Digital Grocery Shopping Gains More Ground in Europe

Brian Crain
Grocery store retail worker from warehouse stocks fridge aisle of store

New ‘Role of Digital in Food Retailing’ research from IDC, commissioned by Precima, reveals fresh food and personalisation drive the value equation.

The analytics firm’s latest research* shows digital grocery shopping rates in Italy, Spain and France are growing fast and will soon catch up to the UK, considered the pacesetter in Europe.

More than 92% of retailers in these four leading economies offer digital grocery shopping and online purchases account for more than 11% of total sales for between a third and a half of these grocers.

Research also suggests that the number of people in these four countries spending more on food digitally is growing – with almost a third (30%) saying that by next year they expect to spend at least a quarter of their overall grocery budget online. This compares to 14% of consumers in 2018 and 27% this year.

These are some of the reasons why digital grocery shopping has reached the tipping point in UK, Italy, Spain and France:

1. The multiplier effect

  • More digital grocery shoppers are spending more online on more occasions.
  • When two-thirds of shoppers spend a quarter or more of their grocery budgets online, this will be a milestone for the industry.
  • For retailers in these countries this milestone is a mandate – not just to offer digital shopping, but also to make it competitive in terms of service levels, quality, cost, and experience.

2. Gateway purchases

  • What shoppers buy could be as significant as how much they buy.
  • Consumers in Italy, France, Spain and the UK are more likely to purchase non-perishable products online because they are less risky to order and ship.
  • As they gain comfort with these lower-risk “gateway” departments, the data reveals they add more fresh departments to the mix, resulting in larger online baskets.

3. Personalisation mandate

  • This is also the moment for grocery retailers to embrace personalisation, since digital shoppers regard relevant offers and assortments as must-have features.
  • Shopper expectations have been established from their experiences in other digital retail categories, as well as loyalty programmes that deliver add-to-card promotional deals – these are a crucial aspect of competitive strategy for grocery retailers.

“Online grocery shopping has moved beyond novelty to take its place as a familiar alternative”

Online grocery shopping in the leading markets has moved beyond novelty to take its place as a familiar alternative that many shoppers embrace on a regular basis. These trends, taken together, indicate digital grocery shopping has reached a tipping point in these four European countries.

About the Author

Brian Crain

Partnerships & Business Development Lead

Brian Crain leads Partnerships and Business Development for Precima for Europe, Middle East, Asia, Africa and New Zealand/Australia. Based in Paris, France, Brian brings his 20+ years of software, analytics and new markets experience to lead retail and B2B growth for Precima. His focus and inspiration is on building long-term partnerships with companies to unlock huge value from Precima’s AI, analytic and software capabilities. 

Brian has been in Europe for the past six years, building on his Silicon Valley and US retail experience. Before Precima, Brian led IBM’s EMEA Merchandising practice, working with retailers such as Coop DK, Coop SW, Monoprix, Carrefour MAF, Conad and ECI. In the US, he led Change the Business activities at HEB Grocery (an $18 billion retailer in the United States), and was a manager at Accenture consulting for eBay, ETrade and others. He also led price optimization projects at DemandTec for retailers such as Safeway, Target and Cencosud.