Food: Bet in and Boost Online Sales

People are more interested in buying food online, but is the grocery market ready for this?

According to Nielsen, the omnichannel retail landscape will shift significantly in 2024. In 2023, online sales surpassed in-store sales by nearly three times the rate. Online sales increased by 11%, accounting for 17.3% of total sales, while in-store sales only grew by 4%. The food sector presents the greatest opportunity for online sales growth. However, the online grocery market is still behind other categories.

Stores Are Shrinking

According to NIQ, traditional stores are shrinking. From 2009 to 2022, square footage in supercenters (-5%), supermarkets (-3.5%), dollar stores (-0.4%), and drug stores (-13.3%) decreased.

E-commerce sales made up 15.6% of total US sales in the third quarter of 2023, a sign of rapid growth and changing consumer expectations.


The growth of e-commerce is tied to the rise of Omni shopping. In the US, 86% of Consumer-Packaged Goods (CPG) dollar sales are from “omnichannel shoppers.” This means consumers are buying CPG products through every channel, often simultaneously. More than one in five (22%) shoppers now plan an in-store shopping trip combined with a prior online order.

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Online Sales: Groceries, Health and Convenience

The rise of e-commerce and online shopping has led to increased competition for digital shelf space among Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) brands. Healthy eating is now a permanent shift in consumer behavior, and supporting shoppers on their nutritional journeys is crucial. Online shopping continues to grow, especially in grocery and personal care categories, where convenience and variety are key factors in purchasing decisions.


Consumers are increasingly interested in sustainability, with 95% making an effort to live more sustainably. The grocery industry has an opportunity to align its products and marketing with this demand. However, 26% of shoppers need help finding sustainable products online.


Grocery brands should also consider their omnichannel shoppers when planning out promotions. Customers need a reason to interact with both physical and online purchase paths. If the promotion only targets one channel, retailers may miss out on sales in another. However, it is also essential to identify the omnichannel split and determine which consumers are the most likely to give the best benefits from a promotion. If all online sales occur on promotion, there may be an issue.