- A recent study from Morgan Stanley shows that the percentage of shoppers who tried online grocery shopping and were dissatisfied grew from 17% last year to 27% this year, according to Quartz.
- The study also found that 84% of those surveyed preferred to see and choose their own items. This number was unchanged from 2016.
- Retailers and e-commerce providers like Instacart are trying to address consumers’ quality concerns. A 2014 training video produced by Instacart instructs workers to select produce that is blemish free and “perfectly ripe.”
While other retail sectors have undergone major disruption from Amazon and other online providers, grocery has been mostly insulated from the trend due to one very simple reason: People want to select their own food.
Retailers and e-commerce providers like Shipt and Instacart have labored to address this concern. Some have focused on branding and messaging, referring to workers as “personal shoppers” and even letting customers communicate with these individuals as they’re gathering products. Companies have also zeroed in on employee training and on improving logistics so fresh food gets to consumers faster.
Judging by the results from Morgan Stanley, however, companies aren’t making much progress on this front. It’s hard to say why this might be the case, exactly, though it does indicate that, while demand for online grocery shopping is growing, executing on that demand will be harder than many anticipated. Indeed, the estimation by the Food Marketing Institute and Nielsen that one-fifth of all grocery spending will happen online within the next several years is starting to look optimistic.
It’s important to keep in mind that this is still early days for online grocery. Many retailers have only recently added home delivery and click-and-collect to their stores services. As time goes on, companies will learn how to make order fulfillment more efficient and effective. Market leaders like Walmart, Amazon and Kroger, meanwhile, could very well pave the way with useful innovations, including better execution of last-mile delivery.
In the meantime, retailers need to work on incentivizing online shopping while also looking for ways to make improvements. Many grocers offer savings to shoppers who try online ordering. These companies also need to follow up with these shoppers to gauge their experience, and to make sure it’s living up to their expectations.