Amazon, Walmart Lead Online Grocery Shopping Satisfaction: RFG Study

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A benchmark study by the Retail Feedback Group (RFG) examining consumers’ use and satisfaction with online grocery shopping finds Amazon ranking the highest (4.63 on a 5-point scale) in overall satisfaction of ordering food and grocery items online, followed by Walmart (4.41) and other supermarkets and food stores (4.32).

RFG’s 2017 U.S. Online Grocery Shopper Study also found that online grocery shopping continues to gather momentum, with about half of online shoppers indicating they plan to purchase grocery items more often in the next year, and that online grocery shopping satisfaction across the generations was fairly similar: Millennials (4.50, Generation X (4.45) and Baby Boomers (4.50).

The majority (73 percent) of online grocery shoppers are still ordering from a computer, while 17 percent purchase from a smartphone or tablet, while 9 percent order from an iPhone or Android app. Further, consumers now purchase a wide range of supermarket-type items online, with more than half of shoppers buying grocery, HBC and nonfoods items, though a quarter of online grocery shoppers purchase from a range of departments throughout the store.

Satisfaction with Elements of the Online Shopping Experience by Provider

RFG’s 2017 U.S. Online Grocery Shopper Study segmented satisfaction scores on a variety of ordering, fulfillment and people factors, by provider. The results were distinct, particularly when examining those who were “highly satisfied” with their experiences.

Amazon shoppers ranked the most “highly satisfied” marks in the study, rating nearly all of the elements of the online shopping experience significantly higher than supermarket and food store shoppers. They also rated six elements significantly higher than Walmart shoppers, including:

  • The online checkout process worked well and without problems.
  • The website/app worked smoothly during the whole order process.
  • The items shoppers wanted to buy were available on the shopping website.
  • It was easy to navigate through the site/app to locate items.
  • The order pickup or delivery process was prompt and efficient.
  • The checkout staff or delivery driver was friendly.

Walmart shoppers rated four elements significantly higher than supermarket and food store shoppers, including:

  • The online checkout process worked well and without problems.
  • It was easy to identify sale or specials prices and apply those discounts during checkout.
  • Overall, the shoppers received good value for the money spent on the order.
  • There was an available pickup or delivery time that was convenient for the shopper.

Supermarket and food store shoppers registered lower “highly satisfied” scores on nearly all elements compared with Amazon and Walmart online grocery shoppers. However, this group ranked equally with Amazon and Walmart on one element: the checkout staff or delivery driver was knowledgeable and professional.

“Clearly, Amazon has effectively leveraged its deep roots in online retailing to inform their efforts in online grocery, leading to the strongest ‘highly satisfied’ marks found in our research,” says Brian Numainville, principal at RFG. “Walmart, although registering lower than Amazon on overall satisfaction and on several of the elements measured, also scored meaningfully higher than supermarkets/food stores in several areas core to their brand, including value, as well as identifying and receiving discounts. It appears supermarkets and food stores have work to do to improve their scores in online grocery shopping relative to these retailers.”

Online Versus In-store Grocery Shopping

The study also analyzed the perceived strengths of grocery shopping online versus in-store. While consumers named conveniences and making efficient use of their time as the top strengths for digital, physical grocery shopping is still favored. Consumers named several in-store grocery shopping strengths, including: provides products’ best meeting standards for quality and freshness; offers a better selection of products for shopper needs, makes shoppers feel more valued as a customer; provides better customer service; shows that the company knows and cares about food; and provides more value for the money spent.

However, online and in-store shopping received a balanced assessment across several areas, including: pleasantly surprising, enjoyable and taking better care of securing payment and personal information.

“While our research shows that in-store shopping currently holds a stronger position relative to online grocery shopping in quality and freshness, selection, service and value elements,” Doug Madenberg, principal at RFG, says, “brick and mortar retailers can’t afford to be complacent as online ordering could strive to reshape these areas in the future and negate some of these advantages. Further, retailers operating both online and instore food retailing channels should leverage the strengths of each to their fullest advantage.”

Produce Scores Low

Produce scored the worst in terms of quality and freshness. About eight out of 10 online shoppers said freshness and quality were the top factors when purchasing produce online, and 39 percent said the produce department fell short on their standards for quality and freshness.

Among those who do not purchase produce online, 66 percent said it’s because they want to choose produce items themselves, while 55 percent said it’s because the produce items might not be fresh enough. Only 16 percent blamed limited variety availability and 14 percent said produce prices might be higher online than in-store.

The study is based on a nationally representative sample of 760 respondents (65 percent female and 35 percent male) who shopped online for food and groceries in the last 30 days. 


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