Online grocery shopping comes with a range of barriers and benefits for older consumers. ( Courtesy International Food Information Council Foundation )

U.S. shoppers 50 and older cite high delivery fees, quality issues, wrong orders and the possibility of difficult returns as barriers to using online grocery services.

On the other hand, factors that motivate this group to shop online for food include not having to travel to a store, being able to place an order at any time, and not having to physically get around a store or carry groceries, according to an International Food Information Council Foundation study done in collaboration with the AARP Foundation.

“While the overall number of Americans over 50 who grocery shop online is relatively low, the findings can help us forecast future trends as technology use becomes even more common among older adults and other age groups,” Alexandra Lewin-Zwerdling, vice president of research and partnerships at the foundation, said in a news release.

Among the group of more than 1,000 older consumers surveyed, grocery delivery had been used far more than grocery pickup.

More than 50% said the products they were currently buying or felt comfortable buying online included fresh fruits and vegetables, according to the release.

Overall, factors that could move the needle for 50-plus shoppers include guarantees of personal inspection of the ordered items, coupons specifically for shopping online, loyalty programs, and the ability to view a product label before purchasing, the survey found.

The foundation also noted that older consumers don’t seek out food labels at the same rate of online shoppers overall — 59% compared to 74% — but many still want that information, and a significant portion report difficulty finding it when shopping online.

Among people who shop online and are interested in reading labels, roughly 50% said it is hard to find nutrition facts, ingredient lists and calorie and other information online, while less than 20% made the same statement regarding in-store shopping.

“As grocery shopping and other food purchases move increasingly online, the chasm between older Americans’ desire to know more about their food and their ability to find that information is troubling,” Lewin-Zwerdling said in the release. “This suggests that we could improve the overall health of the older population by thinking more strategically and creatively about how to give them the information they want — and that would help (them) make more healthy choices when selecting foods and beverages to consume.”

 
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