Study: Grocery shopping — the new online frontier

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Study: Grocery shopping — the new online frontier

By Deena M. Amato-McCoy - 09/19/2017

Grocers that offer digital resources on e-commerce sites are positioned to attract, convert and retain online customers going forward.

This was according to “Beyond the Supermarket Shelves: How Consumers are Navigating the Grocery Shopping Experience Online and In-store,” a report from PowerReviews.

With only 17% of shoppers currently purchasing their groceries online, it is clear that customers are not abandoning brick-and-mortar stores. In fact, among those shoppers, 92% have also made an in-store grocery purchase in the last 90 days.

However, customers residing in a city have more availability to online grocery retailers, making them more likely to shop online. Nearly a quarter (23%) of consumers living in a city with a population of 500,000 or more have made an online grocery purchase in the last 90 days, compared to 10% of consumers who reside in towns with a population of less than 50,000.

Customers are also using e-commerce sites as a resource. For example, ratings and reviews have become a key part of the path to purchase, regardless of the product a consumer is shopping for. Online grocery is no exception. If reviews are available on an online grocery service’s website, 93% of shoppers will read them at least occasionally, research revealed.

Cleary, grocery shopping is a sensory experience — one that gives in-store consumers the opportunity to touch, smell and even taste items to assess their quality and freshness. So when it comes to purchasing items online, shelf-stable goods are the most popular (58%), compared to 49% of shoppers who purchase personal care items (such as soap, shampoo and body wash), and 45% purchase home care items (such as detergent and cleaners).

Similar to the online shopper, in-store consumers want access to user generated content where they shop. It makes sense, then, that the majority (68%) of in-store grocery shoppers are at least somewhat interested in accessing product ratings and reviews while shopping for new products in a grocery store. Among in-store shoppers, 52% are more likely to purchase a grocery item they’ve never purchased before if the product has reviews.

It is important that retailers understand the changing dynamic of the shopper and adjust their approach to meet their evolving expectations. With Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, grocery retailers must accelerate their omnichannel strategies, in particular the role of user generated content (UGC) across channels, shoppers have become increasing reliant on other shoppers feedback or UGC to make purchasing decisions. Retailers who provide and display that information upfront can attract and retain customers, the study said.

“Traditional retailers have been grappling with the effects of e-commerce for several years. The Amazon effect continues to put pressure on revenue, operations and shopper expectations,” said Matt Moog, CEO, PowerReviews.

“We are beginning to see a similar pattern in the grocery marketplace,” he added. “Although the vast majority of shoppers (90%) still opt to visit a brick-and-mortar store, grocery retailers have a perfect opportunity to get ahead of what promises to be a disruptive trend, and build an omnichannel grocery strategy that effectively engages shoppers wherever they’re shopping.”

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