Millions More Will Online Grocery Shop in Coming Months

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. — Today, 52 million U.S. consumers, or roughly one sixth the size of the population of the United States, already buy groceries online. Those who are lapsed or new to the process plan to do more of it during the next six months, according to The NPD Group.

The grocery channel lags other channels in e-commerce in terms of development; however, the fundamental shift in the country's demographics is one factor pushing consumers to adopt online food shopping, according to NPD's report The Virtual Grocery Store.

Younger generations in particular, especially millennials and members of Generation Z, who grew up with technology, favor grocery shopping online, finding it "second nature ... to use the Internet for all types of purchases." Millennials especially find the process appealing due to their appreciation of global cuisines and the convenience of finding all they need to make exotic dishes online.

Most online grocery shoppers are satisfied with the experience, as more than 60 percent of consumers are completely satisfied by the experience; 6 percent are neutral or dissatisfied; and others are just somewhat satisfied. While convenience, perhaps not surprisingly, is the top satisfaction driver, delivery options and shipping deals, infinite assortment and tax advantages also appeal to consumers.

For future success, brick-and-mortar retailers need to adjust to ensure they're not "losing out" with younger, more tech-savvy consumers, said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst.

"Now is the time to start developing ecommerce programs or to expand your current services," Seifer said. "Whether a manufacturer or retailer, now is the time to act while shoppers are experimenting, and there is significant growth on the horizon."