Online grocery shopping is about to take off. Not in the rapid and massive way, but in a more incremental and steady fashion. At least that is what industry voices are predicting.
Chances are we’ll all be buying our groceries online in the near future. In fact, one third of consumers are already doing it. In a recent article by the Path to Purchase Institute, shopper marketing firm Integrated Marketing Services unveils the details of a study of online consumer behavior. A considerable majority of grocery trips are still happening in brick-and-mortar stores. However, the study clearly identifies an emerging marketplace for online grocery shopping. The online grocery market is in fact forcasted to grow to $25 billion by 2014, according to Nielsen. Most of the shopping is currently taking place at Amazon.com and Walmart.com, but drugstore websites like CVS.com and Walgreens are also gaining popularity.
Why it’s different now
So, what makes the consumers want to buy their groceries online? First of all, there’s no checkout line and shoppers avoid the hassle of crowded parking lots. Many people will be more than willing to drop store trips from their busy schedules. Research conducted by Coca-Cola shows that the average supermarket trip takes 43 minutes. In comparison, an online grocery shopping only takes 7 minutes. The Integrated study suggests that price and ease of use are the strongest selling points for marketers in online grocery shopping.
But why is this happening now? In an interview with The Shopper Insighter, Darren Marshall, VP of Global Shopper Development at Coca-Cola, points out how the marketplace for online grocery shopping has changed dramatically: “From a supply chain side, the models that online retailers are using today are different and much lower cost. From a revenue stream perspective, people are now very used to interacting in a digital world.”
The Integrated study shows that Gen Y-ers (21 to 33) are becoming a true grocery demographic. Their members have a preference for digital technology that makes online grocery shopping a natural fit. Gen X and Baby Boomers can’t be left out either, as they continue to go digital.
“To remain shopper-centric, CPGs have to be relevant in offline and online environments – to treat them as a continuum,” says Valerie Bernstein, vice president, client services at Integrated. To stay ahead, marketers need to take grocery shopping into account when developing online strategies.
What does this mean?
This means that CPGs and retailers need to plan for market shifts, otherwise they might risk losing valuable customers. Online grocery shopping will not increase consumer demand, but could lead to dramatic shifts in customer loyalty. Stay ahead of the change and don’t fear cannibalization of in-store sales, as long as you’re the one doing the eating. But be aware of the implications. When you lose the face-to-face interaction that in-store shopping provides, be sure to still stay in touch with your customers with the tools you have. Social media is a great way to fill that need, and to keep and capture loyal customers.
Shoppers with a history of brand purchases are for example more effective in social media marketing, which is something we at BzzAgent prove to clients in campaign after campaign. That’s why we combine dunnhumby shopper insights with your target demographics profile and social influence scores to find the best advocates for your brand. These are the ones who will keep talking about you brand for a long time. This way, CPGs and retailers can effectively engage consumers and drive them to purchase- wherever that purchase may take place in the future.ReTweet