Is Online Grocery Shopping Going to Be Our Preferred New Normal?

by Matt Weik

Are you in the camp that you go to the grocery store each week to pick up all of your groceries or are you in the new camp that now does online grocery shopping?

As we have evolved as humans, it’s apparent that we are getting more and more relaxed and complacent. Ok, enough sugarcoating… we’re lazy. We don’t complete tasks if we don’t need to. We don’t go out of our way to help people. And if you can make purchases without the need to ever leave your couch or put on clothing, why would you ever physically get up and go to a store ever again where you’ll fight traffic, wait in long lines, and use up your own resources (time and gasoline)? That’s exactly what the online grocery shopping market is accomplishing.

With online grocery shopping, you never need to handpick your produce, you’ll never need to wait at the deli or meat counter for someone to help you and choose the items you wish to purchase. And forget about the long lines at the cashier where the person in front of you wants to pay a $47.24 bill with all coins and has the cashier standing there counting everything out. FORGET ABOUT IT!

And if you are in the middle of prep, there’s no saying what the lack of carbohydrates and caloric deficit is going to make you say or do when you venture out and come in contact with people who make you want to pull your hair out due to their sheer stupidity. With so many options available for online grocery shopping, this could be our preferred new normal.

Is Online Grocery Shopping Here to Stay?

Food Navigator USA published a story showing the uptick in online grocery shopping over the last few months. Full disclosure, we have been under a pandemic during those months, but I think the shift is going to change the landscape and people’s buying behaviors and shopping preferences moving forward.

According to research from the analytics firm, Escalent, they found that in 2019 only 6% of the US was using online grocery shopping. That number has since jumped in March/April 2020 to 24%. The story also mentioned that “Tech-savvy Gen Z leads the way in reported online grocery shopping with 32% of the generation buying groceries online in the past month. A quarter of millennials and 23% of Gen Xers reported the same. Over one in five (21%) Baby Boomers have also bought online groceries.”

A surprising piece of this story was that Amazon is buried on a chart that was produced after surveying those who do online grocery shopping. In fact, Amazon came in third on the list. Of all the online grocery shopping platforms available, Walmart was the leader. Coming in more than 10% lower than Walmart are local grocery stores that allow online grocery shopping. Third was Amazon as mentioned. And fourth was Instacart.

Does this mean that due to the uptick in online grocery shopping, your local grocer is going to close up or go out of business? No, not at all. Most people are still shopping in-store versus online – even though the gap is getting smaller between the two. I feel that in the next five years the gap will be extremely small, if not seeing the trend shift to more of the population using online grocery shopping and bypassing the stores altogether.

Let’s face it, when you look at how technology is changing our behaviors, we no longer go to the library for information, we use Google on our couch. We no longer need to get up to change the television channel, we have remotes and apps. Forget about opening your blinds in the morning, you can have them programmed to open at a specified time. If you’re hungry and want food from your favorite spot down the road you can use an app and order from GrubHub and have it delivered to your door. The list goes on and on. So, anyone who things online grocery shopping is going anywhere is absolutely off their rocker.

What Makes Online Grocery Shopping So Appealing?

First and foremost, as I mentioned above, it’s convenient. You go online or use an app, choose the items you want, submit your order, and someone will go pick all of the items for you, and deliver them directly to your home. Or if you wish, you could do a store pick-up where you pull into a parking spot at your local grocery store, contact them and let them know you have arrived, and they’ll bring out your order and put it in your trunk for you.

Some of the other things that make online grocery shopping so appealing, according to the study, is that it’s protecting people from the Coronavirus. 71% used that as their motivating factor for online grocery shopping. That said, the virus won’t last forever and that’s where people will have to weigh out their decision of how they wish to do their grocery shopping moving forward.

Next on the list, I’m going to combine two of the advantages which would be that online grocery shopping takes less time and that the app is easy to use. I absolutely agree. Think about how much time you spend driving to and from the grocery store. Putting all of the groceries in your car. Waiting in line at the checkout. And of course, the actual time it takes to shop for all of your items. With the use of an app, you choose what you want and after you submit your order, you can sit back and wait for the delivery. There’s no other wasted time.

Last on the list of why people mentioned they prefer online grocery shopping is the availability of more products. Think along the lines of a place like Walmart (or even Amazon) where you can choose products that are found all over the US. We aren’t talking about the inventory found in your local grocer where if they don’t have it, tough luck. Through online grocery shopping you have access to a much wider array of products that you can choose from and even some items that may not be available locally in your grocers.

In my opinion, it only makes sense for grocers to double down on utilizing an online storefront or app. This is going to be the future of grocery shopping. Sure, you don’t get to physically stand in front of the fruit and vegetables or even the cuts of meat and choose yourself, but that’s not to say technology won’t further advance where your “personal shopper” can’t simply open the app, connect through video and allow you the ability to choose what you want. The skies the limit and there’s no turning back at this point. People demand convenience and this is just about as simple as it gets.

Source: Food Navigator USA