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Each day TFO Canada publishes a sample of trade news on the Canadian import market along with any new, updated or changed regulations and legislations regarding international trade; countries in which TFO Canada offers services and on the export sectors which it promotes.


Online grocery shopping? Never in Canada!

Monday, August 29, 2016 > 13:02:20

(Canadian Grocer)

Snacks, sweets and packaged goods top the list of groceries Canadian shoppers are buying online

By Maureen Atkinson/Marketing  |  August 24, 2016 

This is the time of the year when the data geeks at J.C. Williams Group get to dive into the numbers from our Canadian E-tail Report semi-annual survey of Canadian online shopping habits. This time, we have included grocery as one of our categories and there is some great information there.

First let’s look at the grocery category. The grocery sector is second only to automotive in terms of size. Generally, grocery is considered immune to online shopping because the customer wants the goods immediately and they want to select the product to ensure freshness and ripeness. Is grocery ready for disruption? There seems to be some indications this is happening in other countries that are more online-mature and where players have popped up to take a run at this category. However, there has been a relatively high failure rate as well.

Our data suggested the Canadian consumer may be more ready to buy groceries online than retailers think. Fifteen per cent of Canadians surveyed for the Canadian E-tail Report said they bought groceries online in the past year. Admittedly, their spend was only a small part of their overall food purchases. But, given the barriers, we find this number interesting and will continue to track it as large Canadian retail companies such as Loblaw invest in online shopping.

So what groceries are Canadian shoppers buying online? Of those who bought groceries online, snacks and sweets (15%) and packaged/canned goods (12%) topped the list. While there are some specialty suppliers servicing Canadians from within the country, we see this as an area where much of the shopping is being done from other countries. One look at a website like Harry and David shows why this is happening. Not only does the product look delicious, but also the packaging (and in some cases the ability to add wine to your selection) entices the shopper. There are many hurdles that need to be overcome before grocery shopping will become more mainstream.

Additionally, the study showed 57% of food shoppers were satisfied with their online shopping experience. While this may sound good, compared to shopping satisfaction with toys and games (81%) and entertainment (books, music) (79%), grocery has a long way to go before it can compete with other categories in the online world.

We think it is only a matter of time before more of the $140.3 billion spent annually at Canadian grocery retailers is going to end up online. Our money is on an evolution of the more specialized areas in grocery that are less price sensitive, so potentially more lucrative. Organics and supplements or products for specialized diets are prime for disruption. Look at Thrive Market that sells well-known brands at up to 50% off online and this will give you an idea of what is coming.

Canadian retailers including Loblaw and Well.ca are working hard to crack this business, so we are looking forward to measuring how this will evolve.

This article first appeared on MarketingMag.ca

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