Grocery shopping online has become a common practice. A recent Ipsos poll put the number of consumers that have purchased some sort of meal or household product online at 61%, with the largest share (36%) purchasing fruit & vegetables.
While it is great that more consumers are engaged with online grocery shopping, it is also important to understand the reasons why they prefer to buy online.
Here, we’ll explore the various factors that influence consumers’ choice in online grocery shopping, and the steps that retail stores can take to attract grocery customers.
As we’ve established, grocery buying is now primarily a digital process. However, that doesn’t mean that personal preference doesn’t play a role. When it comes to choosing which groceries to purchase, we all have preferences, and those preferences can vary from person to person.
If you’ve ever shopped at an online grocer, you’ll know that the range of products available can vary considerably, from the well-known household brands to small local businesses that operate on a completely different level. For some, the range of products available and the large selection of brands may overwhelm, and put off, the decision-making process.
On the other hand, for others the wider range of products and the unique local businesses may be exactly what draws them to the platform in the first place.
Depending on where you live, the time of day may also dictate what products you need. For some, it may be convenient to do their weekly grocery shopping during the weekday because many shops close at lunchtime, so they have to stop by during working hours. This time window might not be acceptable to others, particularly if they have young children at home who need care, or if they work shifts that don’t allow them to get out of the house at lunchtime.
Similarly, if you’re operating an online store in a major urban area, the range of products available and the number of customers that you’ll have to deal with might be more than you can handle. In order to reduce the complexity of the decision-making process, it may be desirable to have a smaller range of products or to offer specially selected products that are themed around a certain niche, such as organic produce for vegans or gluten-free products for those with a diet-related disorder.
In addition to the above, the location of your store may also influence your decisions. For example, if you have a store in a remote part of the country, the prices of the various products might become more apparent. Furthermore, if the location is particularly snowy, you may want to consider investing in a snow-clearing truck, as this will make unpacking and shelving groceries a lot easier for your staff. Alternatively, if you have a very high volume of footfall during a certain time of year, it may be difficult to keep the place tidy and organized due to the large amount of merchandise that is constantly being shifted around. In this instance, you may want to consider investing in a goods-transport vehicle (truck), as this will make moving and storing large quantities of inventory much simpler.
When choosing groceries to purchase, we all have a general idea of what is available and in season. However, depending on where you are and what time of year it is, the availability of certain products may vary considerably. For example, in the wintertime, the range of green vegetables is limited, while some staples, such as olive oil and wine, are hard to come by. In the summertime, the availability of many products increases, with consumers having access to a wider range of berries, vegetables, and fruit.
If you’re located in a place with a long, cold winter, the last thing you might want to do is go through a shopping list that is crammed full of things that are out of season. Having a wide range of products available all year round is essential if you want to succeed as an online grocer.
If you’ve shopped at a particular store in the past, you’ll likely be familiar with a range of brands and the variety of products that they offer. If a consumer has established a preference for a particular brand, it may be difficult to persuade them to try something new. This brand loyalty is particularly prevalent among younger generations, with 86% of Gen Z buying brand-name goods, versus 70% of millennials and 68% of members of elder generations buying generic brands.
In the above example, the customer is presented with a choice between two products from the same brand. If a consumer is brand-loyal and has established a preference for one of the products, it may be difficult to persuade them to buy the other. This is made more complex by the fact that many people hold positive and negative perceptions towards the same brand. This brand loyalty extends to food retailers, with 59% of consumers saying that they would be more likely to shop at a store that they know and trust, versus 43% who would shop at a brand-new establishment. This represents a 13% increase in sales since 2014.
If you’re a small business owner who is looking to grow your customer base, establishing and growing brand loyalty amongst your customers is a key marketing strategy. By understanding your customers’ needs and wants, you can develop an idea of what products they’ll most appreciate. From there, you can craft an ideal marketing strategy that will persuade them to try your products and become loyal customers. Establishing and maintaining brand loyalty amongst your customers is an important part of growing your business.
Another important factor to consider when selecting your groceries is the type of product variety available. The more product variety, the more appealing the choice can be to a consumer. If there isn’t a great variety of products available, it may be difficult for a consumer to find what they want, resulting in frustration and possibly even abandonment of the whole process. Having a wide variety of products available ensures that a consumer can find what they want and won’t be forced to buy something that they don’t want.
Depending on where you are, the price of the various products may also vary. If a product is more affordable in one place than another, it may be due to the competition between shops, which has driven down the price in order to attract customers. An understanding of your competition is vital in order to determine the price that you should be charging for your products. You don’t want to undercut your competitors, and charge too much, as this may put you at a disadvantage.
With growing concerns over climate change, sustainability is a major consideration when choosing groceries for everyday use. Many consumers are seeking goods that are more environmentally friendly and try to limit their impact on the planet as much as possible. In the above example, the shopper is faced with the choice of two environmentally-friendly products. However, this may not always be the case, with some products being more sustainable than others. This often depends on the process that the product goes through, as well as the materials used during the manufacturing stage.
If a product is biodegradable, more resources are saved as the product breaks down and becomes food for some other living organism. In an effort to reduce their environmental impact, shoppers may choose to forego single-use plasticware, and instead buy products with biodegradable packaging. If you’re looking for eco-friendly and sustainable groceries, try to purchase organic produce and goods that are locally-sourced. This will help reduce your environmental footprint, while also supporting smaller, independent businesses that may struggle to compete against the larger supermarkets.
If you’re looking to cut back on your environmental footprint and minimize the damage that you cause, you may want to consider looking for eco-friendly products and brands. This is often the case among shoppers who want to buy organic produce, who feel that the industry is too focused on its bottom line, and not enough on the wellbeing of the planet. For example, if you look for eco-friendly, dairy-free cooking supplies, you’ll find that most companies manufacture in places like Europe, avoiding the use of animals tested on a regular basis.
When choosing groceries to purchase, there are various factors that you need to take into consideration. Some people may prefer to spend a longer time researching the best prices and varieties before making a decision, while others may want to look for the best deals and be decisive. Ultimately, it’s all about what works best for you.