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For online products that are indeed out of stock, 75% of respondents said they would purchase the items immediately in-store or during their next online or in-store purchase.

What does the omnichannel customer look like? Here’s a snapshot.

Hint: natural and organic plays a big role

Omnichannel consumers, or those who buy groceries both online and in-store, are on the rise and can equate to strong sales opportunities for supermarket operators.

But it’s essential that retailers respond to the unique preferences and expectations of this hybrid shopper.

According to the Omnichannel Special Edition report from 84.51°, a Cincinnati-based research and insights firm and a unit of The Kroger Co., the omnichannel customer:

  • Is more likely to be a Millennial
  • Has children
  • And is highly engaged with natural and organic offerings 

In a February survey of 400 consumers who shopped Kroger online and in-store over the previous 52 weeks, 84.51° found that 36% shop most online and in-store some; 33% shop mostly in-store and online some; and 19% shop online and in-store equally.

For the upcoming month, 47% of the omnichannel consumers said they were planning to shop instore, compared to 78% of the general population.

In addition, 29% of omnichannel consumers said they planned to use online pick-up services, compared to 9% of the general population, and 20% planned to use online shipping or delivery services, versus 12% of the general population.

Consumers, meanwhile, provided a myriad of reasons for deciding whether to shop online or visit a grocery.

Factors cited by those or choosing to buy online include being able to shop at home or anytime of the day, which was named by 62% of respondents; saves time (52%); ability to stay away from crowds (51%); less stressful to buy online than in-store (39%); and easier to make sure that they don’t forget anything (34%).

In-store preferences include being able to pick their own produce, meat, fish, and other foods, which was indicated by 46% of respondents; not having to worry about getting the wrong item (38%); not wanting to pay extra fees for pickup or delivery (33%); not having to meet a minimum order requirement (32%); and the need to make a specific trip to buy a specific item (32%).

In addition, 43% of persons visiting stores said selection is a key driver, compared to just 14% for those ordering online for delivery and 10% for pickup.

Seventy-six percent of consumers who are ordering online for delivery and 73% who do so for pickup also list convenience as the major factor, compared to only 31% from in-store customers.

Thirty-five percent of omnichannel consumers, however, choose to shop in-store for sales and promotions, compared to 27% for online.

Top in-store selections for omnichannel shoppers include seafood, meat, produce, and gift and home goods, such as toys, cards and décor. Leading online selections are shelf-stable grocery, paper products, and cookies, crackers and snacks.

Digital coupons are a favorite with both online and in-store customers, with 73% of respondents listing coupons as a major shopping feature.

Other important elements named when shopping online include accuracy of order, availability of items on shopping lists, the ability to apply coupons or offers, quality of substitutions, and ease of navigating the website or app.

For online products that are indeed out of stock, 75% of respondents said they would purchase the items immediately in-store or during their next online or in-store purchase. In addition, 19% indicated that they would buy the items online elsewhere, and 6% would switch their entire cart to a different online retailer that has the items in-stock.

Factors that would drive consumers to shop online more include cheaper prices (stated by 61% of respondents); more coupons or savings available (50%); lower fees for online services (47%); fewer issues with substitutions (44%); and if they were confident someone else could select the items they want (33%).

When it comes to trying a new product, 42% of omnichannel consumers said they would initiate the purchase in-store, compared to 17% for online pickup and 15% for online delivery.

Thirty-nine percent of delivery and 30% of pickup customers also indicated that they shop online to help reduce impulse purchases, compared to 6% for in-store consumers.

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