What Drives Today’s Hybrid Shoppers?

New omnichannel report from 84.51° affirms more entrenched attitudes around convenience, substitutions and order fulfillment
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
84.51 omnichannel
Many omnichannel shoppers say that buying online is less stressful for them.

Omnichannel shoppers may buy in many places, but their behaviors can be pinned down. A new report from the 84.51° retail data science arm of The Kroger Co. sheds light into today’s hybrid consumers as the e-commerce marketplace continues to evolve. The base used for the study included those who shopped both online and in-store at Kroger over the past 52 weeks. 

Convenience remains the primary driver among those who toggle between in-store visits and online grocery shopping. According to 84.51°’s "Omnichannel Special Report," more than 80% of shoppers who use pickup or delivery cite convenience as their main reason for ordering that way. 

[RELATED: Mixed Bag for January E-Commerce]

The interpretation of convenience goes beyond location. Nearly half (46%) say that they spend less time ordering online compared to their in-store visits and 58% report that it is less stressful to buy groceries from their devices. 

As one might expect, hybrid customers skew younger and lead busy lifestyles. This research indicates that shoppers who opt for pickup or delivery are more likely to be part of the Millennial and Gen Z demographic, are parents of children and have a high convenience focus. 

Omnichannel shoppers do have certain and often-shared standards in the digital space, with eight in 10 respondents noting that order accuracy and availability are important when shopping online and nearly a quarter (23%) saying that they will buy elsewhere if items are out of stock. Tracking with common perceptions, omnichannel shoppers often opt to buy paper products, shelf-stable goods and household cleaning supplies online and prefer to buy fresh items in person; about 75% of hybrid consumers claim they would rather pick out fresh produce, bakery items and deli, meat or seafood products in brick-and-mortar stores.

Similarly, when it comes to substitutions, hybrid consumers are most willing to accept a retailer’s suggested swaps for shelf-stable products, paper goods and household cleaning items. They are least willing to allow substitutions in health, beauty, pet and deli/met/seafood categories. 

The latest 84.51° findings also reveal preferences in how orders are handled. Nearly two-thirds (61%) of omnichannel shoppers like their orders to be fulfilled directly by the retailer, while 24% do not have a preference and 5% want orders fulfilled by third-party services such as Instacart or Shipt.

Finally, the research fielded among hybrid Kroger shoppers over the past year affirms that customers divide their time and resources when buying groceries. Even omnichannel shoppers still make 83% of their trips in-store and 40% report that they shop mostly via e-commerce. 

Cincinnati-based Kroger has almost 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. The company is No. 4 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named Kroger one of the Retailers of the Century.

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