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Online Grocery Preferences Take Clearer Shape

Brick Meets Click/Mercatus survey reveals penchant for pickup/delivery, plus movement toward online purchases from mass retailers
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer

The dust is settling a bit on consumer e-commerce preferences, with the latest Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Shopping Survey showing continued strength in the pickup/delivery model and a slide in ship-to-home sales. 

According to Brick Meets Click/Mercatus, the online grocery market in the United States racked up $8 billion in sales in September, with $6.4 billion of that total coming from the pickup/delivery segment and $1.7 from home shipments. Ship-to-home sales dipped 10% from August 2020 to September 2021, while pickup/delivery sales shot up 56% in that same time frame. (Comparable Sept 2020 to Sept 2021 data was not available.)

“The combined pickup and delivery segment now captures nearly 80% of sales in the U.S. e-grocery market, and pickup hit a record-high portion of total sales in our September research wave, underscoring its critical role in a grocer’s strategy,” observed David Bishop, partner at Brick Meets Click.

If there’s greater definition about consumer preferences between ship-to-home and pickup/delivery, there are also more indications that consumers are shopping at both grocery stores and mass merchandisers/supercenters, and mass channels are outpacing grocery stores for their share of online orders. Repeat intent rates for grocery stores were almost 6% lower than those of larger retailers like Walmart and Target in September, the survey showed.

Such findings highlight the role that e-commerce can make in differentiating a business. “Conventional grocers need to take a closer look at their local market dynamics to understand how well they are performing online,” said Sylvain Perrier, president and CEO of Mercatus.  “The mass merchandisers continue to set the pace and define the standard for digital grocery against which other retailers’ services are increasingly evaluated. Now more than ever, it’s essential for grocery retailers to align their operational processes with a best-in-class customer experience to retain a competitive edge.”

Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, while Minneapolis-based Target Corp. is No. 6.

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September 2021 findings from Brick Meets Click/Mercatus.
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