Online Grocery Shoppers Demand Seamless Omnichannel Experience and Convenience

Acosta Group presents an in-depth look at shopper attitudes and preferences and online grocery delivery in its new annual online grocery shopping study. The report reflects the prevalence of omnichannel shopping and the online shopping fulfillment trends younger consumers are driving.

The Acosta Group study reflects a slight uptick in online grocery shopping over last year, with 55% of grocery shoppers buying groceries online at least some of the time. This upward trend is driven by more consumers who are shopping online regularly but still shopping mostly in-store.

“We learned in this year’s study that frequent online grocery shoppers are up to 50% more likely to purchase perishables such as breads & pastries, dairy, produce, and frozen for pick-up or delivery, which we attribute to a higher level of trust and familiarity with the fulfillment processes,” said Kathy Risch, SVP Consumer Insights and Trends, Acosta Group.

Online Grocery Shopper Behaviors

When it comes to placing an order, 49% of online shoppers start at a retailer’s website or app with their lists. And 85% (90% of higher-income shoppers) use digital coupons.

For grocery pickup shoppers, 80% are also going into the store when picking up their order. Either because they forgot to purchase an item online or they prefer to select specific items personally.

This is a 10% increase over last year, reflecting consumers’ growing desire to have the in-store experience as well as the convenience of online grocery shopping and pickup.

The retail grocery pickup channels most frequently shopped:

  • 68% Mass merchandisers
  • 55% Online-only retailers such as Amazon
  • 55% Grocery
  • 33% Club

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“We’ve seen that post-pandemic, consumers have returned to in-store shopping. They want a seamless omnichannel experience where all items online are available at the same price as in-store, and all items in-store are available for pickup and delivery,” said Risch. 

A key takeaway for brands and retailers: Online grocery shoppers, especially Millennials, are highly likely to purchase and try new items. They are very likely to buy on impulse.

Younger Shoppers Inform Online Grocery Fulfillment  

As expected, convenience is highly valued when it comes to pickup and delivery fulfillment of online orders. Most online grocery shoppers (63%) will consistently use one type of fulfillment method.

Younger online grocery shoppers are heavy users of each – using delivery services at twice the rate of Boomers. The favored delivery providers are Instacart and Walmart+. Followed by Prime, DoorDash, and Uber Eats, with high satisfaction levels for these services.

  • Store pickup: 60% of Millennials and 50% of Gen Z
  • Delivery to home: 62% of Millennials and 65% of Gen Z

“Delivery shoppers often want the items fast,” said Risch. “38% are using delivery options of 3 hours or less, and men are far more willing to pay a higher fee for speed.”

For shoppers with limited flexibility who live in urban areas, have children, or work outside the home, the delivery timeframe window is critical. 

A key takeaway for brands and retailers: Three in four Gen Z and Millennials are placing small orders for a single meal or recipe, reflecting familiarity and comfort with the use and cost of delivery services. 

Implications for Retailers and Brands

According to the Acosta Group study, 84% of online grocery shoppers report high satisfaction with the online grocery shopping experience. This is encouraging news as it’s estimated that online grocery sales will nearly double to $342B by the end of 2027, according to Insider Intelligence-Digital Grocery Buyers 2023.

“Today’s online grocery shoppers are younger and digitally savvy and are using online grocery shopping in new ways,” said John Carroll, President, Acosta Group Digital Commerce and Advanced Analytics.

“Their expectations are set for convenience and accuracy, as well as an integrated experience across the digital and physical shelf,” Carroll continued.

Future online grocery sales growth will come primarily from existing buyers vs. new buyers. So, building trust through exceptional service, inspirational digital shelf content, and personalized offers will be key.