Online grocery shopping could top $100 billion by 2025, FMI/Nielsen research reveals

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Online grocery shopping could top $100 billion by 2025, FMI/Nielsen research reveals


By Kevin Francella

Online grocery shopping could reach $100 billion by 2025, representing nearly a quarter of all grocery sales, according to preliminary findings of a multi-year joint study from the Food Marketing Institute and Nielsen. FMI and Nielsen released a preview of their Digitally Engaged Food Shopper analysis at the FMI Midwinter Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., held Jan. 27-Jan. 30.

Additional findings from this study show that online food shopping will reach maturation in the U.S. within the next decade, far faster than other industries that have gone online before.

The research also revealed that the center store is likely to shift online faster than other departments, suggesting a fundamental evaluation of the role the store plays in digital food shopping. The research estimates that in the current climate of technology adoption and evolution, consumer spend on online grocery shopping could reach $100 billion, which is the equivalent of 3,900 grocery stores based on store volume.

“While we are more connected than ever to influence what shoppers buy, the window to influence those moments is narrowing,” said Mark Baum, FMI’s chief collaboration officer. “FMI and its members will need to seize the opportunity to harness new skills and collaborate more seamlessly than ever before to effectively reach these digitally savvy food shoppers. We’re building the tools to help our members assess where they are in their connected commerce strategies.”

“The grocery business truly is at a digital tipping point, where every aspect of the shopper’s journey will soon be influenced by digital, and increasingly enabled by digital platforms,” said Chris Morley, president of U.S. Buy at Nielsen. “The need for retailers and manufacturers to know the differences around how consumers shop online versus in-store is greater than ever before. Analytics will be key for retailers and manufacturers to understand the digitally engaged food shopper on a deeper level. Beyond unified insights that connect the dots across consumer interaction and platforms, the winning strategy will turn metrics into action steps towards effective digital engagement.”

Key findings of the research:

• Multi-channel shopping: More shoppers are buying more of their groceries across channels. In fact, 23 percent of American households are buying food online today. This upward trend continues - of those that will buy online, 60% expect to spend over a quarter of their food dollars online in ten years.

• Digital experimentation: Grocery retailers and manufacturers are meaningfully experimenting with business models and technologies to find their way online. However, the road to success has not been paved.

• Grocery saturation: Grocery shopping will reach digital maturity and saturation faster than other industries before, such as publishing or banking.

• Center store migration: Center store categories are already migrating online, and this migration is expected to continue.

• Young and digital: Younger, newer and more engaged digital shoppers adopt grocery-related digital technologies more quickly and will further hasten the expansion of digital grocery shopping.

With grocery as the next big retail sector that will be reshaped by digital, retailers and manufacturers need the tools to realize their connected commerce readiness in order to meet the needs of the digital food shopper. An FMI and Nielsen online assessment enables them to assess six areas that are most important to online grocery shoppers: trust, value, experience, assortment, convenience and personalization.

The Digitally Engaged Food Shopper study is part of a strategic alliance and multi-year initiative with FMI and Nielsen to uncover comprehensive insights on current and future digital shopping behaviors within the food retail marketplace. A copy of the full report is available at

Francella is brand director for Store Brands.