Internet grocery shopping is growing at a phenomenal rate across Europe and is set to double in several countries over the next five years, according to market research from IGD ShopperVista.
The fastest-growing online grocery markets are the UK, where shoppers spent €7.1bn in 2012, followed by France (€5bn), Germany (€1.1bn) and the Netherlands (€0.6bn). By 2016, IGD expects these markets to grow to €13.7bn, €10.6bn, €2.5bn and €1.6bn respectively.
IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch said: “Online retailing in food and consumer goods is growing at a phenomenal rate across Europe. Technology is empowering people, fundamentally changing the way they buy groceries.
“…Although we forecast the value of online grocery retailing to double in several European countries over the next few years, each market is evolving using different models, highlighting that there is no one-size-fits-all approach.”
In the UK, for example, a large proportion of online shoppers have children, especially young children at home. Meanwhile, French growth in the sector primarily has been driven by ‘click and collect’ – otherwise known as ‘drive’. And in Germany, IGD attributes the expansion to retailers like Edeka and Rewe, which have invested in the online channel.
Speaking to FoodNavigator, head of shopper insight at IGD, Ben Miller, said that general online shopping behaviours are well established, such as comparing prices and writing and reading reviews online.
“To what extent are these behaviours starting to play out in the grocery world?” he said. “…The planning phase is most active for grocery shopping. What we are saying to food manufacturers is to recognise that shoppers are making active shopping decisions in that pre-shopping phase.”
Strategies for food companies might include working with digital influencers, search engines or retailers’ websites.
“It’s all about understanding what shoppers want when they are shopping online – and what they are looking for is the macro trends,” he said.
Miller said that even wealthier shoppers were looking for cost savings online, where there is less ‘embarrassment factor’ in checking prices and returning them if they think they are too expensive.
“Shoppers quite happily say they shop online to make savings,” he said.
Denney-Finch said: “This presents itself as a huge opportunity for the food and consumer goods industry, and companies that are looking to grow their online capabilities need to ensure they continue to put shoppers at the heart of everything they do.”
Even in the biggest market for online shopping – the UK – only 0.45% of shoppers use online as their sole grocery-buying channel. However, it is the main grocery shopping channel for 8% of shoppers, and that number is growing. Just under a quarter of UK shoppers are doing some grocery shopping online each month, says Miller.
“The main driver is for convenience. They can fit it around their busy lifestyles.”