Although a growing number of shoppers are turning to their computers or smart devices for grocery shopping, much progress remains to be made, as only 7 percent of U.S. consumers shopped online for groceries in the last month, according to The NPD Group. The biggest barrier? Being able to pick out one’s own fresh products.
The Port Washington, N.Y.-based research firm’s “The Virtual Grocery Store” study noted that online grocery shopping will grow at a faster rate than the early online pioneers, as consumers have already experienced the convenience of online shopping.
“In fact, 20 million consumers who are current, lapsed or new to online grocery shopping plan to increase their virtual shopping for foods and beverages over the next six months,” the study said.
However, in addition to wanting to select their own fresh food, many consumers simply enjoy shopping for groceries in a brick-and-mortar store, saying that walking the store reminds them of what else they need, or reveals new products to them. Additional barriers included higher costs associated with online grocery shopping – such as delivery and membership fees – and having to wait for delivery. This could change in the not-too-distant future, though, with Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods Market.
“Brick-and-mortar stores aren’t dead; they will just need to step up their game," said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. "There will continue to be a large percentage of the population who will prefer to shop at brick-and-mortar grocers. Brick-and-mortar food retailers should market the unique consumer needs they meet that online grocers aren’t currently offering, experience being a key one. At the same time, they need to keep up with the times and leverage digital ordering via their own click-and-collect programs as well as partnering with third parties for delivery in order to expand their offerings.”