Groceries: The latest online shopping vs. in-store shopping research

Do you prefer online shopping or in-store shopping for groceries? That’s what we asked consumers in the United States in this latest online shopping vs. in-store shopping research. What did we find? Here’s what consumers told us.

"Sometimes I prefer to shop online just because I don't want to go out. Other times, I do like to go to the stores because I want to look at the the items."

Many consumers shared Lynzee’s sentiment: It all depends. Both – online and in-person grocery shopping are options for different situations.

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The study

We completed the entire study of 100 respondents through Voxpopme’s community of on-demand consumers in five hours.

We combined quantitative and qualitative questions in the study in the platform, and the platform neatly packaged the results in one dashboard.

online shopping vs. in-store shopping research

As a screener question, we asked:

How often do you grocery shop?

  • Daily (Advances)
  • Weekly (Advances)
  • Monthly  (Advances)
  • I don’t do the grocery shopping

On the quantitative side, we asked:

How do you prefer to grocery shop?

  • Online
  • In-person
  • Both

On the qualitative side, we asked:

  • Why do you prefer to shop online or in-person?
  • What aspects do you consider?
  • What would make your shopping experience online or in-person better?

The results

Here’s a quick highlight reel of responses:

The quant results

Forty-three percent of respondents said they like both – online and in-person grocery shopping. Thirty-nine percent of respondents prefer in-person, and 18 percent prefer online. So what’s the impact on online grocery shopping? In short, some people prefer it, but many more prefer in-person only or a mix of in-person and online.

how do you prefer to grocery shop?

The qual results

Respondents in our video research recorded a quick asynchronous video message for the qual questions – selfie-style, directly from their phones.

The automatic sentiment analysis showed that 42 percent of all statements were positive, with 36 percent neutral and 21 percent negative.

overall sentiment on grocery shopping

Unlike the quant questions – which are self-reported answers – this sentiment analysis pulls from what respondents said in their video responses.

Read next: How Natural Language Processing helps us understand consumers better

The automatic theme explorer and Word Cloud gave me an idea of some of the most mentioned topics.

At times, I also use the Theme Builder and my knowledge of the subject to build and group themes for topics that I consider related.

The analysis

Then I skim through the automatic transcripts and each response.

consumer response on grocery shopping

The case for in-person grocery shopping

Some consumers mentioned they want to look at what they are buying. That especially holds when it comes to fruits or vegetables.

By shopping in-person, you can see what products are available. If they are on the shelf, you can buy them. Not all in-store inventories are updated online when people shop, which can lead to shoppers trying to buy items that aren’t even available.

"I like shopping in-person because I can actually see the stuff that I'm purchasing and feel it and realistically understand whether it's going to be big enough."

The case for online grocery shopping

Convenience and ease of use were mentioned. You can do your grocery shopping from really anywhere and then have it delivered or pick it up.

Shopping online, you don’t have to deal with other people – including those who go to the store sick or don’t know how to use the self-checkout.

"I prefer to shop online because it's definitely much easier. And also to see the cost of what I'm spending before I checkout."

Where to next?

As a next step, you could consider asking your customers specifically about the advantages and disadvantages they see when it comes to online and in-person shopping with your grocery brand. 

Read next: How you can use video surveys for your next project!

What’s a question you’d like to ask consumers?