New ‘Role of Digital in Food Retailing’ research from IDC, commissioned by Precima, reveals fresh food and personalisation drive the value equation.

The analytics firm’s latest research* shows digital grocery shopping rates in Italy, Spain and France are growing fast and will soon catch up to the UK, considered the pacesetter in Europe.

More than 92% of retailers in these four leading economies offer digital grocery shopping and online purchases account for more than 11% of total sales for between a third and a half of these grocers.

Research also suggests that the number of people in these four countries spending more on food digitally is growing – with almost a third (30%) saying that by next year they expect to spend at least a quarter of their overall grocery budget online. This compares to 14% of consumers in 2018 and 27% this year.

These are some of the reasons why digital grocery shopping has reached the tipping point in UK, Italy, Spain and France:

1. The multiplier effect

  • More digital grocery shoppers are spending more online on more occasions.
  • When two-thirds of shoppers spend a quarter or more of their grocery budgets online, this will be a milestone for the industry.
  • For retailers in these countries this milestone is a mandate – not just to offer digital shopping, but also to make it competitive in terms of service levels, quality, cost, and experience.

2. Gateway purchases

  • What shoppers buy could be as significant as how much they buy.
  • Consumers in Italy, France, Spain and the UK are more likely to purchase non-perishable products online because they are less risky to order and ship.
  • As they gain comfort with these lower-risk “gateway” departments, the data reveals they add more fresh departments to the mix, resulting in larger online baskets.

3. Personalisation mandate

  • This is also the moment for grocery retailers to embrace personalisation, since digital shoppers regard relevant offers and assortments as must-have features.
  • Shopper expectations have been established from their experiences in other digital retail categories, as well as loyalty programmes that deliver add-to-card promotional deals – these are a crucial aspect of competitive strategy for grocery retailers.

“Online grocery shopping has moved beyond novelty to take its place as a familiar alternative”

Online grocery shopping in the leading markets has moved beyond novelty to take its place as a familiar alternative that many shoppers embrace on a regular basis. These trends, taken together, indicate digital grocery shopping has reached a tipping point in these four European countries.

Brian Crain is Head of Global Business Development at Precima, a global retail strategy and analytics company.

* In December 2018, two web-based surveys were conducted by IDC and sponsored by Precima. In all, 3,000 food shoppers and 292 food retailers responded. Read the full report here.