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It’s no surprise that the popularity of online grocery has been increasing since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, online grocery orders made up approximately 1.5% to 1.7% of food purchased in Canada. By mid-April, this number jumped by 700%!
With the holidays fast approaching, these numbers are projected to continue to climb as more shoppers plan to avoid dashing through the aisles this year. A recent study found that more than two-thirds of the Canadians surveyed were likely to use online grocery this holiday season and 13% said they were highly likely.
The same study found that more than half of the people surveyed plan to spend less on their holiday festivities this year because of limitations on social gatherings.
What does this mean? The way people celebrate the holiday season will look different this year and grocers will need to continue to adapt to ensure they are prepared.
Supplies for Keeping Up with Online Demand
With online grocery projected to increase as we get closer to the holidays, preparing for the higher volume of online purchases is essential. Two key ways to do this are by stocking up on necessary packing supplies and ensuring that process operations are set up to fulfill orders. Motaz Sabri, vice president of grocery, retail and food processing at Bunzl, says that, “as more people begin shopping online, retailers will need to invest in warehouse optimization and their e-commerce capabilities in order to meet demand.” This means that in addition to stocking more packaging for online orders, grocers will need to look at ways to improve picking and packing efficiency to keep up with the holiday volume.
He added that as more people begin shopping online, retailers will need to invest in new, creative ways to manage online orders, home delivery, curbside pickup and learn how to make micro-fulfilment centres work. "While they are busy meeting their customers' new demand, retailers and grocers can rely on Bunzl as their strategic distributor partner to manage their store supply program, with a focus on sustainability to transition packaging before the single-use plastic ban takes effect."
Stock Fan Favourites
Not only has there been a change in the way we purchase food, but there has also been a clear shift in our behaviour when it comes to shopping in general. Respondents of the same survey said they plan to spend less time browsing this holiday season, make fewer spontaneous purchases and are more likely to buy tried and true products. When asked what shoppers plan to eat this holiday season, favourites such as freshly baked foods and soda were at the top of the list. To cater to customer needs, stock products that are known and reliable winners among shoppers, rather than focusing on new, less familiar options.