Digital grocery rankings underscore importance of a frictionless customer experience

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

©GettyImages /milindri
©GettyImages /milindri

Related tags: Online grocery shopping, e-commerce, Winsight

A grocery retailer's digital capabilities are factoring in more strongly in long-term sales growth and customer satisfaction, reveals a new report by Incisiv and Winsight Grocery Business.

The Grocery Digital Maturity Benchmark study covers the 80 largest retailers in the US and Europe (including the UK). The report​ ​focused on the top 50 retailers and examined their past and future projected digital grocery sales from 2018 through 2023. 

While online grocery sales remain relatively in its infancy, the study forecasts annual digital grocery sales to surpass $150bn by 2025, growing 26% on a year-over-year basis. Digital grocery sales are projected to reach 13.5% of total US grocery sales in 2024.

"Grocers need only look at the growth of Amazon in the grocery segment to see the importance of attaining increased digital maturity,"​ said Gaurav Pant, Incisiv's chief insights officer.

"Whether in the US or Europe, grocers who have yet to enter the digital space or need to regain control of their e-commerce experience should look to Target, Kroger, BJ's and LeShop; these leaders' expertise in research and discovery, ease of ordering, order fulfillment, and customer engagement and service enable them to retain their data, shopper experience and brand,"​ said Sylvain Perrier, president and CEO of Toronto-based Mercatus. 

"Like retailers in other channels, grocers cannot afford to or minimize the importance of digitization and digital maturity,"​ Pant added. "It's the bottom line."

The 'make-it-or-break-it' moments in the digital customer journey

The study analyzed digital grocery sales platforms across multiple channels including conventional, discount, and warehouse/club stores. Approximately 120 attributes and 10,000 data points were captured across the four "make-it-or-break-it stages"​ of the customer journey and experience, including research and discovery, ease of ordering, order fulfillment, and customer engagement and service.

The report found that warehouse stores scored the highest in customer service and engagement during 'research and discovery,' the first stage of a customer's digital experience. Overall, top performers by customer journey were US retailers, including Target for research and discovery, Kroger for ease of ordering, and BJ's for order fulfillment. BJ's successful point of differentiation in order fulfillment, for instance, is that it delivers to customers within a two-hour window along with a customer notification once orders reach the store. 

The study ranked 25 of the top retailers in the US and Europe based on their customer's digital experience using their respective digital grocery platform. Below are the US retailers that made the list and their rank out of 25. 

Top US retailers in digital grocery:

1. BJ's Wholesale Club

6. The Kroger Co.

7. Costco Wholesale Club

8. Target Corp.

10. Walmart

12. Wegmans Food Markets

14. Hy-Vee

15. H-E-B

17. Safeway

18. Albertsons Cos.

20. Family Fare

22. Cub Foods

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