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Nearly 80% of Americans shopped online for groceries during the crisis

More Americans are shopping online for groceries and doing it more often since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey by Inmar Intelligence.

Of more than 300 US consumers polled, 78.7% reported shopping online for groceries after the COVID-19 outbreak, up 39% from before the pandemic, said Winston-Salem, NC-based Inmar, which provides data analytics and technology solutions for retailers and manufacturers. What’s more, 56.7% of respondents said they shop for groceries online more often now than before the pandemic.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the spread of COVID-19 a global pandemic on March 11, and two days later President Trump declared the virus a national emergency in the US

Availability has played a key role in customer decision-making on where to buy groceries during the pandemic, Inmar noted. Fifty-one percent of consumers surveyed said they preferred a grocery retailer that had the item(s) they wanted in stock, and 39% chose a retailer based on whether it had a grocery pickup or delivery time slot available in the desired window.

According to Jim Hertel, senior vice president of analytics at Inmar, the impact of COVID-19 has accentuated existing catalysts for online grocery: A strong e-commerce presence helps retailers spur growth and brand loyalty, and consumers tend to choose a retailer based on convenience and availability.

“Consumers continue to look to e-commerce options for their groceries due to the convenience factor,” Hertel explained. “This trend is likely to continue even as restrictions are lifted, as shoppers have grown accustomed to this routine. Today’s shoppers expect convenient and personalized engagements in every interaction, across all touch points. Retailers and brands must work to seamlessly deliver meaningful experiences that delight shoppers and drive loyalty.”

Inmar’s survey findings underscored the importance of those experiences in the omnichannel age, as consumers shift their grocery shopping venues. Of those polled, 51.4% reported buying groceries from Amazon since the start of the pandemic, up 32% from before the outbreak. Likewise, brand manufacturers saw a 117% surge in direct-to-consumer grocery sales after the onset of COVID-19, while online grocery stores saw a 48% increase.

With the pandemic changing the way many consumers shop for groceries, retailers must also offer a cost-effective online experience by serving up digital savings opportunities that expand their offerings and bolster customer loyalty, noted Diana Medina, vice president or retail transformation at Inmar.

“E-commerce impacts retail sales, growth and profitability more and more each day. As consumers continue to buy their groceries online, retailers need to start engaging shoppers in new, innovative and profitable ways,” according to Medina. “They need to look at building a comprehensive digital commerce solution that can serve as the foundation for future innovation, while driving sustainable growth and maintaining customer relationships.”

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