Exclusive: 41% of U.S. Consumers First Bought Food Online During COVID-19

May 27, 2020
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While the COVID-19 outbreak has impacted all types of businesses, few have seen the kind of sales boom that online supermarkets have experienced in recent months. So when we recently conducted a survey on the ways this crisis has impacted consumers’ online shopping, we expected to see some significant differences between sentiment regarding online supermarkets and other online retailers. 

But even we were surprised by some of our findings.

At the top of the list: Of U.S. consumers who have bought food online since the outbreak first started affecting shopping habits, 41% had never previously bought food online.

All told, 47% of respondents said that they had bought food online during this crisis. Meanwhile, 41% of respondents said they had bought food online for the first time during the same period – a far higher figure than we saw for any other product category.

Why does that matter? Perhaps most importantly, it is likely to impact online supermarkets’ future sales. 

With so many consumers still new to the experience of buying groceries online, it is critical for supermarkets to offer them customer experiences that will both maximize short-term sales and foster long-term loyalty. This is especially true because these shoppers have overwhelmingly been pushed toward online supermarkets by a sudden and dramatic yet temporary crisis. It’s up to online supermarkets to lay the groundwork now, so that even after this outbreak is behind us, these consumers will still choose to buy their groceries via the internet.

And, as our survey also shows, there is real future sales potential for any online supermarket that can make the right impression with customers now. To measure the sustainability of the sales boom of recent months, we asked participants how they expect their online spending on groceries to change after the end of the crisis. Encouragingly, 64% said they plan to either maintain or increase this spending after the end of the outbreak.

The threat of Customer Journey Hijacking

Our findings also shed light on the risk that Customer Journey Hijacking poses to online supermarkets. This is an expensive problem that affects 20% of online shopping sessions across the board, displaying injected ads to consumers as they visit eCommerce websites – with most such ads promoting products sold by competing websites. 

To gauge the impact of Customer Journey Hijacking during the COVID-19 outbreak, we asked survey participants about their likely responses if they were to view this kind of ad while shopping online. In response, 53% said that in this scenario, they would be likely to click on the ad.

This finding underscores the power of Customer Hijacking Prevention – the ability to automatically block injected ads in real-time, which we at Namogoo are temporarily offering at no cost. In addition to boosting conversion rates by between 1.5% and 5%, Customer Hijacking Prevention improves the customer experience by removing distractions and clutter – empowering retailers to boost both sales and customer loyalty.

Planning for the future

Although eCommerce has been on the rise for many years, few would have expected the kind of sudden, 

massive, and necessity-driven sales boom that the past few months have brought to certain types of online retailers, especially supermarkets. Once the medical crisis that spurred this boom passes, it remains to be seen how it will continue affecting the day-to-day life of consumers and businesses. 

But what is clear is that there is tremendous potential for the post-COVID-19 world to look different from what we were accustomed to even six months ago. And for online supermarkets to thrive in tomorrow’s eCommerce environment, they must understand how this crisis is impacting consumers’ perspectives on online shopping.

How can you optimize your online customer journey to maximize sales and customer loyalty following COVID-19? For a closer look at how this crisis is changing the ways consumers approach eCommerce, download Consumer Survey: How is COVID-19 Affecting the Online Grocery Shopping Journey?


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