Evolving the online retail landscape
Few retail channels changed as much, as fast as grocery during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For many grocery retailers, building a robust e-commerce infrastructure became a priority overnight as shoppers moved online in the early days of the pandemic. CPG sales increased by $8.5 billion during the two-weeks between March 7 and March 21, 2020. According to NielsenIQ’s historical data, that’s 15 times the category’s average rate of change.
During this time, 35% more people shopped online for CPG items, and grocery items drove a significant portion of online sales—online CPG sales increased 91% during that first week.
Since then, e-commerce’s share of individual grocery categories has tripled compared to pre-COVID-19 levels. That’s twice as high as forecasters believed grocery e-commerce could grow as a channel before the pandemic.
The pandemic also accelerated the rise of “conscious shoppers”—those who make active choices to prioritize health and wellness in their daily lives.
As of March 2022, NielsenIQ data found that 29% of consumers actively seek healthier options when browsing online for groceries. According to NielsenIQ’s 2022 Consumer Outlook online survey, nearly three-quarters of consumers said their priorities and shopping habits changed due to the pandemic, and one-third said their priorities around wellness are much different than they were in 2019.
In the U.S., 30% of consumers are more likely to buy products with sustainable credentials. Shoppers searching for “organic” products online increased by 163% since last year and “plant-based” searches grew 148%. Sales of “keto” products increased 265% compared to three years ago, and “vegan” product sales grew 102% in the same time frame.
Grocery retailers have invested heavily in their online presences to accommodate these overlapping channel and consumer behavior changes. For many, it started with enhancing product content so consumers can find or discover them.
The e-commerce experience audit from NielsenIQ
Shoppers expect to easily find the products that meet their needs online. Retailers can meet and exceed these expectations with advanced search features like “faceted search” which helps customers filter search results by granular attributes brand, dietary preferences, allergens or intolerances, and many others.
To determine how retailers are driving product discovery through advanced filters and organic searches, NielsenIQ companies Label Insight and Brandbank, audited 40 top U.S. retailers across the grocery, health and beauty, and pet industries.
The resulting report, the “Digital Depth Analysis: The e-commerce experience audit,” analyzes how well retailers are enabling shoppers to discover products through organic and faceted search and ranks their ability to make wellness products accessible to interested shoppers.
This edition of the audit also includes an in-depth analysis of how retailers are helping shoppers find products that adhere to standards like dietary needs and restrictions or sustainability. The following video explains more.
Our findings show that all too often, shoppers can’t discover the products they are looking for.
By adding advanced search and filter features, digital customers will be guided to the right items. And when they can quickly and easily find what they’re looking for, they’re more likely to make a purchase and return to the site in the future.
Other important takeaways from the new report include a deep dive into four ways to better reach conscious consumers online: by delivering relevant product attributes
, building detailed content, creating robust shopper engagement, and personalized experiences.
Learn more about the current retailer landscape and the actions retailers can take to maintain shopper loyalty online by downloading the complete and updated study, “Digital Depth Analysis: The e-commerce experience audit.”