ALEXANDRIA, Va. – This year, 18 million U.S. adults will use a grocery app at least once a month. That number is up 49.6% over last year, according to eMarketer.com.
The report is based on apps that primarily deliver produce and perishable items, including meal kits, and predicts that next year, 20% of adults will use an app to purchase groceries or place food orders.
“Shoppers are becoming more comfortable with ordering online in general, and grocery is a part of that,” said Patricia Orsini, senior analyst for eMarketer. “A key hurdle, traditionally, for ordering fresh produce and other perishable items online has been delivery time, and the desire to hand-select produce and meat.”
The robust growth in grocery apps is fueled by the Amazon/Whole Foods merger and Walmart, which plans to expand its grocery delivery to 100 cities by year-end. In addition, Kroger is investing in numerous delivery initiatives, including partnering with British company Ocado to build high-tech warehouses where grocery orders will be picked and packed by machines. As retailers figure out how to be more efficient with fulfillment, costs for consumers will come down and another barrier to entry will fall, Orsini noted.
“While the percentage of online grocery sales remains small, it is one of the fastest-growing online categories,” she said. “While no one expects the number of brick-and-mortar grocery stores to seriously decline, the options consumers will have to purchase groceries will increase. Retailers recognize this; they are improving their online offerings in order to retain market share.”