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A Walmart associate loads an order into a customer's vehicle during a grocery pickup.

Amazon, Walmart beat traditional supermarkets in digital service: report

Whole Foods acquisition may give Amazon edge in produce

Traditional supermarkets and food stores are losing the digital customer service battle to Amazon and Wal-Mart Stores, a recent report found.

The 2017 U.S. Online Grocery Shopper Study found that Amazon scored a 4.63 out of 5 in customer service, while Walmart clocked in at 4.41. Traditional grocers trailed these ratings with a 4.32 score.

The survey also determined that half of online shoppers plan to increase their digital spend on groceries in the coming year.

Amazon and Walmart ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in SN’s 2017 Digital Top 10, with $6.2 billion and $2 billion in sales, respectively. Both companies far exceeded online sales from the No. 3 spot, Ahold Delhaize, which saw digital sales of $883 million.

While both digital magnates outpaced the digital presence of traditional grocers, Amazon outshined Walmart in the study in categories such as online checkout, website and app usability, and navigation and efficiency in pickup or delivery.

Despite trailing Amazon in these categories, Walmart remained ahead of traditional supermarket e-commerce platforms in terms of checkout, the ability to identify and utilize sale or special prices, and in pickup and delivery efficiency.

"Clearly Amazon has effectively leveraged its deep roots in online retailing to inform their efforts in online grocery, leading to the strongest ‘highly satisfied’ marks found in our research,” Brian Numainville, principal at the Retail Feedback Group, which commissioned the study, said in a prepared statement.

“Walmart, although registering lower than Amazon on overall satisfaction and on several of the elements measured, also scored meaningfully higher than supermarkets/food stores in several areas core to their brand, including value, as well as identifying and receiving discounts. It appears supermarkets and food stores have work to do to improve their scores in online grocery shopping relative to these retailers."

Though they may be behind the curve in the e-commerce arena, traditional retailers still hold the upper hand with fresh perimeter items in many shoppers’ eyes.

About eight out of 10 online shoppers pointed to freshness and quality as the top factors they consider very important when purchasing produce online. Among those who do not purchase produce online, 66% said that they wanted to select these items themselves in person and 55% expressed doubt over the freshness of produce that arrives via digital shopping.

According to Numainville, Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods Market may allow it to sidestep this digital roadblock. The merger should also prove symbiotic, and boost Whole Food’s overall performance as well.

“Given Amazon’s strength in shopper satisfaction across the online food and grocery shopping experience, Whole Foods should benefit from the integration of technology and best-in-class processes,” Numainville said. “Conversely, Amazon may further strengthen in the freshness area given the depth of knowledge they will glean from Whole Foods.” 

The survey consisted of 760 respondents with 65% identifying as female and 35% identifying as male. All subjects reported that they had shopped online for food or other groceries within 30 days prior to being surveyed. 

Contact: [email protected]

Twitter: @DanAMX

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