Despite the accelerated use of online platforms for grocery shopping, Advantage found that nine in 10 of households' principal shoppers (87%) buy their groceries mostly or only in person. Only one in 10 shop mostly online, with 2% online only.
Those who shop online are far more loyal, however, than typical in-store shoppers. While four in 10 online shoppers buy their groceries from one retailer, only 14% of brick-and-mortar shoppers stick to one location, the survey found — two-thirds of these shoppers visit two or three different stores in a typical month, and another 20% shop in four or more stores.
Whether in-store or online, mass retailers such as Walmart have the edge over traditional grocers when it comes to shoppers’ favorite channels. For those who do most of their shopping in-store, 53% of shoppers favor mass retailers while 40% favor traditional grocery stores. For those who shop mostly online, it’s 47% mass retailers and 32% traditional grocery stores.
While eight in 10 of the country’s principal grocery shoppers shop most often at their favorite store, nearly one-fifth say where they shop most is not their preferred store. Of these, 43% cite the location of the store as the reason; 24% say the store does not have all of the products they want or need; and 18% say prices are too expensive.
Asked to pick their top two general traits of brick-and-mortar stores, grocery shoppers rank “the best prices, deals, specials and discounts” and a convenient location at the top. Three in 10 of these in-person shoppers picked “excellent customer service” as an important trait.
In this era of COVID, six in 10 primary shoppers said cleanliness is one of their most desired physical store traits; “enforces local COVID protocols” was a top-ranking trait for 27% of shoppers. The pandemic may also be fueling the service deemed most desirable in an ideal store: pharmacy or health services.
When it comes to pricing, in-person shoppers, by far, want a grocery store to offer lower everyday prices with not as many in-store specials as may be offered by others versus one that has higher everyday prices with many in-store promotions and deals (68% vs. 13%). Nearly one in five shoppers, though, say they have no preference for either pricing strategy.
Diving deeper into promotions, in-person shoppers responsible for most of their household’s grocery buying would prefer a retailer that offers the same deals in stores and online, digital coupons that can be used at brick-and-mortar locations and in-store sampling of new and featured products.
Even as retailers are dealing with supply chain constraints and are reconsidering the number of “always in stock” and offering a wide variety of products are among their top two SKUs they carry, most in-person shoppers say their ideal store would carry all the products they need and want. One-third say having all of their favorite products assortment traits.
When asked to choose two store departments most important to them in an ideal grocery store, most shoppers picked quality produce and quality meat departments. “When selecting the most important services for their preferred store, after in-store pharmacy and health services, in-person shoppers most desire a store that will special order products for them, cake decorating and recycling of items other than bottles and cans,” according to the report.
When considering the importance of in-store and digital technology, nearly half of the in-person shoppers picked “a great loyalty program” as a top-two trait. Self-checkout was very important to four in 10 brick-and-mortar shoppers. As evidence of the continued blurring of in-store and digital experiences, 25% of brick-and-mortar shoppers chose “a great mobile app” as one of their two most important uses of retail technology and 20% chose “a great website.”