Midyear Assessment of E-Grocery

Brick Meets Click/Mercatus insights reveal lower YoY online sales, continued resilience in pickup model
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
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Data from Brick Meets Click's latest benchmarking report on e-grocery.

Some new numbers are in on e-grocery sales, and show that the online grocery market in the United States topped $7.1 billion in June. The latest Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Shopping Survey reveals that e-comm sales continue to slow, down 1.2% last month on a year-over-year (YoY) basis and 1.8% off for the first six months of this year compared to the front half of 2022.

Continuing a trend that the monthly survey has pointed to for much of 2023, pickup sales expanded 3.2% last month and are up 1.3% for the first six months of the year compared to the same period last year. According to the Brick Meets Click/Mercatus data, pickup accounted for nearly half (49%) of all e-comm sales in June, ahead of delivery and ship-to-home, both of which experienced declines during the first month of summer. At the midway point of 2023, lower delivery and ship-to-home sales helped spur a 100 basis-point drop in e-grocery’s year-to-date contribution to total grocery sales.

[Read more: "How Regional Grocers Can Compete With Walmart’s Online Price Advantage"]

The latest report, which also found that the overall intent rate was flat in June following three months of declines, underscores the still-evolving nature of the e-grocery market. “To elevate customer engagement, regional grocers need to improve the perceived value associated with the online shopping experience,” declared Sylvain Perrier, president and CEO at Mercatus. “To achieve this, grocers can focus their efforts on areas like leveraging personalized recommendation algorithms to provide more relevant product suggestions based on individual preferences and past purchases, optimizing the platform’s usability to reduce points of friction, and offering personalized discounts, digital coupons, and loyalty rewards.”

David Bishop, partner at Brick Meets Click, noted that the market is still in a settling-out phase. “Our 5-year forecast anticipated that 2023 would be a challenging year for e-grocery so these results generally align with our expectations,” he remarked. “So, while ship-to-home declines and delivery has mixed results, pickup’s stronger performance isn’t surprising as it is becoming more widely available and helps customers who want to shop online save money, which is certainly helpful in the current market.”

In other news highlighting the ebb and flow of e-comm in today's market, fresh research from SymphonyAI Retail CPG shows that 52% of e-commerce grocery shoppers left the digital channel over the past year. The data also found that although total online revenue growth declined 1% in the third quarter of 2023 on a YoY basis, there was a 14% net drop in the total number of online shoppers. Moreover, online customers that reverted back to physical stores reduced their overall spend by 16%, a sign that they may be shopping for grocers in other stores and channels.

“The overall decline in online customers and their impact on e-commerce growth is significant,” said Laetitia Berthier, head of client engagement for SymphonyAI Retail CPG. “Contrary to expectations, the losses are coming not from shoppers who were forced online during the height of the pandemic, but rather those shoppers who had moved online after the pandemic. It’s critical for retailers to understand those customer dynamics and their fast-changing needs to succeed in the critical online channel.”

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