Online grocery shopping is here to stay. Here’s why


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Many Americans rely on their phones for everything from catching up with friends to staying on top of the news to streaming videos. And new findings from Acosta, a sales and marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida, reveal the coronavirus crisis has accelerated another phone-savvy trend: buying groceries online.

More than half (51%) of consumers surveyed by Acosta started shopping online for groceries during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 35% are using their smartphones more often to plan and shop for groceries. In fact, 23% who already shop for groceries online intend to do more of it in the coming year.

Buying online means less time shopping

Consumers who embrace online shopping for their groceries tout it to be a convenient (68%), stress-free experience (60%) that’s also fast (56%). More than three in 10 (34%) online spenders cite a wider variety of products, while 29% say it leads to less time shopping.

And while more U.S. consumers are relying on their phones and computers to stock up their fridges and kitchen pantries, they haven’t abandoned stepping foot inside the stores when picking up their orders. Among those surveyed, 27% say they often go inside, 46% say they occasionally do and 26% say they never do.

More than six in 10 (61%) go inside a store to purchase something they forgot online, 60% say they run inside because they prefer to pick up specific items themselves, and 48% go inside to buy things not sold online.

Habit-forming online shopping behaviors

U.S. consumers who shop online for groceries have shown signs of developing habits. They often:

  • Place an order through the retailer’s website (47%)
  • Look for details about a product before buying (37%)
  • Use their order history to make repeat purchases (34%)
  • Save by using digital coupons (33%)
  • Spend several days to build their cart (30%)
  • Order via the retailer’s app (28%)

Customers are most satisfied with their online grocery orders being on time, the ease of building their shopping cart and the accuracy of their orders (all 84%). They also cited:

  • Ease of picking up order (83%)
  • Quality of perishable items (65%)
  • Alternative products offered for unavailable items (59%)
  • Ease of finding digital coupons (58%)
  • Spot-on personalized product recommendations (54%)

Shoppers expanding online grocery purchases in all categories

Across the board, U.S. shoppers are broadening what they’re buying when getting groceries online. With shelf-stable food, they’re purchasing salty snacks (64%), coffee or tea (62%) and condiments (57%) the most. In perimeter categories (aka those items that line the walls of the stores), fresh produce (46%), milk (46%) and packaged cheese (43%) were the most frequently bought items.

The great scarcity scare of the pandemic seemed to have made a mark on consumers, as toilet paper (57%), paper towels (57%) and laundry products (56%) were the top three non-edible products purchased online, while frozen dinners (35%), frozen desserts and ice cream (35%) and frozen breakfast (30%) were ranked highest in the — spoiler alert — frozen foods category.

Beyond groceries, Acosta found that online subscriptions rose in popularity during the pandemic. Data shows that 31% of shoppers have at least one online subscription, and nine in 10 (90%) of those who currently subscribe plan on continuing them next year. The most popular online subscriptions were:

  • Pet care/food: 50%
  • Coffee or tea: 41%
  • Shelf-stable foods: 35%
  • Paper/cleaning supplies: 35%
  • Over-the-counter medications: 35%
  • Shaving products: 35%
  • Meal kits: 34%
  • Beauty/care/cosmetics: 34%

If online subscriptions are creeping up on you and eating into your budget, go through your bank or credit card statements or money management app and see what you can toss out.

With inflation impacting the cost of food, shop with a list and try a cook-with-what-you-have challenge, where you skip a trip to the grocery store for one week. You can also make the most of cashback credit cards, especially ones that feature high-than-average rewards.

Methodology: Acosta fielded online surveys between Sept. 23-29, 2021, using its proprietary shopper community. It surveyed 1,447 primary grocery shoppers and 690 online grocery shoppers.


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18 secret benefits of your Costco membership

18 secret benefits of your Costco membership

If you’re a Costco member you already know how good the savings can be. But you might be missing out on even more perks that can wind up saving you even more. Here are 18 of the best benefits you might not even realize your Costco membership is getting you.

You can buy personal or business checks from Costco at lower cost than at many banks. Costco offers free standard delivery on checks. You can save an average of 50% by using your Costco membership for obtaining checks.

Costco offers comprehensive identity protection and credit monitoring for members. Costco’s monitoring and protection includes regular credit report updates, a multi-layered system of identity restoration services and information monitoring from Complete ID. Members pay $13.99 per month per person and executive members pay $8.99 per month per person.

Few people probably think of Costco when they think of buying or refinancing their home, but Costco members can use the company’s mortgage program through First Choice Loan Services Inc. Check Costco’s Mortgage Services page for information about current rates and Veterans Affairs loans.

Related: How to refinance your mortgage in 8 easy steps

Speaking of homes, Costco also has a home insurance program for members through Ameriprise. Costco members enjoy a discount on both home and auto insurance through the insurer.

Costco members can also see a discount on life insurance if they use their membership to sign up with Protective Life. Protective Life partners with Costco to make it easier and cheaper for Costco members to sign up for life insurance.

Did you realize you could get your dental care through Costco? Many people probably don’t. DeltaCare offers exclusive rates on dental plans for Costco members living in Arizona, California, Florida, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington state.

If you’re a Costco member, you can join the Costco Member Prescription Program to save money on your and your family’s prescriptions. You don’t need to have insurance and can enroll at any Costco Pharmacy. Your pets are even eligible for the program, through which Costco members can receive a Discount Card to use to save money on prescription drugs.

If you are looking for health insurance for your business and not just yourself, you may not realize that your Costco membership can get you discounts. Costco works with Carrier and other companies so members can find business health insurance plans for less.

Make sure vision is included in your business’ health insurance plan and get a discount while you’re at it. Costco works with MESVision to offer an affordable vision plan for businesses. Your employees will be able to make use of Costco Optical, as well as other locations.

Get bottled water delivered to your home or business with your Costco membership. You can select 3- or 5-gallon bottles, add an optional water dispenser, then select your delivery options to see your savings on bottled water delivery. The service starts at $6.49 per bottle for Costco members.

Your Costco membership can help you get cloud based telephone service for your business. Costco works with Intermedia Unite to provide business phone services. Members get special pricing from Intermedia Unite, as well as a free business phone for every user you activate.

Costco partners with Elavon to provide payment processing services for its business members. Whether you run a retail business or a restaurant, Costco members could save an average of $738 per year by using Elavon’s payment processing services.

Do you need logos for your business? Use your Costco membership to get custom logos from Harland Clarke. You can order products featuring your logo, including apparel, bags, cups and mugs, pens and more.

If you need a new car, look no further than your Costco membership. Find savings on autos by browsing new or pre-owned vehicles, motorcycles, powersports and RVs through Costco.

Or maybe you just need to rent a truck for the day. Costco can help there, too. Rent a truck through Budget Truck Rental and use your Costco membership for savings of up to 25%.

Your Costco membership can help you book and save money on your next vacation. Costco offers a travel website with deals on vacation packages, hotels, cruises and rental cars. If you happen to have a Costco executive member card, you can also earn rewards for travel.

Looking for a jolt of adrenaline? Find motorcycles, ATVs, personal watercraft and even snowmobiles through Costco’s auto program.

Get a discount on vehicles you already own. Costco members get a 15% discount off most parts, services and accessories. Use Costco’s website to find participating dealerships and service centers.

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