The pool of consumers who purchase groceries digitally is expected to jump from 19% in 2016 to 31% in 2017, according to a recent survey of more than 500 US internet users by Unata and Brick Meets Click. Since lots of people will purchase groceries online for the first time this year, that initial experience is crucial. eMarketer asked industry experts to share the top six expectations customers have when grocery shopping online.
1. They Deserve the Same Selection They Find at the Grocery Store
Consumers can shop for groceries when and where they want—at the store, on their laptop or on the go from their smartphone—and with that freedom, they expect the same product assortment to be available for the same prices at all touchpoints.
“The customer might choose to shop in the store or online, but don't prohibit them from getting some items based on that choice,” said Ravi Jariwala, senior director of public relations and corporate communications for Walmart eCommerce. “This is their shopping trip.”
Walmart works to satisfy customers in each market where it offers grocery pickup and delivery by offering the widest selection possible, according to Jariwala. For example, when the retailer launched the service in Denver a few years ago, shoppers could buy locally sourced produce both in store and online.
2. They Want to Edit Their Virtual Grocery Carts Anytime, Anywhere
Customers of online grocery delivery service Peapod update their orders an average of six times before they stopped based on their delivery time. Allowing them this flexibility results in happier customers—they don’t receive unwanted items, and they can add items they remember at the last minute.
“Grocery ecommerce has a unique dynamic, because it’s not based on a single transaction,” said Carrie Bienkowski, Peapod’s CMO. “Part of the satisfaction we see in our customer base comes from the fact that they can constantly go back and update their order,” she added. “They love that it’s not a one-shot deal.”
3. They Often Prefer to Grocery Shop on Desktop
It might come as a surprise that consumers are just as keen to shop for groceries on their desktop as their smartphone. “Our hypothesis is that mobile will spur disproportionate growth going forward, but consumers are clearly telling us that they want to shop both on desktop and mobile,” said Nilam Ganenthiran, senior vice president of business development at grocery delivery service Instacart.
Jackson Jeyanayagam, CMO of online warehouse club Boxed, pointed out that certain ecommerce categories, such as bulk items and groceries, have larger basket sizes, and shoppers tend to fill up their carts and make purchase decisions while they’re sitting at their computer. “They’re going up and down the virtual aisles and seeing what’s there,” he said.