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U.S. consumers are starting to shop for groceries more frequently online, and this option is even starting to replace in-store shopping for some, according to a new Harris Poll survey.
Overall, 31% of U.S. shoppers had bought groceries online “in the past six months.” The survey was conducted in late Jun 2016. Furthermore, 10% of those who bought groceries online said this habit had replaced some or all of their trips to traditional stores.
This process is most common in urban areas, where 38% of shoppers buy online. This compares to 30% in suburban areas and 25% in rural areas. This likely reflects the availability of these online grocery services primarily in urban areas with dense populations and sophisticated navigation technologies. But as their popularity grows, these services should start to appear in suburban and rural areas.
However, online merchants face a significant hurdle to mass adoption. Almost 60% of U.S. consumers who have never shopped for groceries online refuse to do so because they like to select their own fruits and vegetables in person, according to a Brick Meets Click report. Half of these people say they prefer to touch, smell, and see the produce before they buy it.
But grocers can boost their online sales through omnichannel services that would help ease shoppers into the idea of buying online. Click and collect, for example, is growing among grocers because it lets shoppers order online and then inspect the items when they pick them up at the store. This bridges the gap between physical and digital shopping.
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