( Photo by The Packer staff )

Some people interpret the limited adoption of online grocery ordering as a sign that most shoppers simply are not interested in pickup or delivery and probably won’t be in the future either. 

I have a quite different perspective.

A recent Gallup poll said 84% of those surveyed never shop for groceries online. A colleague actually just forwarded me an article about the growth of pickup and delivery — along with the comment, “I can’t believe that anyone would trust someone else picking out their fresh produce items or meat. But I guess it’s a new age!”

My colleague is correct — it is indeed an era of totally different consumer expectations than even 10 years ago. While plenty of people still have reservations about a third party picking out perishables, I expect the convenience factor ultimately will win out for many.

People will still go to grocery stores regularly, but I’d be surprised if pickup and delivery are not services many people eventually take advantage of when they’re particularly short on time.

I get the feeling that many millennials, already used to so much convenience, will want and need convenience more than ever once kids enter the picture.

Gallup noted that adults with children at home are twice at likely as those without children to order groceries online at least monthly. Remember hearing about how millennials — those people who grew up in the age of the Internet, smartphones and two-day shipping — have been putting off having kids? 

I recall how much time my mom spent driving my sisters and me to various activities and what a hassle it was for her to take us around at the grocery store. With that sort of family-oriented hustle and bustle in mind, I get the feeling that many millennials, already used to so much convenience, will want and need convenience more than ever once kids enter the picture. That bodes well for online grocery.

The other reason I expect big growth for pickup and delivery is that retailers are simply pouring resources into developing these services. In my recent travels across the country, I noticed several stores I visited — Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, Kroger and Hy-Vee, to name a few — promoting their delivery services with signage in stores. I actually spotted an Instacart shopper at one location.
 
Retailers aren’t adopting these programs because they’re easy and huge money-makers, of course. The companies see them as must-have offerings. In my view, that’s a smart assessment.

Ashley Nickle is The Packer’s retail editor and editor of Produce Retailer magazine. E-mail her at anickle@farmjournal.com.

 
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