A year ago, market research found that just over a quarter of grocery buyers would consider doing some grocery shopping on the internet in the next 12 months, though just 3% actually did so.
This figure is just over double the number of internet food purchasers in 2011, but it is unlikely there will be a mass exodus to online grocery shopping any time soon, said Michele Levine, chief executive of Roy Morgan Research, which carried out the survey.
“While consumers are clearly not opposed to the idea, they seem to be having trouble putting it into practice,” Levine said.
“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.”
Levine said that organised shoppers found it easier to find what they wanted on shelves than “scrolling and searching for products by key words” online.
With the launch of an online delivery service by Aussie Farmers Direct with a “full supermarket shop” service earlier this year, which went into direct competition with Coles and Woolworths, the results might be different in a year’s time.
AFD currently commands 140,000 shoppers, and is now not far behind Coles Online, which has 180,000. However, both have a way to go before they catch up with Woolworths Online, at 237,000 shoppers.
Other players include CatchGroup-owned GroceryRun, which focuses on dry goods rather than fresh groceries; 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, Roy Morgan found.
American e-commerce colossus Amazon has been rumoured to be reading for entry into Australia, suggesting that the local grocery market 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.
“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,” Levine added.