In a world that is increasingly dependent upon technology and convenience, it's no surprise that online ordering is becoming a staple for the American consumer. Although brick-and-mortar locations will always be a viable choice for those who need an item immediately, the convenience and price savings of online shopping often trump the immediacy of a store.
According to a new report from Mintel, almost 70% of Americans shop online at least once a month. When the timeframe is shortened to weekly online shopping experiences, the number still remains near 33%, showcasing the importance of the online marketplace. The report also found that almost half (48%) of shoppers admitted to occasionally increasing the size of their orders so that the total price of the order would exceed a free shipping threshold.
The report is careful to note that "wants" typically trump "needs" when it comes to online shopping, which makes sense. If you need a meal, you aren't likely to wait two days while it is delivered via post. However, for non-essentials or items that are not needed immediately, consumers' desires are more important than what they need. The top three categories for reported purchases (clothing/accessories, electronics, and toys/games) are all items that are purchased occasionally, and not on a regular basis.
The report also found that the number of children under the age of 18 in the household could influence the frequency of purchases and the average purchase size in regards to online orders. Only 23% of shoppers without children at home make weekly online purchases, compared to 40% with one child, 56% with two children and 66% with three or more children. The results are higher than I would have expected, but are sensible considering the convenience offered by online retail outlets.
The food industry is in a unique position when it comes to online ordering. Meal and grocery delivery services are clearly on the rise, but can a food store truly position themselves in the online marketplace as a contender? As more Americans choose to do their shopping online, the answer might be that they have no choice if they wish to keep their doors (err, browser tab?) open.