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Online Grocery Shopping to Surge to 70% by 2024

Growth outstrips projections, FMI/Nielsen study shows

While the vast majority of all CPG dollars are presently being spent in brick-and-mortar stores, the picture is going to be significantly different in as few as five to seven years, when a whopping 70% of consumers will routinely conduct grocery shopping online, so finds second-year results of FMI’s and Nielsen’s collaborative Digitally Engaged Food Shopper study.

The estimated $100 billion expenditure, which the research says is equivalent to every U.S. household spending $850 online for food and beverage annually, will occur between 2022 and 2024.

With omnichannel shopping now surpassing the tipping point and online grocery shopping moving at an accelerated path to rampant adoption, key findings from this year’s FMI/Nielsen joint study indicate the pace of change and acceptance has far outrun initial predictions, where the pervasiveness of online engagement could cut the timeline by as much as half.   

“The grocery industry is currently in the age of digital experimentation, where the road map on how to navigate and achieve real and profitable growth continues to evolve,” said Chris Morley, Nielsen’s U.S. president of FMCG and retail, during his presentation at the recently concluded FMI Midwinter Executive Conference in Miami. “While analytics will continue to be critical for retailers and manufacturers to understand the digitally engaged food shopper on a deeper level,” Morley said there are six "digital transformation imperatives" required of food and beverage manufacturers and brick-and-mortar retailers "to ready themselves for the rising digital grocery landscape." The six imperatives are as follows:

  • Align organizational structures for omnichannel success. Integrate digital offerings in parallel with brick-and-mortar operations.
  • Address discrepant datasets. Scrub master data files for discrepancies; strength in data and accuracy is a critical component to successfully support online sale efforts.
  • Integrate forecasts to increase operational efficiencies. Integrate online and offline forecasting so the right amount of inventory is available to meet orders through either channel.
  • Optimize shopper insights. Bring retailer and manufacturer shopper information together into a single, comprehensive view of customer insights.
  • Improve marketing and promotions. Optimize the management of omnichannel marketing and promotions.
  • Merge digital and in-store shelf capabilities. Manage the physical shelf and its digital counterpart to create a seamless shopping experience where consumers see the same information both on or offline.

“People, process and technology are the trifecta for a true omnichannel collaboration model,” said FMI Chief Collaboration Officer Mark Baum. “No matter the maturity stage, food retailers and their CPG business partners will find value in leveraging these six organizational imperatives as they respond for a more digitally engaged consumer.”

The Digitally Engaged Food Shopper: Developing Your Omnichannel Collaboration Model report and online readiness assessment is available on FMI's website.  

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