According to a recent survey by The NPD Group, 82 per cent of Canadians have made an online purchase in the past six months. While this number may seem surprisingly high at first glance, the reality is e-commerce has become part of our daily lives. Whether it’s the newest gadget from Amazon, a birthday gift from Etsy or a late-night dinner order through Uber Eats, consumers are leveraging technology like never before.
When it comes to e-commerce, the food category is often overlooked. However, Canadians are ordering food online at a higher rate than most other online-shopping categories. The vast majority of food occasions accessed through e-commerce are restaurant meals for delivery, but meal kits and online grocery orders are also on the rise. And with the ongoing rise in mobile-app usage among Canadians, the growth seen in recent years is expected to accelerate.
According to NPD research, 30 per cent of Canadians have made a food purchase online at some point over the last six months. This makes food the second-most-popular online-shopping category based on consumer penetration — second only to apparel/footwear.
The most common starting point for placing an online food order is the brand’s own website (29 per cent), followed by Google searches at 21 per cent. However, recommendations from family and friends are still the most important influencing factor in the decision-making process. Surprisingly, only 11 per cent of respondents said social media was an influencing factor, which is low compared to shoppers in other online categories.
When it comes to demographics, the 18- to 34-year-old cohort is most inclined to order food through e-commerce. In fact, this demographic is responsible for 60 per cent of online orders in the food/foodservice category.
As mobile-app growth continues, mobile devices are becoming more popular with e-commerce shoppers. Devices such as smartphones and tablets are used to place one third of all online-shopping orders (across all categories) and nearly 50 per cent of all food-specific orders. When it comes to e-commerce in general, one in four orders are made using the retailer app compared to 43 per cent of food-specific orders.
It’s important to consider digital delivery represents less than two per cent of all foodservice visits and three per cent of all foodservice dollars. But, in a flat market challenged to find growth, the additional 30-million visits digital delivery brought to the market this past year are a bright spot for the industry.
Written by Robert Carter