• How do online and in-store shopping stack up when it comes to shopping for CPG products?
  • We provide key insight into how consumers are shopping these days so you can build an effective digital and brick-and-mortar strategy to meet their needs and win their loyalty.

The way people shop has changed

According to our recent 2022 CPG +Grocery TrendWatch,* consumers shop more online now, which has led to the explosion of ecommerce. Thirty-one percent of people say they’re shopping online more since the pandemic. The number is even higher for affluent shoppers (those with a household income over $100K), at 39%.

As smartphones have become ubiquitous, consumers are using them to shop, turning to brand apps to research, shop and complete transactions on their device right from the palm of their hand anywhere, at any time. Per our respondents, this is especially the case for segments including Gen Z (28%) and millennial parents (28%).

In addition, our survey found that subscription services and social media purchases appeal to younger generations and parents as an easy and convenient way to shop, especially for busy consumers.

Online vs. in-store: it’s complicated

Online shopping became a necessity during the pandemic, and as such the general comfort level with it appears to have increased, for both consumers and retailers. It’s efficient, easy and convenient. Despite the convenience of online shopping, a majority of our respondents indicated they prefer the overall experience of shopping in-store (51%).

Chart depicting whether consumers prefer overall experience of shopping online or in-store or both the same

In-store shopping gives consumers the opportunity to discover new products, finding what they need — and even making impulse purchases they didn’t know they needed! They also find it easier to use coupons and access discounts in the store than online.

It’s important to note, however, that our survey suggests that there a few significant generational and segment differences where these preferences are concerned:

  • Gen Z rates in-store and online shopping nearly the same when it comes to convenience meeting their needs (42% and 40% respectively), and equally for finding the items they need (36%)
  • Affluent shoppers report that online beats in-store on price (36%) and finding the items they need (37%), and even more so for saving time (64%)
  • Baby boomers say they appreciate the ease of using coupons and taking advantage of discounts offered by in-store shopping (72%)
  • When it comes to grocery shopping in particular, millennial parents (63%) say that they enjoy the online shopping experience more than most other consumer segments

Although our survey found that in-store shopping accounts for most purchases, there are a few observations worth noting for online shopping:

  • Millennial parents report that they make 23% of their packaged food and beverage purchases online — more than most other groups
  • Consumers make almost a quarter (23%) of their beauty/personal care products online — this increases to 32% for affluent shoppers
  • Pet food/pet care has the highest percentage of purchases made online, led by affluent shoppers as they make 37% of their purchases in this category online, followed by baby boomers (32%)

Delight shoppers wherever they are

So, what can marketers do with this information to ensure they appeal to consumers’ preferred shopping experience, be it online or offline? Start with these three tips:

1. Improve the online shopping experience

Retailers think they’re providing a better experience than they are. For example, 77% of grocers say they meet consumer needs for an enjoyable online shopping experience — but only 51% of our respondents agree. Review your online shopping procedure from first click all the way through purchase. But don’t stop there. Ensure the experience excels post-final click, all the way to delivery, including order status updates and return procedures.

Table: Survey responses to how well primary grocer meets needs for enjoying the shopping experience

2. Help shoppers plan their shopping

People are busy. They want shopping, especially shopping for essential products, to be a breeze — and it should be. Again, according to our survey, grocery retailers are not on the same page as consumers when it comes to shopping planning tools like printed circulars sent to their home, or interactive digital versions of the same. This is an opportunity for retailers to step up their efforts to provide helpful planning tools to shoppers who are keen on having an efficient shopping experience, whether online or in the store.

Chart: Industry vs. consumer perspective of how well primary grocer meets shoppers' needs for printed circular and weekly digital ad

3. Prepare for the future of shopping

Technology continues to evolve with consumer needs — and so should the technology retailers use to facilitate and enhance the buying experience. It’s critical to know what your target segment(s) value in a shopping experience and be aware of technology trends that make it possible for you to deliver.

To learn more about what today’s consumers are looking for in a shopping experience, download our 2022 CPG +Grocery TrendWatch report.

*Vericast 2022 CPG + Grocery TrendWatch: consumer survey fielded April 2022 (n = 1,909), industry survey fielded April 2022 (n = 305)