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U.S. Online Grocery Shoppers Spend More, Struggle More Financially

Consumer Data Tracker from dunnhumby also found such consumers to be less loyal
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According to a recent report from dunnhumby, omnichannel shoppers spend 1.5 times more on groceries than in-store-only shoppers, but spread their dollars between up to twice as many retailers.

U.S. online grocery shoppers spend more, struggle more financially and are less loyal, dunnhumby’s Consumer Trends Tracker has found. According to the customer data science provider’s report, omnichannel shoppers spend 1.5 times more on groceries than in-store-only shoppers, but spread their dollars between up to twice as many retailers. Further, households that shop online are 6% more likely to have skipped/shrunk the size of a meal for financial reasons, and are 10% more likely to have a hard time paying for an unexpected expense. 

The Consumer Trends Tracker posits that these differences are attributable to the greater likelihood that omnichannel shoppers have children and pets as part of their households, which would require them to spend more on groceries and can make balancing household budgets less predictable because of the varying demands of those households’ inhabitants.

“What really stands out in this report is that while 60% of all households with children are doing some of their shopping online and despite being higher earners on average than brick-and-mortar-only shoppers, they are struggling more financially, and some reported they have had to skip or cut back on meals,” noted Grant Steadman, president for North America at Chicago-based dunnhumby. “This indicates an evolution from the orthodoxy that the online and omnichannel shoppers value convenience above all and are not price-sensitive. This study suggests that is not always the case.” 

The report also discovered that perceived out-of-stocks online are 7% higher than in-store, revealing the need for e-commerce, as a retail channel, to better deliver on operational fundamentals. The result of this is that omnichannel shoppers visit as many as 6.6 retailers monthly, making them a valuable but hard-to-win customer segment.

Key findings from the study are as follows:

  • E-commerce shoppers have more time and financial pressures than brick-and-mortar-only shoppers. The report found that 70% of in-store shoppers versus 72% of online shoppers said that it was very or extremely important that their preferred retailer had prices that were lower than other retailers – numbers that are almost the same. When forced to make trade-offs, however, e-commerce shoppers more carefully balance time savings with money savings, while brick-and-mortar shoppers are twice as likely to select a store because of prices. This reflects the busier lifestyle of the average omnichannel shopper, who’s much more likely to be a caregiver of children or pets, and has the added stress of not only balancing budgets, but also of balancing time.
  • Online and omnichannel shoppers spend more on groceries than in-store only shoppers, but they’re less loyal. The vast majority of the 45% of consumers who shop for groceries online are omnichannel shoppers. Their monthly average grocery spend is $594 per month versus $388 for in-store-only shoppers.  Online shoppers spread their dollars across a greater number of retailers monthly, though: between 3.9 to 6.6 stores per month, compared with 3.2 for in-store only.
  • The channels with the highest e-commerce penetration are mass (29%), traditional format (24%) and pure play (17%), in absolute terms. In relative terms, mass, convenience and drug stores are the best at converting brick-and-mortar shoppers to online shoppers, while dollar stores and discounters are the least effective at this.
  • Shoppers are less adventurous with their online shopping missions versus brick and mortar, carrying out three times more mission types in brick and mortar stores than online. Nonfood-focused shopping trips are the least common in-store, but the most common online. Other popular online categories, reflecting the young-family shopper, include baby care, ready-to-eat items, organic products and alcohol.
  • Brick-and-mortar-only shoppers can still be digital customers, as almost one in five current in-store-only shoppers interact with a store’s app.  They use it mainly to browse weekly ads/circulars, check their available rewards/points/coupons and plan their shopping lists.

The dunnhumby Consumer Trends Tracker launched in May to more than 2,000 consumers online, representing the U.S. grocery shopper nationwide. The report is designed to uncover shoppers’ needs, perceptions and behaviors over time, and to complement dunnhumby’s Retailer Preference Index, which measures the strength of retailers’ customer value proposition. The Consumer Trends Tracker is part of “The dunnhumby Quarterly,” a new multidimensional analysis of key retail trends, with the first edition being focused on e-commerce.

[Click here to register for dunnhumby's July 21 webinar, "Winning in eCommerce: Insights from the dunnhumby eCommerce Retailer Preference Index."]

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