What Are the Top Online Grocery Pain Points?

It’s been over two years since the start of the pandemic, a span in which many consumers began ordering groceries online for the first time.

Though significant improvements have been made along the way, there are still some lingering pain points.


Several common issues have become more prominent as society returns to normal.

“The pain points for online grocery shopping are increasing dramatically as the e-commerce sales return to normal levels and retailers need to focus on efficiencies,” Phil Lempert, founder of The Supermarket Guru, told The Food Institute.

One of the most prominent pain points customers are experiencing is out of stocks. Lucidworks’s “Shoppers Stay Hungry Online: Groceries on the Internet in 2022” study, found that 58% of respondents say they frequently or at every visit experience unavailable products online.

The labor shortage is also taking its toll.

“The shortage of labor – either store level or third-party delivery services – that is forcing these workers to ‘shop’ multiple orders at once is leading to mistakes and creating dissatisfaction with shoppers,” noted Lempert.

Meanwhile, some consumers are still not buying fresh items, such as produce, online. One reason behind it could be quality dissatisfaction.

“Topline is that these ‘shoppers’ are not trained to pick quality produce or meats,” said Lempert. “Their job’s success is based on speed of picking and delivery – which is diametrically opposed to the desires of the customer.”


The survey revealed that some grocery shoppers are open to substitutions when a product is out-of-stock. Nearly a third say they will stay on the same grocery website or app to look for a substitute if they can’t find the specific item they were originally looking for.

However, not all shoppers are welcoming of substitutions.

“Shoppers become frustrated with the replacements that retailers offer that too often don’t meet the ingredient, nutritional profile or tastes of their original choice,” said Lempert.

Roughly 90% of shoppers shared at least one item that they would never buy a substitute for.


Nearly half of shoppers said they will shop with a different grocery if they can’t find what they need on their preferred app or website. Lucidworks noted that one way to keep customers’ wallets on a website or app is to get preferred products into their carts before inventory dries up by using low-in-stock notifications.

In fact, more than half of respondents said that a low-in-stock notification would influence their purchase decision, and 80% of those shoppers would be more likely to make a purchase if they were alerted when items were low-in-stock.

Additionally, 79% want to be notified when an item they like is back in stock.

For the products that are in stock, online grocers must ensure they can be found. Shoppers expect the search bar to understand what they are seeking, but 11% rarely see recommendations for substitutions and usually end up on a “no results” page.