75% of online grocery orders to be fulfilled at grocery stores
Demand for grocery home delivery has plateaued according to 40,000 U.S. customers
Mercatus announced findings from its annual eGrocery survey of U.S. consumers, conducted in collaboration with Incisiv. The report, titled "eGrocery Transformed: 2021 market projections and insight into online grocery's elevated future", confirms that U.S. online grocery customers are predominantly oriented towards grocery pickup services with 75% of survey respondents preferring store pickup.
The number of online grocery customers who report using curbside pickup at least once in the last year increased to 61% on average in 2021, up 9% from the previous year’s survey. When asked the same question about home delivery, there was no increase in reported use for 2021. Forty-six percent of online grocery customers reported using delivery services at least once in the last 12 months – the same level as 2020.
When asked why they preferred grocery pickup over delivery, respondents identified avoiding higher delivery fees and surcharges as the main reason. While 57% of online customers say that expedited (same-day) delivery is important, only 15% of all shoppers are willing to pay a separate fee for it.
The wide-scale adoption of grocery pickup services is expected to further curtail online customers’ use of home delivery in the future. Pre-pandemic the number of respondents who said they preferred using delivery was 27%. That number climbed to 41% during the height of pandemic-related restrictions. Post-pandemic that number is expected to drop to 24% as retailers continue to improve their ability to offer a better online customer fulfillment experience.
“Pickup works particularly well for both grocers and their customers in the North American market,” said Sylvain Perrier, president & CEO at Mercatus. “Pickup services offer grocers more control over the cost to serve online customers than third-party delivery. Online customers love the precision, flexibility and overall convenience that store pickup provides. And when done well, pickup services make for a better overall shopping experience that builds lasting connections with customers, which will lead to repeat business for grocers.”
The survey also asked about U.S. grocery customers’ preferred mode of online shopping. Mobile is clearly the future of online grocery, as consumers are expected to increase their mobile channel usage in the next year by 14%. Grocery customers are increasingly using their preferred retailer’s mobile application for in-store assistance like product location, proximity promotions and self-checkout.
According to Incisiv, the increased adoption of online grocery evident in the survey results means the online grocery channel (pickup, delivery and ship-to-home) is expected to continue to grow to reach 11.1% of total U.S. grocery sales next year. In five years’ time, online grocery is projected to account for 20.5% of total U.S. grocery sales – or an estimated USD $263 billion out of total annual sales of USD $1,285 trillion. This represents a marginal reduction over 2020’s estimate as U.S. grocery customers adjust to returning to brick-and-mortar grocery stores.