Last updated on June 9, 2021

It’s hard to find an industry that was exempt from COVID-19’s impact, and the vital industry of grocery stores was no exception. According to Statista, 24% of Canadians are frequent online shoppers in 2021 but did that number change with the pandemic? And how does this number translate to grocery purchases?

In November 2019, almost 16% of Canadians stated that they currently buy groceries online. Of those that do not buy groceries online, over 53 percent were willing to try the service in the future. One year later, Caddle found that 29% of Canadians began shopping for groceries online during the COVID-19 pandemic. So, it’s no surprise the grocery industry is responding, as 30% of Canadian independent grocers began offering online ordering options this year.

What else are Canadians saying about online grocery in Canada?

Panel Stats:

Earlier in November, 2020, over 8,000 Canadians were surveyed through Caddle’s panel on the topic of grocery shopping online. Now, six months later, Caddle was curious to find out if grocery shopping online is a behaviour that will stick post-pandemic. Or, will Canadians revert back to their old ways of good old fashioned shopping in-store.

And the results are in

So, how do Canadians feel about online grocery shopping now compared to six months ago? We see a slight increase in the adoption of online grocery shopping from November to today – 29% vs. 32%. However, much of what Caddle discovered points to consumers opting back to in-store grocery shopping.

Plus, with the majority (59%) of Canadians planning on getting the COVID-19 vaccine, perhaps it makes sense that consumers are looking to go back to their old ways of grocery shopping in a physical store. Before we get into why Canadians are a no-go with online grocery shopping, let’s start with the top reasons why Canadians adopted the behaviour shift of shopping for groceries online in the first place.

What do you like most about online grocery shopping?

Top 3 reasons Canadians grocery shop online today: ‘Saves time’, ‘I don’t leave my home’, and to ‘Avoid lines + protects me from COVID-19’ are the main reasons why Canadians today are shopping for groceries online. We can see from the chart above that in November, there was higher concern about walking through the grocery store itself, which came in at the 3rd spot.

How likely are you to continue to grocery shop online after the COVID-19 pandemic?

Consumers begin shifting back to in-store: Canadians are less likely to continue online grocery shopping after the pandemic. (44% unlikely in Nov 2020 vs. 49% unlikely in May 2021). This 5 basis point shift suggests that Canadians may be feeling more confident in a return to normalcy. What’s more, it’s the drastic shift towards ‘very unlikely’ to grocery shop online that indicates consumers’ preference for in-store grocery shopping.

What do you dislike most about online grocery shopping?

What are the consumer pain-points? According to our panel, Canadians agree that the most disliked factor of online grocery shopping is the inability to see and touch their produce, followed by a lack of product discovery, and additional fees such as shipping costs. This is consistent in the last six months, suggesting that there has been little innovation in online grocery shopping platforms to address these roadblocks for consumers.

Fresh produce is a large part of the grocery shopping experience.

For example, Costco shoppers make up the majority of baskets with fresh produce, with the top 50 products purchased at Costco being fresh produce. Though the top reason for not shopping for groceries online is the inability to touch and feel the product, 70% of Amazon Subscribe and Save users are likely to use Amazon Fresh once available. While there are aspects of the online grocery shopping experience consumers are frustrated with, this high adoption rate points to the fact that online grocery shopping is not going away. Rather, it is quite the opposite- it needs more attention from companies to strengthen their position among competition.

How do you feel about the following statement: “Online grocery shopping is a frustrating experience”?

Main Takeaways

No.1 |

Companies have an opportunity to investigate their online grocery user experience and stand out among their competitors by relieving consumer pain points in creative ways.

No.2 |

32% of Canadians are currently shopping for groceries online. What are the roadblocks preventing consumers from hitting the checkout button on your brand/product? Contact us to find out.

No.3 |

Top 3 reasons Canadians grocery shop online today: ‘Saves time’, ‘I don’t leave my home’, and to ‘Avoid lines + protects me from COVID-19’.

No.4 |

Fresh produce is a large part of the grocery shopping experience, and companies need to spend more time and energy investigating how they can make the online shopping experience more satisfying to consumers.

The grocery industry will look very different after the pandemic. Read our latest report in partnership with The Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University on the future of the grocery sector.

*Disclaimer: all data presented is owned by Caddle and has a Margin of Error of 1% or lower.

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