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Offering customers a choice between pickup and delivery instead of just one option continues to have a significant positive impact on sales, according to Brick Meets Click's benchmarking report.

How benchmarking can help grocers improve their online business

Brick Meets Click’s newest research focuses on and compares the performance of nearly 950 stores with online operations

David Bishop currently leads Brick Meets Click’s consumer research, retailer benchmarking and sales forecasting programs while working closely with grocers to improve the results of their omnichannel strategies. Brick Meets Click is a renowned analytics and strategic insight firm that leverages its industry expertise, clear thinking and practical solutions to help clients solve the challenge of finding new routes to success in the changing U.S. grocery market.


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We all know that more shoppers are using online grocery options than before COVID. What’s harder to sense — but even more significant — is that the dynamics of the online grocery market have also changed, especially when it comes to how conventional grocers can strengthen their online grocery services to improve performance. The challenge is that it’s not easy for conventional grocers to see the changes without evidence.

Now new benchmarking research from Brick Meets Click brings these changes into focus and reveals where there are potential opportunities to enhance how grocers conduct commerce online.

The e-commerce teams and executive leadership at today’s conventional grocers need to challenge their assumptions about the online grocery services they offer because some of those assumptions have become invalid and, therefore, could be obstructing the path toward improved profitability.

Relevant benchmarks matter

Benchmarking is valuable for two reasons: First, it allows you to compare your business with your peers. Second, it enables you to identify opportunities to drive stronger results. However, to deliver that value, the comparisons must be relevant.

That’s why this benchmarking research focused exclusively on conventional grocers with online operations and compared the performance of nearly 950 stores from 45 U.S. banners.

We know from Brick Meets Click’s monthly e-shopper research that today’s shoppers choose to place online grocery orders with mass merchandisers for very different reasons than when they choose to place online orders with conventional grocers. In this context, mass rivals are not conventional grocers’ most meaningful competitor. 

Also, if the shopper dynamics isn’t enough evidence, then it’s worth recognizing that mass competitors are far more developed in executing their respective online strategies and they operate at a scale that dwarfs most conventional grocers relative to the average number of weekly orders completed per store.

Online grocery retail has changed

What was true before COVID isn’t necessarily the case today.

In fact, two of the three store attributes that were strongly correlated with higher topline performance several years ago have changed.

  • In 2019, stores that had operated an online grocery service for a longer period of time reported higher weekly sales. This correlation no longer exists. COVID has changed the circumstances that drive adoption and usage.
  • The impact of a store’s service area population has also shifted. In 2019, stores in the largest markets generated the highest level of weekly sales; today, stores in mid-sized markets reported the strongest sales. In high-population areas, there is simply more competition for online grocery spending than there used to be. This makes it harder to grow without expanding in other ways.

The third key attribute — offering customers a choice between pickup and delivery instead of just one option — continues to have a significant impact on sales. The benchmarking documented that specific store locations offering both services drove 55% higher sales than pickup-only stores and 44% higher than delivery-only stores in 2021 (see figure 1 below).

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For those stores that currently offer just one service, adding another service is a clear opportunity to increase sales by better serving the addressable market. Surprisingly, this is an opportunity for far more stores than many would assume – only about half of the stores that participated in the study offered both pickup and delivery to their customers (see figure 2 below).

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Average order value trends

For stores that already offer customers both ways to receive orders, it’s worth interrogating other performance metrics. For instance, the average order value (AOV) for online grocery pickup and delivery orders are trending differently.

While the AOV for pickup orders has remained relatively steady from 2020 to 2021, the AOV for delivery orders has dropped 8%. More important is the gap between pickup and delivery AOVs at conventional grocers; now the AOV for pickup orders is 23% higher than the AOV for delivery orders. (see figure 3 below).

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Finding improvement opportunities

The metrics that identify opportunities to improve results will vary depending on a retailer’s specific strategy, stage of development and market. For some, this may lead to questions about how to manage elements related to online pricing and assortment.

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer or approach for improving results, latent opportunities exist across the ordering, assembling and distributing functions associated with the online shopping process.

The path toward improved outcomes and profitability for customers and grocers respectively requires that e-commerce teams (and their executive leadership) ground their recommendations and rationale with evidence. This evidence should emphasize empirical over anecdotal, as well as current versus historical sources, to provide relevant and meaningful inputs and to help make better decisions about what to do next.

Visit to learn more about the new Brick Meets Click eGrocery Performance Benchmarking 2021 Wave sponsored byf Mercatus, Hussmann and Cardlytics.

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