2021 Trend Predictions Part 5: Online Grocery Shopping

The Lempert Report
October 19, 2020

In an era of more videoconferencing, people yearn for human contact. And that will be the supermarket of tomorrow.

A survey conducted by Mercatus on shopper behavior of almost 60,000 respondents throughout the US, and just published, reported, based on the shopper  responses, that Mercatus predicts that online grocery will count for 21.5% of grocery sales by 2025 – that’s $250 billion in sales.

The Mercatus Survey also found that :

  • 62% are shopping online due to Covid 19
  • 43% shopped online in last 6 months – but only 26% at their preferred grocer – a very telling stat that should be alarming and be a wake up call to grocers.

And the great news - that 78% still prefer to visit a brick and mortar store to shop in store or curbside pick up.

Here’s what I’ve learned since the beginning of Covid-19 and here’s my vision of the future of e-commerce and grocery – and it’s a hybrid of an online experience and an in-store experience.

Shoppers will go online to your grocery store website and first make a reservation, same as they do now at Open Table, or another reservation app or at a specific restaurant’s website for a particular day and time.

This will allow your store to plan and predict for social distancing and lower in-store traffic. Your shopper will then automatically be redirected to shop on line – for those unemotional jars, boxes and packages – those name brands, or store branded products, that they can’t live without. No doubt the website will be populated with previous purchases to speed up the process along with personalized inputs by shopper that will specify and produce their preferred product needs and desires – low fat, low carb, gluten-free, vegan, salt-free, low sugar, religious preferences and scores more that make the experience quick, efficient, targeted and of course personalized.

The physical store, now at approximately 40,000 square feet, will be cut in half. The back half, closed to shoppers – a dark store if you will, will be fully robotic and will pick those groceries ordered online and send them by conveyor to a pick up area at the front of the store at the time of your reservation. The online shopping experience will change dramatically with full disclosure and listing of ingredients, sourcing, nutritional information and even allowing shoppers to view food and beverage packaging in 3D. A Harris Poll study shows that 60% of online shoppers say they’re more likely to buy a product if it’s shown in 3D or Augmented Reality. It’s all about transparency and information. 

At your reservation time you will enter the store – no lines out front, but still wearing a mask, and you WILL be impressed. All those delicious fruits and vegetables, all that fresh bakery products, the cheese table, the meat counter, the deli and freshly prepared foods will all be there. The products that today, receive the most quality complaints from those who order online.

Shoppers will be able to consult with their retail dietitians, talk to the butcher, the baker, the fish monger and focus on an exciting fresh shopping experience. Pick their foods, and on the way out pick up those foods they ordered online.

Reducing the time in store – and focused on the “best” of the shopping experience –and increasing the value of the experience. The best of both worlds – and will finally allow retailers to have ecommerce be profitable.