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Consumers Remain Skeptical of Grocery Delivery, While Companies Eye Growth in the Business

Retailers from Walmart to Kroger now offer grocery delivery, angling to compete with Amazon since it acquired Whole Foods in 2017.

But it doesn’t mean consumers are rushing to order groceries online.

According to a new Bain & Co. survey completed in collaboration with Google, just 3% of grocery spending in the U.S. takes place online, compared to much higher levels of e-commerce penetration in areas such as footwear (20%) and consumer electronics (40%). Only 25% of those surveyed tried an online grocery service in the last year and just 6% have consistently ordered groceries monthly online.

Part of the problem is perception. Some shoppers are concerned about determining the best prices when shopping online, while others complain about items being out of stock or delivery drivers being late.

But perhaps the biggest problem of all? While grocery delivery is intended to save time for consumers, only 42% of those surveyed said the service did so.

Since changing consumer habits is already difficult, their shopping experience can make the difference between a repeat customer and someone who swears off grocery delivery, according to Bain.

Despite these challenges, Bain expects that groceries will be part of e-commerce growth, which in total is expected to at least triple in the next decade. In order to be part of this boom, online grocery retailers will need to become even more convenient and incorporate features such as shopping lists and price comparison to convert consumers, the study concludes.