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Early adopters capturing more online grocery sales

Benchmarking study shows online sales growing at 25%

Online grocery has continued to grow as a percentage of the total U.S. grocery business — particularly for companies that have offered the service for four years or more, a study released Tuesday found.

Those companies that have offered online grocery sales for four or more years are realizing around 5.2% of their total sales online, vs. 3.4% of sales for all stores offering an online shopping option, according to the new Brick Meets Click Grocery Ecommerce Supermarket Scorecard Report. 

“The good news is that supermarket ecommerce growth was happening even before Amazon announced their purchase of Whole Foods,” David Bishop, partner at Brick Meets Click and author of the report, said in a statement. “And the rapid deployment of a number of different Walmart initiatives reveals that the company considers online grocery an important gateway to their ecommerce growth. The increased competition in grocery is not just putting pressure on supermarkets to get into ecommerce; it’s requiring that they be good at it, too.”

The report was based on online transactions that took place during a four-week period ending March 31 at nearly 200 stores offering online grocery. Tuesday’s report updates the group’s previous reports, and offers participating organizations visibility into how they compare.

“While some food retailers have moved cautiously into ecommerce, adoption is now accelerating, driven partly by the increased share of households who are regularly buying groceries online. This research found that 24% of shoppers bought groceries online in the last 30 days, up from 22% two years ago,” Bishop said. Other signs of accelerating adoption include the average number of online transactions per store is up almost 20% from last year, and total online sales are growing year-over-year at over 25%.

Customer confidence in online grocery is also growing, the survey suggested. The average size of supermarket online transactions – $148, according to the recent Brick Meets Click research – shows that customers are comfortable buying a broad range of grocery products online.

Other highlights from the research include:

  • The average value of customer orders increased over the previous year by more than 5%;
  • About 85% of online transactions included produce items;
  • Meat/seafood and deli were found in more than 66% of the transactions;
  • Bakery was found in almost 50% of the transactions;
  • For companies that offered both options, customers preferred to receive their offers by delivery (74%) over click-and-collect (26%) and
  • Retailers continue to struggle with “lost sales” — sales that lost because an item that was ordered was not in stock and no substitute was available — than when previously polled.
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