Has Online Grocery Shopping Hit a Plateau?

New consumer research from ChaseDesign explores how online grocery shopping is evolving, how shoppers are engaging with e-commerce services and which retailers are doing it best.
Jacqueline Barba
Digital Editor
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New research from design agency ChaseDesign explores how online shopping for groceries is stabilizing and shoppers are shifting how they engage with retailers' online and fulfillment services.

ChaseDesign fielded an online survey of 1,000 consumers between the ages of 25-54 in June 2022 through its proprietary research platform mPulse. Respondents were screened to be the primary or secondary shopper in their households. 

According to ChaseDesign's analysis of the research, titled “Shopper Insights: Online Grocery Shopping Continues to Evolve,” the number of retail customers using buy online pickup in-store (BOPIS) “all the time” declined by one-third (45% down to 32%) in 2021 and is expected to shrink further in 2022.

Shoppers relying on home delivery of groceries purchased online are also expected to decline in the near-term future by nearly one-quarter. In-store shopping remains the dominant channel for buying consumer goods and is expected to grow in 2023. 

ChaseDesign believes these trends will require brands and retailers to rethink how and where they’ll invest for new growth. With the pandemic waning, online shopping has become more convenience including price premiums, according to a news release on the findings. The bulk of shopping trips remains in physical retail, where most grocery purchases are still made. 

The survey also determined that both home delivery, which grew significantly during the pandemic, now faces issues with value delivered, possibly accelerated by inflation. The number of people who claimed to “always” use delivery to home when buying groceries dropped by half (16% in 2022 down from 31% in 2021).

The reason cited most often by consumers for not wanting to shop online for groceries is that they prefer to shop in a physical store.

“This is driven by a lack of trust in having retailers pick and deliver exactly what the customer wants,” said Joe Lampertius, president of ChaseDesign, in the release. “Our survey shows 33% of shoppers have issues with the quality of products selected and a slightly lower percentage are worried about availability through the digital platform.”

graphical user interface, application

Other key findings from the survey:

  • Walmart provides the best BOPIS, curbside pickup, home delivery and usage of these services through its mobile app, while also having most the improved services over the past year.
  • There’s a $50 million “commerce gap” between in-store pickup versus curbside pick-up when it comes to the incremental purchases shoppers make. For shoppers who buy online and pickup in-store, 42% pick up additional items versus 32% who just use curbside pickup.
  • Online grocery shoppers avoid categories where careful selection matters most to them, like meat and seafood, produce, dairy products, deli, bakery and floral.

“Our survey pinpoints several opportunities for retailers trying to take advantage of the new shopping environment. For instance, 10% more curbside pickup shoppers complained about the time wasted in their cars waiting for their order in 2022 over last year,” said Lampertius in the release. “If the retailers use that captive time average five to 10 minutes with some shopper engagement and improved impulse merchandising strategies, brands and retailers will be rewarded with a more loyal customer and incremental purchases.”

“We have been working to improve the curbside pick-up experience across several leading clients,” he continued. “A great example is the conceptual work we’ve done for Planters nuts that uses digital integration of last-minute add-on items in the retailer’s app, while also providing impulse merchandising units at point of pick-up, to create new opportunities for impulse sales.”