While online shopping—and Amazon in particular—dominate the grocery story in the U.S., just 20% of Canadians say they plan to buy groceries online in the next year, according to new research from PwC.
Another 69% of the 1,000 respondents to PwC’s “Consumer Insights” survey said they were “unsure or not likely” to shop online. Instead many Canadians prefer to make regular “micro-trips” to the grocery store. Micro-trips are defined as in-store trips less than five minutes long.
According to the survey, 26% of shoppers make such trips to grocery stores two to three times a week, 23% said weekly and 10% said daily or more.
PwC concluded Canadians like to shop in store so they can see and touch the products. “Nearly half of respondents said they have concerns over the quality of products, and just over a quarter said they believe food could be damaged in transport,” according to PwC.
The study authors also concluded that sustainability is no longer a “nice to have” but a “must have” for grocery retailers, with shoppers looking for organic food items, sustainable packaging and food that is ethically produced.
“The trend for locally produced is particularly high among 18–24-year-olds, with 74% citing this as important, followed by 70% for organic and 49% for sustainable packaging,” according to PwC.
Aside from more sustainable products, shoppers are looking for more healthy products, said PwC, pointing to Canadian Grocer’s recent Market Survey research for further support:
- One of the factors leading to a rise in specialty store is changing consumption habits, with growing preference for plant-based food and humanely-raised meat.
- People choose to shop in person not only because they want to see what they buy, but also to fulfill the need for human connection, said PwC. Grocery retailers may want to consider park benches in-store or patio space to facilitate social interactions.
Asked about ways to improve their in-store experience, 52% of respondents said “the ability to quickly and conveniently navigate the store,” while 32% said quick and easy payment methods including mobile and contactless options.
“Canadians want ease and convenience when shopping and they are using more technology to help them with decision-making,” said Myles Gooding, national retail leader, PwC Canada, in a press release. “With more technology platforms aggregating data, retailers should tailor their offerings to make unique experiences for customers.”
PwC offered five recommendations for grocery retailers looking to improve their consumers’ shopping experiences:
- Click-and-collect services let people shop online at work or during their commute to save them time, while also allowing them to see the product before taking it home.
- Offer incentives for repeat purchases through a loyalty program that tracks shopping behaviour.
- Offer mobile payment solutions; this will be popular with shoppers who want to make quick and easy micro-trips.
- Consider logistics companies working to reduce their environmental footprint.
- Be more transparent about where, when and how food is sourced. This will require increased investment in supply chain practices, but “investing in such practices… will gain customers’ loyalty and trust.”