchased groceries online at some point.

However, consumers shopping for groceries online display some trends. For example, 61% of online grocery shoppers said their most recent visit was to purchase a specific item they could not easily find or buy in brick-and-mortar stores. Only 15% performed major grocery shopping, and 12% engaged in subscription-based shopping that automatically replenishes key items.

In addition to more consumers buying groceries online, the frequency of online grocery shopping is also increasing. Twenty-three percent of grocery shoppers are active online users who made their purchase in the last seven to 90 days and plan to do so again in the next 90 days.

Another 12% are occasional users who bought groceries online 90 or more days ago but plan to do so again in the next 90 days. Six percent are inactive users who have purchased groceries online at least once but do not intend to shop for groceries online again, and 59% have never bought groceries online.

Unsurprisingly, active users are the most valuable online grocery shoppers. They spend an average of 16% of their weekly grocery dollars online. That figure rises to 64% during weeks active users perform major grocery shopping online.

Thirty-three percent of active users increased their online grocery spending over the past year. Eleven percent spent less in 2015 than the prior year. The remaining 56% reported spending the same as they did the year before.

For occasional, inactive and non-users, a desire to pick their own produce proved a major impediment to online grocery shopping. Sixty-three percent of occasional users, 69% of inactive users and 59% of non-users said they like to select their own fruits and vegetables.

Other leading barriers to online grocery shopping included wanting to touch, smell and see groceries (47% occasional, 51% inactive, 49% non-users) and wanting to take advantage of special in-store deals (41% occasional, 45% inactive, 39% non-users).

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