Monday, 12 December 2016 03:08

Aussies slow to embrace online grocery shopping, stick to supermarket visits


Australians have been slow to embrace online grocery shopping, with the vast majority still preferring their weekly trip to the supermarket, according to newly published research.

New research from Roy Morgan shows that in the 12 months of the 2014-15 financial year, Aussies made more than 2.5 trips per week to supermarkets – or a whopping 1.95 billion trips for the year.

According to Roy Morgan it seems that buying groceries via the Internet is an “appealing idea rather than a reality for most consumers”.

But, according to the research firm, it’s not that grocery buyers actively dislike the idea of doing their supermarket shopping online.

The survey reveals, in fact, that in the 12 months to June 2015, 26% of grocery buyer agreed that “I’d consider doing some of my grocery shopping on the Internet in the next 12 months”.

So what happened in those next 12 months? The survey showed that in that 12 months just 3% of grocery buyers did their supermarket shopping online in any given four-week period.

The research firm notes that, admittedly, this is an increase on 2011 (when it was 1.4%), but “it’s unlikely there will be a mass exodus to online grocery shopping any time soon”.

Roy Morgan says that with online delivery service Aussie Farmers Direct having launched a “full supermarket shop” service earlier this year (with which they intend to directly compete with Coles and Woolworths), this will be an area to monitor in coming months.

The research firm says that currently, almost 140,000 consumers say they mainly or sometimes shop with Aussie Farmers Direct, or have done so in the last four weeks – not far behind Coles Online (180,000 shoppers).

“However, both have a way to go before they catch up with Woolworths Online (237,000), Roy Morgan notes.

Roy Morgan also notes that there are the other players in the online grocery shopping space such as the CatchGroup-owned GroceryRun, which focuses on dry goods rather than fresh groceries., and Indo-Asian Grocery Store, offering online grocery shopping with an “international flavour”; and numerous smaller, locally-based businesses.

“Between them, they attract 106,000 customers in an average four weeks,” the research firm says.

According to Michele Levine, chief executive, Roy Morgan Research, the great disparity between the proportion of grocery buyers who say they’d consider doing their supermarket shopping online in the next 12 months, and the proportion who actually go on to do so, “speaks volumes about the state of online grocery shopping in Australia. While consumers are clearly not opposed to the idea, they seem to be having trouble putting it into practice”.

“One of the great things about online shopping in general is its convenience, but when it comes to groceries, this isn’t necessarily the case. What with all the scrolling, searching for products by key words rather than spotting them on the shelves, being organised enough so you know exactly what you want rather than grabbing items as you see them, it can be quite a challenge!

“But with the rumoured entry of US e-commerce colossus Amazon into Australia, will consumers be converted to online grocery shopping once and for all? Speculation is already rife about the ramifications of an Amazon expansion Down Under, with the local grocery market (both online and in-store) being just one retail sector that stands to be disrupted. It will also be interesting to track the success of Woolworths’ recently announced partnership with Australia Post to install more than 500 parcel lockers for their ‘Click-and-collect’ services, providing an extra 24/7 delivery option for their online customers.

“As our latest State of the Nation report reveals, there were some significant shifts in Australian retail last financial year, with supermarkets and other grocery retailers seeing their fair share of change. No doubt, the coming 12 months will bring even more developments. Whether a move to online grocery shopping is one of them remains to be seen.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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