More than 20 percent of adults will order groceries with an app by 2019
New York-based market researcher eMarketer reported that 18 million U.S. adults have used a grocery app at least once a month this year, up 49 percent over last year.
Such robust growth for grocery apps is being fueled by the Amazon.com/Whole Foods Market merger and Walmart, which is expanding its grocery delivery from six cities to 100 by the end of the year, eMarketer said on its website. By next year, it predicts more than one in five adult smartphone users will seek a grocery app to order food.
Online grocery sales so far represent 2.8 percent ($14.94 billion) of all U.S. e-commerce sales, said Patricia Orsini, eMarketer’s senior analyst, but grocery is one of the fastest-growing categories. Amazon.com and Whole Foods have pushed grocery chains like The Kroger Co. to put more effort into grocery delivery and make customers more comfortable ordering produce and meat online.
“Shoppers are becoming more comfortable with ordering online in general, and grocery is a part of that,” Orsini said. “A key hurdle, traditionally, for ordering fresh produce and other perishable items online has been delivery time, and the desire to hand-select produce and meat.”
While the Shipt and Instacart apps broke ground in the grocery segment, most grocers have introduced their own apps, which often link existing customer loyalty programs, provide customized offers, rewards and coupons, and add a sense of familiarity. This may be the deciding factor in moving shoppers from in-store only to occasional app purchases, eMarketer said.
Still, the general food and beverage category (including nonperishables) is one of the most underpenetrated within the U.S. e-commerce market, eMarketer’s report said. “But the options consumers will have to purchase groceries will increase,” Orsini added. “Retailers recognize this; they are improving their online offerings in order to retain market share.”