More than half of the UK's population (53%) are doing some or all of their grocery shopping online, in strong contrast to only 40% in France and 32% in Germany, according to an online grocery survey from retail customer experience personalisation firm RichRelevance. This article is copyright 2018 The Best Customer Guide.

However, despite the majority of consumers showing a willingness to embrace modern technology and shop online, grocery retailers have failed to take full advantage. The research, which included responses from over 2,000 participants across the United Kingdom, France and Germany, investigated how consumers are using the internet to do their grocery shopping, while also analysing some of the issues and barriers that prevent more people from making the switch from instore to online grocery shopping.

There are no big surprises in the key drivers to why consumers choose to shop online, namely increased convenience (62%) and the ability to save time (59%). However, the research reveals that grocery retailers are failing to take full advantage of new technology to make the online grocery experience more personalised. UK consumers would like to see more features such as 'reminders on frequently bought items' (80%), 'relevant alternatives' (58%) and would also like grocery retailers to tailor products shown based on dietary requirements (43%).

There is also an opportunity for grocery retailers to automate the sales process, with 53% of people indicating that they would be happy for their retailer to automatically re-order frequently bought items, such as toilet roll, laundry detergent and pet food. Further, 55% of consumers would like grocery retailers to offer recipe ideas based on what they are adding to their cart.

Despite just over half (52%) of Britons doing their grocery shopping online, the majority of consumers (97%) are also still buying products in-store. When probed as to why, 51% of consumers said they do not trust retailers to pick the freshest produce on their behalf, with 68% preferring to physically handle items themselves in store.

Henrik Nambord, VP of EMEA Sales at RichRelevance, said "The online grocery market still lags behind other retail sectors, but the opportunity is there for grocery retailers who are willing to invest in getting the online experience right. Automating frequent purchases, tailoring the products shown based on unique preferences and inspiring consumers through features such as recipe ideas are all ways in which retailers can leverage personalisation to turn grocery shopping from a mundane necessity into a worthwhile experience."

In the UK, respondents of the survey wanted to see online grocery retailers offer the following features:

  1. My grocer automatically displays my 'frequently bought / favourite items' so I can easily add them to cart - 80%.
  2. My groceries are delivered to my home in a set time window alongside other home-delivery items - 69%.
  3. If an item I want is not available, the grocer presents me with relevant alternatives - 58%.
  4. When I add an item to my cart, the grocer shows me other relevant items to complete a popular meal or recipe - 55%.
  5. I can set online dietary preferences (low-fat, gluten-free) so that the grocer shows me more relevant products & special offers - 43%.