Ecommerce Eats: Consumers Turn To Online Grocery Shopping

There is much chatter about online buying, for everything from paper towels to luxury goods. But there is one product area that also deserves our notice, perhaps the most essential -- groceries. 

Of the consumers who began ordering groceries online during the COVID-19 pandemic, 75.8% will continue to do so after the crisis, according to The AI opportunity For Grocery Ecommerce, a study by Clinch, a personalization platform.

Overall, 75.5% of consumers buy groceries online, and 80% are ordering more than they did pre-pandemic.

There’s no great mystery as to why this is happening. 

The pandemic caused a decline in in-store shopping, and accelerated online usage by existing shoppers, while bringing in new audiences — i.e., “older demographics who had a toe dipped in digital, but were accustomed to offline, non-digital experiences,” the study notes. 

The meaning is clear for grocery purveyors: They need AI-driven email systems that can shoot out personalized promotions at scale, and triggered programs for confirmations, alerts and delivery updates.  



Major outfits like FreshDirect have such capabilities, but smaller grocery firms may not. And they need them because they have been hard-hit by the pandemic.  

Grocery retailers also need finely tailored messaging. 

The study found that nearly 65% want incentives based on past purchases. In addition, 38.35% seek new and different products. 

Moreover, 31% desire a product coupon and discount and 20% want same-day delivery and/or curbside pickup.

When it comes to content, 30.64% want to see messages that focus on safety and cleanliness, and 20.86% favor ads that make food look delicious. 

“Consumers need an online experience that fits their unique need — this could be a compelling price discount, or an ad that shows them their favorite chocolate-chip cookie, right as that 4 p.m. snacking hour rolls around,” states Oz Etzioni, CEO of Clinch.

Mobile is the main ordering channel, utilized by 60% of grocery shoppers. Only 33% use desktop/laptop, and 7% voice assistants 

Consumers have a more omnichannel preferences when it comes to advertising:

  • TV commercials — 37.9%
  • Ads on Facebook — 28.2% 
  • Streaming TV commercials — 26.69%
  • Ads on Instagram — 24.87% 
  • Ads on YouTube — 23.31%
  • Direct mail — 19.17%
  • Non ecommerce websites — 18.05%

And email?

“With an increasingly diverse and fragmented userbase, it is critical for grocery retailers to connect with their customers across a variety of platforms and channels,”  Etizioni says. 

 Etzioni adds, “We're seeing the most profound campaign performance coming from advertisers who take an omnichannel approach and leverage the right data and analysis to execute the right ad sequencing. Email can be a powerful extension of sequential messaging and establishing relevancy."

Etzioni concludes, “Brands need a solid 1st party data (CRM) that is continuously enriched with relevant insights in order to best nurture communication with their consumers and maintain brand loyalty.”

Clinch surveyed a panel of 532 conline grocery shoppers in the U.S. in November.

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