Why Some Consumers Waffle About Online Grocery Shopping

Many want to be able to weed out the bad apples in-person

Author: Rimma Kats

December 5, 2017

New data from RBC Capital Markets reveals what other studies have also found—some consumers are reluctant to try out online grocery shopping because they want to be able to touch and feel the products before they commit to them.

In fact, out of all the reasons given, that one was the largest contributing factor. More than four in 10 consumers who don’t currently shop for groceries online said the inability to see and touch the product is one of the main reasons they’re hesitant to try it out.

The findings are in-line with previous studies that also suggest consumers want to be able to touch and feel the food they buy.

A February 2017 survey from Market Track found that more than half of US grocery buyers said they don’t purchase online groceries because they want to inspect the products in-store.

And a June 2017 survey from Morning Consult found that this apprehension is most likely because consumers worry about the freshness of the food once it’s delivered to them. According to Morning Consult, consumers said they weren’t likely to have items like meat, dairy, fresh fruits or vegetables shipped to them because of this very reason.

Data about the prevalence of online grocery shopping varies from study to study. The RBC study found that 25% of respondents had purchased groceries online.  By comparison, an October survey by Brick Meets Click found that 38% of US households had purchased groceries online in the past 12 months.

But most studies also show online grocery shopping on the rise, and the RBC Capital Markets data supported that. In 2015, it found that just 15% of respondents had purchased groceries online. That figure has grown by 10 percentage points in two years.