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In just two years, the percentage of shoppers that have bought groceries online in the past 30 days has doubled, according to a new report from Brick Meets Click, which reveals how rapidly consumers are making online grocery part of their routine and how often they are using the service.
The findings in the study – "How Consumers Are Using Online Grocery and What It Means for Retailers in 2016" – highlight what’s at stake for the grocery industry.
“The tide is rising. One in five U.S. consumers is now an active user of online grocery services, and these shoppers are a valuable group,” says Bill Bishop, chief architect of Brick Meets Click (BMC) and primary author of the new study. “Active users spend an average of 16 percent of their weekly grocery dollars online, and that grows to 64 percent on weeks they do a major online grocery trip.”
Three Types of Online Grocery Trips
The study further sheds light on how consumers are using online grocery. “Many retailers may be surprised to learn that when shoppers buy groceries online, they divide their shopping differently as they search for better ways to satisfy their needs,” explains Bishop.
Three distinct trip types emerged from the survey responses: (1) specific product shopping; (2) major grocery shopping; and (3) subscription-based shopping.
- At 60 percent of trips, specific product shopping was by far the most common type of trip.
- Major grocery shopping accounted for 15 percent of trips, but it still represents a big opportunity for supermarkets because of its relatively large basket sizes (typically 21+ items) and higher rate of intended repeat purchases.
- Subscription-based shopping followed with 12 percent of trips.
12,000 Shoppers Surveyed
Completed in the fourth quarter of 2015, the survey of more than 12,000 grocery shoppers in three metropolitan areas across the country is a continuation of BMC’s ongoing research into how U.S. shoppers are incorporating digital tools into grocery shopping. The company has been tracking consumers’ online grocery habits since 2012.
The study addresses two key questions of paramount importance:
- How are consumers building online options into their grocery shopping, and how fast are they moving?
- What will this mean in terms of opportunities for top line growth and threats to current business?
- Online grocery shopping is going mainstream: 41 percent of shoppers surveyed have given it a try at some point.
- Penetration has doubled: 21 percent of the shoppers surveyed bought groceries online in the month before the 2015 survey, up from 11 percent in 2013.
- Active users of online grocery services are spending a significant percentage of their weekly grocery dollars online – 16 percent on average.
- Specific product shopping for a limited number of products is the most common type of online grocery trip at 61 percent; the second most common is major grocery shopping with just 15 percent of trips.
- Major online grocery shopping and subscription-based trips create strong bonds with customers. Seventy percent of shoppers who described their last trip as “major grocery shopping” say they’ll repeat with that retailer, and 76 percent of the subscription-based shoppers say so. Only 60 percent of specific-item shoppers intend to be repeat customers.