In a recent survey of U.K. shoppers, 29 percent felt they make far fewer impulse purchases of grocery products online than in-store. In comparison, just seven percent said they make more impulse buys online than they do in a store, according to eDigitalResearch.
Shown by some studies over the years, more impulse buys are believed to be made in the grocery versus other channels given frequent shopper visits, the general appeal of food, as well as numerous in-store offers, from end-cap specials to the checkout aisle.
In a statement, Derek Eccleston, commercial director at eDigitalResearch, said the growth of online "has the ability to drastically hamper supermarkets, retailers and suppliers," especially as online grocery shopping continues to expand. Food retailers "need to be working closely with suppliers to understand this new breed of grocery shopper — they need to know how they shop and why, as well as what makes them buy what they do — in an effort to encourage online shoppers to spend more."
The survey of 1,154 online grocery shoppers in the U.K. also found that just 10 percent of online shoppers stick to the same brands for particular items. Price, not unsurprisingly, was one of the key drivers behind brand switches. eDigitalResearch said the findings suggest "promotions and offers are perhaps the best way to disrupt online grocery shops and encourage impulse buys. However, loyalty card promotions, search positions and product images all also have an effect on how people shop online."
Mintel's Online Grocery Retailing - UK report, based on a December survey of 951 internet users in the U.K. who buy groceries online, similarly found that 34 percent of all internet grocery shoppers believe they make fewer impulse purchases when buying online while only nine percent stated they make more impulse buys online.
Mintel said grocers should cultivate "serendipitous shopping" online to encourage more casual browsing and therefore unplanned purchases among internet shoppers. But it also warned that grocers "must strike a balance between capturing share of a growing market and protecting their interests: it looks to be more beneficial for them to follow customers online rather than lead them there."
How big a concern should lost impulse sales be for grocers selling online?