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Time Edges Out COVID Concerns for Buying Groceries Online

Avoiding lines/saving a trip most popular reason to shop online among Gen Z, Rosie survey finds
grocery pickup
Photograph: Shutterstock

While safety concerns related to COVID drove more people to buy groceries online for pickup or delivery in the past year, it’s not the primary reason why consumers are shopping online.

The most popular reason, at 50%, is to save a trip to the grocery store and/or avoid lines, with COVID/safety concerns at 18%, according to a June survey of 5,000 online grocery shoppers by Rosie. Saving time was also the most popular reason among Gen Z (ages 23 and under) at 45%.

Rosie, an e-commerce solution for independent grocers and wholesalers, further found that most shoppers (80%) plan to continue placing grocery orders online at the same rate or more in the coming 12 months. This includes 87% of millennial respondents (ages 24-40) and 78% of Gen X/baby boomers (ages 41-70+).

Additional findings from Rosie’s survey include:

  • Pickup reigns as an e-commerce service, with 77% of respondents relying on pickup vs. delivery.
  • In-store signage and word of mouth were the most popular ways for customers to learn
  • about their local retailer’s online program, with 43% of millennials and 31% of Gen X/baby boomers learning about e-commerce through signs in-store. Word of mouth, meanwhile, traveled to 18% of millennials and 19% of Gen X/baby boomers.

This was the first customer survey Rosie has issued since the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants in the survey had either created a Rosie account or placed at least one online order with a Rosie retailer since Jan. 1, 2020.

Prior to the pandemic, Rosie’s customers typically saw about 1% to 3% of their sales coming from e-commerce, Nick Nickitas, CEO of Rosie, told WGB in an interview last September. Post-pandemic, Nickitas said those sales numbers could settle at about 10% to 15% of store sales.

The demographics of the online shopper have also changed. “You’ve got customer segments who had never purchased online before who are now using it regularly, even after the pandemic spike,” he said. “Traditionally, the highest demos for online grocery were young families, working professionals and the mobility impaired. But since COVID started, empty nesters, [those ages] 55 to 75 have become the second-largest demographic of online shoppers in the U.S., and I see this continuing to be a tool that all shoppers have in their toolkit, even after the pandemic is over.”

Rosie partners with independent grocers and their wholesalers to provide a customizable, branded e-commerce presence; delivery opportunities; omnichannel marketing; and deep data services. It is the preferred e-commerce partner to wholesalers such as Associated Food Stores, Associated Grocers of New England, Associated Wholesale Grocers, Bozzuto’s, CERTCO, C&S Wholesale Grocers and Piggly Wiggly Alabama Distributing Co.

Earlier this year, Rosie completed a $10 million round of Series A funding, enabling the team to introduce new tools to enhance the shopper and retailer experience; launch new products to provide a seamless omnichannel journey for shoppers at home, in-store or on-the-go; further invest in monetization opportunities to increase retailer profitability; and recruit talent to accelerate product development.

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