Consumers stress less with digital shopping, head into stores for fresh, 84.51˚ finds

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Image Credit: Getty Images - 	Moyo Studio
Image Credit: Getty Images - Moyo Studio

Related tags 84.51 Online shopping Online grocery

Consumers are grocery shopping online to beat the stress of heading into stores, but remain skeptical of apps and websites to purchase fresh foods, including meat, bakery items, and produce, Alexandra Trott, director of insights at 84.51˚, told FoodNavigator-USA.

“People are stating that [omnichannel] has become their preferred method of shopping. That has jumped from 28% of omnichannel shoppers saying that last year to 57% of people saying that this year, so that means we're doing something right in terms of making that omnichannel, especially digital, experience a good one,” she explained 

Omnichannel shopping still has “headroom to grow” 

In a recent omnichannel shopper report​, Kroger’s market research firm 84.51˚ surveyed consumers on their perceptions of online and in-store shopping.

Most shoppers (80%) cite convenience as the top reason why they order online for in-store pickup or delivery, while 46% of omnichannel shoppers say they spend less time ordering their groceries online compared to shopping in-store. Additionally, 58% of consumers surveyed said they use online shopping because it's less stressful, and 53% said digital grocery options help them stay away from crowds, compared to 39% and 51% of consumers surveyed in 2023, respectively.  

When asked why they shop in-store, 56% of consumers said they prefer to pick their groceries, 51% didn't want to pay extra fees for delivery or pickup, and 50% didn't want to have to worry about getting the wrong item. 

However, consumers may overstate how much they rely on online grocery options, said Trott. She explained 84.51˚ can verify consumer responses with their actual behavior and found 40% of omnichannel shoppers said they do most of their shopping online and 20% equally between online and in-store, in fact, 83% of omnichannel consumers did their shopping in-store. 

“There's still quite a bit of headroom to grow. People are saying, ‘I like [omnichannel shopping],’ ... but there's still room to blend those experiences,” Trott said. “We're just going to continue to see the lines blurring here for people. No one could look at a crystal ball and say the future will be 50/50 for people, but we do see [omnichannel] increasing over time.” 

'Fresh food is going to be the last horizon' for digital shopping

While consumers are comfortable with purchasing shelf-stable and frozen products online, they still head into the store for their dairy; deli, meat, or fish; produce; and fresh bakery in-store, with 52%, 74%, 75%, and 77%, respectively. Consumers are also less likely to allow substitutions for deli, meat, and fish products and would even make an additional trip to purchase those items, Trott explained.  

Retailers have invested in technology to make fresh food ordering more reassuring — with capabilities of sending a photo of the produce to consumers allowing them to reject — but they still have work to do, she acknowledged.

"One of the categories that customers are least willing to allow substitutions is on deli, meat, and fish, ... and those shoppers are likely to go in the store pick it up the next day themselves. People are willing to accept substitutions on paper products, cleaning products shelf-stable products,” Trott said. "Fresh food is going to be the last horizon in terms of how we complete the shopping basket online every single time."

While consumers shy away from using apps and websites for fresh food, they are drawn to their convenience and often bring them into the store to do price comparisons and to help them find products in the store, Trott explained. This also creates an opportunity for brands to leverage paid advertisement on online grocery apps and websites to influence a consumer's purchase decision, she added.  

“What we're realizing is that people do use their app to search while they're in the store. You can look at the aisle location, but also to search for coupons in real-time when you're there. There's a lot of opportunity for Kroger Precision Marketing to amplify your items and have that creative conversion in store.” 

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