According to Nielsen & FMI, 70% of consumers will be shopping online with an estimated annual spend of $100 billion by 2022.  As we outlined in Beyond Amazon.com: The Battle for Full Basket Online Grocery, the growth to come will look very different than what we have seen to date.  The majority of the growth in food eCommerce to date has come from consumers purchasing individual items in the beverages, coffee and snacks categories. These items may have been larger sizes (club packs), hard to find flavors, bulky items, or good deals. Future growth will come from consumers who want to replace their entire grocery shopping trip online.

Majority of Growth is in Full Basket Grocery

This growth will come from Full Basket retailers – those having a full assortment and convenient options for delivery or pickup within hours, not days.  And retailers have taken notice.  Full Basket shoppers are the most valuable shoppers – they have the most trips per year and they present the biggest opportunity for up selling & cross selling to higher margin categories.  All the major players have and continue to make major investments to capitalize on this shift.  We have published summaries for each of the leading players along with their current reach: Walmart Online Grocery Pickup, Instacart, Kroger ClickList, and Target/Shipt (we will continue our analysis with Amazon Fresh/PrimeNow, Peapod, and more).

Walmart Online Grocery Pickup Reach Instacart Reach Kroger ClickList Reach Target via Shipt Reach

Food Publishers Become Demand Aggregators for Online Grocery

With this shift to full basket, food publishers have a unique opportunity to provide more convenience and value for their readers while unlocking monetization opportunities created by their roles as demand aggregators.  To unlock this opportunity, publishers need to focus on the consumer journey and help consumers bridge the gaps between discovery/planning, buying, and making of meals.  Some publishers have been early pioneers in this space.  AllRecipes piloted Add to Cart solutions for recipes with different retailers, including Instacart and Amazon Fresh.  While SeriousEats has a pilot with Amazon Prime Now.  Others have tested various capabilities.  Success in this space will unlock revenue sources that are in high demand by retailers and brands alike.  For brands, this includes sponsorship of recipes and ingredients with a direct linkage to purchase.  For retailers, this includes priority placement to drive consumer acquisition, which once obtained, endures.

As publishers look to unlock this opportunity, there are three key things they need to consider:

  1. Consumer utility must be a primary concern.  Providing an experience that is convenient and consistent across retailers is paramount.
  2. Maximize the consumer reach of new solutions.  Given the size of their audiences, publishers need to reach the most online grocery consumers possible.  As evidenced by the reach maps above, the current retail leaders in this space are Walmart Online Grocery Pickup, Instacart, and Kroger ClickList.
  3. Listen to the data. Retailers are interested in keeping these crown jewels for themselves, but it is imperative for publishers to understand the purchase behavior of their visitors both in and outside the recipe.  This will allow publishers to increase impression revenue while providing more personalized and useful capabilities to their readers.