Study reveals online shopping patterns and opportunities for growth
- According to a study from SmartCommerce, more people are ordering online and saving items in their shopping carts to purchase later. While nearly a quarter of respondents bought clothes online and just over a fifth bought electronics online, just 13% bought non-food grocery items like beauty and personal care products. Less than 9% bought food online.
- The research shows that most consumers (90%) across retail categories say they use online shopping carts to store goods they intend to buy later. Nearly a third (31%) of online shoppers do this all the time and maintain multiple shopping carts holding products they intend to buy later.
- SmartCommerce states that “the whole concept of an ‘abandoned cart’ needs to be reconsidered within this pattern of behavior, where carts seem to be serving as de facto shopping lists.”
SmartCommerce's findings show that a large share of shoppers add items to online carts only to leave them there for days, weeks or more, suggesting an industry ripe for automated baskets or shopping lists. Retailers also should think in terms of automatic replenishment for routine grocery purchases, like subscription services or something akin to Amazon Dash buttons. Amazon is already there, and it seems Walmart also is moving in this direction, recently applying for a patent to automatically reorder groceries for consumers. Whatever form this takes, it definitely would behoove retailers to devise more ways to turn online grocery browsers into buyers.
Food shopping is clearly an online laggard as brick-and-mortar stores remain the preferred shopping channel. Since grocery shopping involves a major convenience and immediate consumption component, going to the supermarket probably isn’t that big of a deal for most shoppers. In fact, Walmart has stated that 90% of Americans live within 15 minutes of one of its stores.
But other product categories, like apparel and electronics, have already hit the online tipping point. Online shopping for food and groceries undoubtedly will gain traction in the coming years, as well, especially if Amazon has any say in the matter. According to statistics from the Food Marketing Institute and Nielsen, online grocery spending is expected to reach $100 billion by 2025 while the percentage of shoppers doing their grocery shopping online is estimated to more than double. By 2025, 72% of all shoppers are projected to conduct 25% of their grocery shopping online.
Consequently, food retailers are racing to figure out online shopping and fulfillment models to try and capture more online grocery dollars. In addition to its click-and-collect service, which allows customers to order online and pickup at the store, Walmart continues to experiment, including with a 24-hour automated grocery pickup kiosk. Rolling out ClickList is a strategic priority for Kroger. The service has scaled quickly and gotten ahead of competitors, with hundreds of the company’s stores now offering it. Bashas' and Publix recently announced partnerships with Instacart for same-day grocery delivery.
In addition to actually buying groceries online, consumers increasingly turn to digital devices to research products, compare prices and more. According to a Deloitte study, digital now influences 56 cents of every dollar spent in physical stores. Consequently, retailers must work with urgency to create a seamless omnichannel shopping experience by improving their digital platforms.
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