‘Strong contingent’ of shoppers will use ecommerce after pandemic, but for different reasons

Brahm Buck

The research, jointly released during FMI’s Midwinter Executive Conference, revealed Americans spent $106b on food and beverage online in 2020 – a 125% increase from the prior year. This accounted for 44% of online sales and far outpaced that of any other category – including health and beauty, which long […]

The research, jointly released during FMI’s Midwinter Executive Conference, revealed Americans spent $106b on food and beverage online in 2020 – a 125% increase from the prior year. This accounted for 44% of online sales and far outpaced that of any other category – including health and beauty, which long held the lead position for online sales.

Nearly a year into the pandemic, sustained online of food and beverage sales remain elevated at about $3b more per month than in 2019 – a statistic that suggests the novelty of online grocery shopping isn’t wearing off, but rather becoming an engrained habit that will sustain even once the threat of COVID-19 ebbs, Elizabeth Buchanan, head of consumer intelligence, North America, at NielsenIQ told attendees during the executive conference.

But, she cautioned, online grocery retailers and food and beverage brands selling direct-to-consumer online should not take for granted the surge in sales and heightened consumer interest in ecommerce. Rather, she said, “merchants and brands are going to have to have a very intentional strategy for continuing to attract and gain net new shoppers, drive repeat purchase and trips online and increase average spend per shopper.”

How successful they are at this will determine the size of the prize for traditional CPG food and beverage manufacturers for online shopping in 2021, which FMI and NielsenIQ predict could range from a conservative $94b to an aggressive $109b in 2021.

Where in this scale food and beverage online sales fall this year will depend heavily on the extent to which retailers and brands understand why consumers adopted online shopping in 2020 and their collective ability to attract new shoppers, retain existing and grow overall spend, Buchanan said.

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