U.S. Shoppers Lag Global Peers in Digital Grocery Shopping

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U.S. Shoppers Lag Global Peers in Digital Grocery Shopping

By Melissa Kress, Convenience Store News - 05/07/2015

NEW YORK — On a global level, consumers are embracing the digital age when it comes to grocery shopping. While U.S. consumers are by no means digital-shy, they do lag their counterparts in other countries.

According to The Nielsen Co.'s newly released Global E-Commerce and The New Retail Survey, one-quarter of global respondents said they are already ordering grocery products online for home delivery, and 55 percent are willing to use the option in the future, as CSNews Online previously reported.

U.S. consumers, on the other hand, are not as eager to give up their physical shopping trips. Nielsen research shows only 13 percent of respondents in the United States currently order online for home delivery. And even more telling, one-third said they are not willing to try.

When it comes to using digital options for grocery shopping today, U.S. consumers lean most toward self-service checkouts to reduce checkout time (42 percent utilize now, 28 percent are definitely willing to use), and online or mobile coupons (27 percent utilize now, 31 percent are definitely willing to use). To a lesser extent, shoppers in the U.S. are embracing online or mobile shopping lists (19 percent use now, 29 percent are definitely willing to use).

What are the digital options garnering the least interest in the U.S.? According to Nielsen, it's online automatic subscription and ordering online for curbside pickup outside a store. Specifically, 45 percent of U.S. respondents said they were not willing to use an online subscription, and 39 percent expressed a similar sentiment about online ordering for curbside pickup.

By comparison, 14 percent of global respondents said they now use an automatic online subscription service where orders are replenished at a specified frequency, with more than half (54 percent) willing to do so in the future.

The good news is most U.S. consumers fall in the middle range for using digital options to enhance their grocery shopping experience. For example, 38 percent are definitely willing to try using a handheld store scanner to purchase products as they shop to avoid checkout lines and another 27 percent are somewhat willing to try, Nielsen found.

What They'll Click For

When it comes to purchasing grocery products online, U.S. consumers are willing to click for certain items. Eight of the top 10 items that cracked double-digit percentages in Americans' willingness to buy online center around health and beauty.

Shampoo/conditioner, and vitamins/supplements tied for first at 19 percent, while body wash and deodorant came in at 16 percent and 15 percent, respectively. 

Other top items respondents said they intend to buy online fall into the household category: air fresheners, cleaners, laundry detergents, paper towels and toilet paper all came in at 13 percent. 

Brick & Mortar Buying Decisions

Even with the advances on the digital front, brick-and-mortar still rules the roost.

Compared to 12 months ago, 7 percent of U.S. respondents said they shop more often at convenience stores for food and grocery items, while 43 percent said they do so about the same amount. On the other hand, 19 percent said they shop at c-stores less often than they did 12 months ago, and 31 percent said they do not shop the channel at all for food and grocery items.

As for household and personal care items, 8 percent of U.S. consumers said they are shopping c-stores more often for such products, and 37 percent said they're doing so about the same amount. 

Looking at other channels, supermarkets/grocery stores and discounters/club stores take the lead in regards to shopping visits for both food and grocery items and household and personal care items. Eighty-nine percent of respondents said they're shopping supermarkets and grocery stores more often or the same for food and grocery items vs. 12 months ago, and 66 percent gave similar responses for discounters/club stores.

The Grocery Retail Experience

In its research, Nielsen also tapped into U.S. consumers' thinking in regards to the "experience" of shopping in a grocery retail store.

A large number of respondents told Nielsen they find going to the grocery store an enjoyable and engaging experience (58 percent either strongly or somewhat agree), and grocery shopping is a fun day out (a combined 47 percent).

However, consumers in the United States are not enthusiastic about sharing more personal information or even using a personal shopper. Notably, 39 percent of respondents somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with being more willing to reveal more personal information to retailers in return for more relevant and targeted offers. In addition, nearly half of respondents (47 percent) disagreed on some level with using a personal shopper for grocery shopping.

Nielsen's Global E-Commerce and The New Retail Survey was fielded between Aug. 13 and Sept. 5, 2014.