Online grocery shoppers

Date : 20 March 2013

- How many currently shop online for groceries?
- Why shop online for groceries?
- Who shops online for groceries? 
- What’s important to online grocery shoppers? 
- What factors driver the choice of online retailer? 
- How quickly will the online grocery channel grow? 


Almost every household is able to buy their groceries online from the comfort of their own home, with three quarters (76%) of UK households now having a broadband internet connection[1].

How many currently shop online for groceries?

According to ShopperVista, our ongoing monitor of British grocery shoppers, around a fifth of households are buying groceries online every month. Of these, a third use online as their main channel for buying food and groceries, with two thirds using it a secondary channel.

Why shop online for groceries?

Many are drawn to the convenience of online grocery shopping, with over half telling us that it helps them save time. As one shopper told us recently

“I finalise my order on the train, and arrange for it to be delivered for when I get home”.

In addition, many find that shopping online saves them money. As well as reducing petrol fuel costs, many believe they buy fewer items on impulse when online as the temptation is easier to resist. As one shopper explained to us recently

“It saves me a lot of money because I’m not as distracted by everything around me as I am when in the shop. I spend up to £80 online compared to £100 if I physically go round the store”.

Who shops online for groceries?

Families are the most likely to shop online for groceries, particularly those with pre-school children – 32% of shoppers with children under five have bought groceries online in the past month, compared to 23% among other families and 17% among those without children in the home.

Londoners are also more likely to be online grocery shoppers, possibly due to lower levels of car ownership and the more established presence of Ocado in the capital – rising to 25% compared to 19% across the rest of the country.

Yet interestingly, the online grocery channel attracts a broad socio-economic spectrum of shoppers – 20% of both ABC1 shoppers and C2DE shoppers claim to have shopped online in the past month.

What’s important to online grocery shoppers?

Despite the broad socio-economic spectrum of online grocery shoppers, our ShopperVista research has found that they are more likely to be interested in ethical shopping, premium product ranges and healthy eating than other shoppers.

What factors driver the choice of online retailer?

The delivery service is one of the most important factors in determining which website shoppers use. Shoppers are often looking for a convenient slot, a competitive delivery charge, good customer service and 100% reliability.

Alongside this, however, perceptions about the price, quality and availability of products is also hugely influential.

How quickly will the online grocery channel grow?

According to ShopperVista, 12% of shoppers anticipate using online grocery websites more during 2013. The new generation of grocery shoppers are most intent on increasing their use of the online channel – rising to 29% among 18-24 year old shoppers. The existing demographic skews also look set to continue, with stronger intent also among young families (20% among those with under 5s) and Londoners (19%).

We predict that the UK online food and grocery market will almost double in value over the next five years, far exceeding the 18% growth expected for the total grocery market over this period. However, even by 2017, online grocery shopping will still only account for around 6% of total grocery sales in the UK at £11.1 billion.

[1] Source: Ofcom (2012)