The Digital Shopper's Journey

Shoppers who go online to purchase “everyday” items like groceries and household consumables are still in the minority, declares the report.  A Field Agent screener of 9,088 U.S. adults conducted in March 2018 found only 18% of shoppers presently purchase fresh groceries online, and 26% go online for packaged groceries. 20%, indicated they shop online for at least three of the following four categories: packaged groceries, fresh groceries, household cleaning supplies, and/or personal care supplies.

Soon, buying peanut butter and paper towels online could be the rule rather than the exception, says the report. Which partly explains the sense of urgency among retailers, brands, and agencies to understand digital shoppers, those individuals who buy more than the occasional book or gift online, those individuals whose daily consumption needs are met in large part by ecommerce, says the report.

This study, The Digital Shopper, Field Agent’s special report exploring several pressing questions about today’s most ‘connected’ customers, offering precious insight into the emerging majority: those shoppers who purchase “everyday” products online, says the report.Throughout this report “household consumables” (HC) is defined as “non-grocery, non-durable goods like cleaning supplies, detergent, toilet paper/paper towels, pet supplies, baby supplies, personal care items, etc.” 

Field Agent hopes that this report will help serve today’s digital minority even as it helps prepare for tomorrow’s digital majority. 

The Digital Shopper 

Introducing the Digital Shopper... 

100% buy groceries and household consumables online
   90% Also buy Clothes online
      86% Entertainment
      83% Home Goods
      81% Personal Electronics
      79% Footwear
   80% buy groceries/HC online from
   42% from
   71% from
   72% use in-store pickup to retrieve groceries/HC purchased online
   68% packaged goods
   47% curbside pickup
   16% local delivery
   90% use smartphones to purchase groceries/HC
      68% laptop computer
      42% tablet
      41% desktop
      15% smart speaker

The Digital Shopper's Journey

For all the attention paid to “the shopper’s journey,” precious little is actually known about the digital shopper’s journey. Field Agent maps out this journey from start to finish, highlighting some of the key decisions and actions of individuals shopping online for groceries/household consumables. 

This map is based on post-shop surveys with 451 digital shoppers. Each participant completed this survey immediately after buying at least $30 of groceries/household consumables from an online retailer for local pickup or in-town delivery. 

Field Agent scrutinized each agent submission to ensure participants had just completed an “online grocery-shopping trip.” To qualify, participants were required to submit screenshots/photos showing what they purchased, when they purchased it, and how much they spent. 

#1 Pre-shopping 

  • 55% created a shopping list before going online 
  • 12% prefilled their digital shopping carts with planned purchases 
  • 69% Made a handwritten shopping list 
  • 67% Just remembered what they needed 
  • 46% Repeated all or some purchases from the past

Preparation For Shopping


Before Shopping Online

During Shopping Online

Inventoried kitchen cabinets/refrigerator 



Took requests from household members 



Searched for digital/paper coupons 



Researched meal recipes 



Looked through retailer's weekly ad/circular 



Compared prices between online retailers 



 Researched nutritional info/ingredients 



Read product reviews 




#2 Shopping Online 

69% shopped for & purchased everything in just one "sitting" or session
   10% three or more sittings  
    7% "completed" some shopping through auto-refill
Top categories purchased today...
   65% fresh produce
   65% chilled dairy products
   38% salty snacks
   34% fresh meat
   3% canned foods
   39% did not buy fresh produce because they prefer to inspect it in-person (3)
   36% plan a store trip to purchase fresh produce
57% bought mostly what was on their shopping list today  
   29% bought only what was on their list
   65% made at least one unplanned purchase today
Top unplanned purchases made today...
   31% fresh produce
   23% salty snacks
   18% frozen meals
   14% candy/chocolate
   59% were completely or very likely to make an in-store trip to complete shopping
   22%not very/not at all likely 
Top reasons for making in-store visit... 
   37% need to buy items from a different retailer
   33% don't like buying certain items online
   24% forgot something while shopping online
   33% want to take advantage of sales/coupons
   22% some items online were unavailable
   70% will buy fresh produce on their additional store visit
   84% were completely or very satisfied with their designated 

More From This Study 

Where did digital shoppers purchase their groceries/household consumables?* 

  • Walmart Pickup -                               59%
  • Kroger-Checklist/Kroger-Instacart15% 
  • AmazonFresh Delivery/Pickup        7% 
  • Target-Shipped       ;                           3% 
  • Meijers-Shipped&nb sp;                               2% 
  • Fred Meyer-Instacart                         2%
  • Smith's Grocery-Instacart                2% 
  • Publix-Shipped                                   2% 
  • Sam's Club Pickup/Instacart          1% 
  • Costco-Instacart/Costco-Google Express         1% 
  • Safeway-Instacart                             1%&nb sp;
  • Whole Foods-Instacart                    1%
  • H-E-B Instacart/H-E-B Shipt            1% 
  • Aldi-Instacart                                      1%
  • Frys-Clicklist        ;                               1% 
  • ShopRite Pickup/Delivery                1% 
  • HyVee Pickup/Delivery                     1%
  • Sprouts-Instacart      ;                        1% 

Field Agent limited the number of times certain online retailers could be represented in the study, thus ensuring a variety of online retailers. Consequently, the information above is only meant to describe the sample and not to demonstrate which online retailers are comparatively more popular among digital shoppers. 

What devices did digital shoppers use? (Field Agent asked participants to identify all devices they used at any point in the planning-shopping-purchasing process)

    • Smartphone apps (not smartphone browser) – 63% 
    • Laptop computer – 22% 
    • Smartphone web browser (not apps) – 15% 
    • Desktop computer – 14% 
    • Tablet computer – 5% 
    • Other–1%

For additional informationabout this study, please visit here.

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