Chicago — Consumers who buy groceries online are a small demographic with huge sales potential that retailers should pursue, research from The Hartman Group, Inc. advises.
According to the report “The Online Grocery Shopper 2013,” although 14 percent of U.S. households buy the majority of their groceries online, this demographic tends to be young, urban, affluent, technology oriented, living with other people and within walking distance of a grocery store, yet for many reasons, they turn to the Internet to shop. In addition, they shop and spend more per month than traditional shoppers.
Reasons for choosing one venue or another differ dramatically. Hartman’s research found 39 percent of those who shop online do so to save time and almost as many (36 percent), to save money. Twenty-seven percent log on to save gas or avoid driving, and another 15 percent go online to order large quantities of food. Half of consumer visits to brick-and-mortar stores (47 percent) are to stock up on groceries and another 25 percent are to replenish shrinking supplies. Twelve percent of traditional shoppers buy for a specific occasion; 11 percent want something for immediate consumption.
The key to capturing their business is to make their initial online shopping visit intuitive and value-rich, Hartman suggests, noting that 32 percent of primary household grocery shoppers intend to buy candy and snacks, personal care or tissue products online at some time this year. Retailers should rethink the role of online versus in-store shopping and develop complementary experiences for both realms that encourage shoppers to patronize both channels, the report advises. Further, manufacturers should forge partnerships that enable them to directly reach the consumer.
Providing first-time visitors with a comprehensive interactive tutorial that guides them through the site and seasoned shoppers with shortcuts and customized experiences can eliminate frustration and increase return visits. Finally, it’s important to build distribution networks, particularly locally, to ensure quick delivery, fresher items and access to local brands, Hartman suggests.
Online grocery shopping will grow 9.5 percent annually, reaching $9.4 billion by 2017, according to market research firm IBISWorld.