So why are us Brits so keen on shopping for groceries online?
Here’s a bit of analysis on the stats, as well as how grocery retailers can capitalise on the growing demand for online services.
A matter of convenience
Since June 2015, sales of groceries through ecommerce have reached $48bn.
While the FMCG market as a whole is slowing down, this shows us that consumers are increasingly looking for speed and convenience, specifically when it comes to doing the weekly shop.
Despite the US accounting for just 1.4% of the grocery ecommerce market, many predict this figure will grow in future.
Below is some interesting data on why US customers currently choose not to shop for groceries online.
While the majority cite the tangible experience of seeing fresh produce in real life, let’s not forget that many people said the same about clothing and homeware – now two big areas for ecommerce.
A focus on freshness
So, if the UK prefers grocery shopping online, does that mean we care less about fresh produce?
Probably not, yet it’s interesting to note how many online supermarkets here are ramping up efforts to convince us that the produce bought online is super fresh.
Here are some of the best examples of this behaviour.
Firstly, Sainsbury’s, which likes to hammer home its ‘fresh from the farm’ message, using it alongside images of just-picked fruit and veg.
(For more on this brand, see: Ocado vs. Sainsbury’s: customer journey comparison.)
While it might seem like an insignificant detail, note the fact that it also uses the word ‘fresh’ in the title of many sub-categories – i.e. ‘fresh vegetables’ and ‘fresh herbs’ as opposed to just ‘vegetables’ and ‘herbs’.
While this obviously also helps to differentiate from frozen items, the constant reminder about freshness helps to convince consumers that they’re getting the very best.
Asda also uses this tactic, but this time with an extra localised incentive, reassuring us that the produce it sells is grown and sourced in the UK.
Finally, Tesco goes one step further with its ‘freshness guarantee’ – an initiative that takes centre stage on the ‘Fresh Food’ section of the website.
But did they take it too far?
Tesco has been under fire since it was revealed that many of the farms featured on its products do not actually exist.
(For more on this brand, see: How do Waitrose and Tesco use on-site content marketing?)
Interestingly, the retailer has seen continued sales growth since introducing the range.
With a clear interest from consumers in fresh and locally sourced food, this shows how artisanal marketing can hugely influence behaviour.
Opportunity for impulse buying
Research shows that after one year of shopping online, consumers in the UK spend 2.4% less than they did at the start.
This suggests that when consumers set up an online shopping basket, they are more likely to stick to it.
Consequently, retailers need to work harder to encourage impulse buying.
While most websites include a ‘You might have missed’ section before the checkout, there is still plenty of opportunity for added incentives to be included throughout the browsing experience.
One example of a supermarket that tries to do this is Ocado.
There is a heavy focus on offers and product tie-ins across the board.
While it is a bit in-your-face, an incentive like ‘Buy broccoli, add Kale for £1.50’ is a great example of how to cross-sell.
Likewise, the ‘You might like’ box on each product page hints at personalisation and targeted offers.
Sainsbury’s does a similar thing, though it is a little more subtle in its approach.
Calls-to-action like ‘great with’ and ‘have you tried…’ encourage consumers to spontaneously add items to their basket.
A good experience leads to loyalty
Finally, with research showing that 55% use the same shopping list from one purchase to the next, it seems as though consumers are also likely to choose one supermarket and stick to it.
However, with the introduction of Amazon Fresh and its promise of ultimate convenience, this notion could change in the near future.
If the biggest retailers fall behind on delivery – it could be the ultimate game-changer for the UK’s online grocery market.
With the news that Sainsbury’s is set to launch a new one-hour delivery service for London consumers, the competition is already heating up.