Will Consumers Buy Groceries Online?

A few weeks ago I wrote an article for Engage:Moms about a recent study we fielded related to online grocery shopping. The study found that 80% of consumers surveyed will buy 100% of their groceries in-store and not online. In fact, just 5% say that they do 50% or more of their grocery shopping online.

Readers were surprised by these findings. After all, Amazon, Jet, Walmart, Target and many others are making it easier than ever for shoppers to buy all products online, including groceries. For example, has gamified online grocery shopping by offering a tool that allows shoppers to see the prices of their groceries fall as they put more in their shipping box. 

With increased options for easy online purchase, it’s not surprising that 63% of consumers surveyed were Amazon Prime members. This is up from 52% just one year ago, according to the study. 



It also seems that shoppers are taking advantage of free shipping options touted by online retailers. Thirty-four percent of consumers surveyed have used’s two-day free shipping option and 27% have acquired Target’s credit card with free shipping benefit for purchases. 

With all of this push for online grocery purchase by major retailers, consumer adoption appears to be slow. Seventy-two percent of consumers we surveyed said that they go to the supermarket one or more times per week, but just 21% shop from online retailers like Amazon, Jet, or one or more times per week.

Bottom line, shoppers still overwhelmingly favor brick and mortar stores for grocery category purchases. But for which products?

80% Buy 100% of Groceries In-Store?

Back to that overall finding of 80% of those surveyed indicating that they buy 100% of their groceries in-store. With all of the incentives offered by online retailers like free shipping, speedy delivery, lower prices etc. why aren’t consumers buying more groceries on-line?

Well, as with everything, the devil is in the details. We decided to break down grocery shopping categories a bit further. Below are the results:

Grocery Categories

Snacks like chips and cookies as well as boxed non-perishable items appear to be the most likely to be purchased online. Not surprisingly, fresh produce, refrigerated, frozen and dairy products are unlikely to be purchased online. Perhaps, if online retailers were to offer easy and reliable refrigerated/dry ice shipping options, these grocery categories too would likely shift to more online purchase. 

So, while the online buying behavior numbers are still relatively low for grocery items, cost, convenience and speed of delivery are important elements for shifting spend to online purchase. 

And with the emphasis that retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target & Jet have on free shipping and even same-day delivery, spend shift will likely continue to occur. And the online purchase trend with groceries will follow that of pretty much every other category. 

Have thoughts on this? Comment below or tweet me @shespeaking.

2 comments about "Will Consumers Buy Groceries Online?".
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  1. Virginia Suhr from Lobo & Petrocine, April 13, 2017 at 1:38 p.m.

    People want to look at the meat and produce before they buy it.  Also, with stores like Whole Foods, Fairway and Stew Leonards; shopping is an experience where you can smell, feel and look at the food and even get samples.  In those stores, it is almost like going to the farmer's market and enjoying yourself at all the interesting options.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, April 13, 2017 at 5:08 p.m.

    Who squeezes your tomatoes ? Who profits ? Can't use coupons. Can't compare side by side with all products and pricing. More traffic congestion in front of buildings, blocks, etc. with trucks, increases grocery costs, very unnecessarity inflationary, decreases basic human connectivity. Unless someone cannot physically get to a store, this is destructive to community, home and life integration. 

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