How Grocers Need to Adapt Now

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How Grocers Need to Adapt Now

By Gina Acosta - 04/09/2020
How Grocers Need to Adapt Now
Of the 38% of shoppers who ordered groceries online for home delivery, 37% reported making more orders in March.

Fast-changing shopper habits make it imperative that grocers focus on solutions that reduce the risk of shopper and employee transmission of the coronavirus, according to new research from Acosta.

The report, which found that 28% of online grocery shoppers made their first-ever online grocery order in March due to COVID-19, also provides guidance to help retailers and brands navigate the COVID-19 outbreak, which may last for many months.

"Our first round of research into consumer behavior was conducted just as this crisis was beginning to take shape in the U.S.," said Darian Pickett, CEO of Acosta. "This second round, conducted at the end of March, offers a stronger snapshot of current consumer behavior with 65 percent of respondents reporting they have changed their shopping habits due to COVID-19, compared to just 23 percent in our previous survey. As the number of cases unfortunately continues to rise and more states and counties impose quarantine measures, we expect to see further changes in consumer behavior in the coming weeks."

Acosta's second COVID-19 research report, gathered via online surveys between March 20 and 29, provides insight into shoppers' changing habits, as well as recommendations for retailers and brands.

When comparing channel shopping behaviors, many shoppers reported going to stores less frequently, especially mass merchandisers. Among those who shopped at a mass merchandiser in March, 47% reported making fewer trips. More shoppers indicated purchasing pantry food items in addition to cleaning items/paper products compared to Acosta's previous survey. About half of U.S. shoppers said they made an additional stock-up grocery trip in the past week.

Eighty-eight percent of shoppers experienced out-of-stocks, and of those shoppers, 47% found a substitute for half or more of their unavailable items.

While shoppers are making fewer grocery store trips compared to Acosta's previous survey, more shoppers are turning to grocery e-commerce.

  • Twenty-eight percent of online grocery shoppers made their first-ever online grocery order in March due to COVID-19.
  • Many consumers who had previously ordered groceries online reported ordering more frequently.
  • Of the 36% of shoppers who ordered groceries online for store pick-up, 33% reported making more orders in March.
  • Of the 38% of shoppers who ordered groceries online for home delivery, 37% reported making more orders in March.

Food retailers should be expanding online ordering fulfillment and pick-up/delivery time slots in order to meet the needs of new ecommerce shoppers who prefer not to shop in the store. Reports of days or weeks without delivery availability have been plaguing food retailers for at least a week.

Manufacturers should consider limiting production assortment to high velocity items to optimize manufacturing and replenishment. Manufacturers should also ensure their brand marketing messaging supports shoppers in these uncertain times, or consider temporarily discontinuing or adjusting the marketing message.

Acosta's research was gathered via online surveys using the company's proprietary shopper community between March 20 and 29, 2020. The report also includes comparison data from online surveys conducted between March 6 and 12, 2020. To access the full report, visit www.acosta.com/news.