What Makes a Digital Grocery Leader?

Tim Denman
October 16, 2023
Grocery Industry 2023

At a Glance

  • 150 grocers benchmarked across 200+ critical capabilities.
  • Grocers are ranked as either laggards, followers,challengers, or leaders.
  • 80% of shoppers will likely abandon their shopping trip if asearch is burdensome.
  • Shoppers are willing to pay extra for expedited delivery.
  • 30% of customers will leave their cart if the checkout processis too complex.
  • More than half of shoppers remain loyal to grocers thatoffer personalized recommendations.

The popularity of digital grocery shopping continues to grow — 71% of shoppers report shopping online for groceries at least once in the past year, up from 64% in 2022.

In addition to the number of shoppers that have utilized digital grocery shopping, the frequency they rely on the service has also increased. Digital grocery shoppers, on average, make 3.5 online trips per month, up from 3.1 last year, a 12% year-over-year increase. In addition, in the first half of 2023, grocers reported a 50% increase in large ticket (more than $100) orders compared to last year.

What is spurring all this growth? What digital features` are drawing customers in? Which grocers are leading the charge? To answer these questions and more, Grocery Doppio benchmarked the capabilities of more than 150 grocers across 200+ critical capabilities for its annual “Digital Maturity Benchmark: Grocery Industry 2023.”

The report dives deep into what customers want and how digitally savvy grocers are tooling up to meet demand. The entire report is available for free here, ranking grocers as either laggards, followers, challengers, or leaders. Below is a quick look at the findings of the four main categories explored in the report and the leading grocers from each.

Research and Discovery

The ability to navigate a grocer’s website and mobile app quickly and easily is a foundational capability upon which advanced features can be built. Without seamless search and navigation, a grocer’s website will never maximize shopper visits and will likely repeal shoppers prioritizing ease of use above all else.

Highlighting the need for seamless discovery is the fact that the majority (60%) of grocery shoppers search for products online before making a purchase, with 30% utilizing search filters to aid in their search. Around 80% of digital shoppers are likely to abandon their shopping trip if a search is ineffective and/or burdensome, while 30% are unsatisfied with grocers' ability to filter search.

Traits of a Leader

All leaders filter search results by dietary preferences, 40% filter by fulfillment method and timelines, and 33% filter via product content callouts. Newcomer ASDA joins perennial research and discovery leaders like Albertsons, Costco, and Target in this year's ranking.  

Online Ordering

Savvy grocers are investing heavily to provide a seamless, feature-laden omnichannel experience. While not as sexy as some of the other digital features shoppers have come to expect, a streamlined checkout process is a cornerstone of a winning online experience.

According to our findings, 30% of shoppers will abandon their cart if the checkout process is too complex. What features help ensure an easy and complete digital shopping journey? Seventy-five percent of shoppers prefer to see coupons pre-applied or proactively suggested before payment is finalized and 60% prefer contactless delivery methods.

Traits of a Leader

One hundred percent of online ordering leaders allow shoppers to re-order from past orders, 93% provide an expedited one-step checkout, 60% allow shoppers to see available promo codes in cart view, and 33% allow the sharing of online carts with others. Joining BJ’s, Sprouts, and Target on this year’s list of online ordering leaders is Fresco.

Frictionless Fulfillment

Inspired by the multitude of fulfillment options provided by big box and general merchandise retailers, digital grocery shoppers expect similar flexible and frictionless fulfillment options from grocers. Speed and accuracy are the defining factors of omnichannel fulfillment success. To meet demand for lightning quick fulfillment, nearly 60% of retailers now offer 30-minute to 2-hour delivery.

Interestingly, 45% of shoppers are willing to pay extra for expedited delivery under two hours, with 70% preferring BOPIS pickup and 73% preferring real-time alerts on order status.

Traits of a Leader

Every grocer characterized as a leader in the report allows customers to leave notes for effective delivery, 87% offer delivery membership clubs that provide discounted fees, 77% have espress pickup and delivery options, and 40% have some sort of pickup locker service available.

HyVee, Jewel Osco, and Loblaws are among the 15 grocers named leaders in the frictionless fulfillment category, along with fresh-to-the-list Lowes Foods.

Customer Engagement and Service

Grocers must provide exceptional customer engagement and service to differentiate from the competition. Customers' shopping and purchase decisions are heavily influenced by customer engagement quality and the comprehensive service provided.

Quality customer engagement and service differ from shopper to shopper, but there are universal elements of above-average service. More than half (56%) of digital grocery shoppers remain loyal to grocers that offer personalized recommendations based on their preferences and purchase history. Successful personalization requires extensive customer data, and 87% of shoppers are willing to consent to data collection if it leads to a more enjoyable and customized experience.

Digitally savvy, modern grocery customers crave personalized experiences, and 58% of grocers embrace the digital tools necessary to provide tailored shopping journeys.

Traits of a Leader

To provide the engagement and service customers demand 64% of grocery leaders provide on-demand support via live chat, 57% have 24/7 virtual assistant/bot support, 50% provide shoppers the ability to save offers in their profile, and 29% provide personalized interactions with experts.

Food Lion, Hannaford, and Walgreens have all stepped up their customer engagement and service abilities this year, making the ranks of leaders for the first time.

Learn More

To learn more about what sets leaders apart, the features shoppers crave most, and how you stack up against your peers, be sure to download the full “Grocery Industry 2023” report for free here.