All of the investments grocery retailers are making into robotic fulfillment, curbside pickup and even self-driving delivery hinge on the idea that shoppers will migrate from their habitual shopping in-store to shopping online. That can be a big ask when talking about a product that people often want to look at and touch before buying.

But the good news for the grocer retailers investing in those technologies is that according to two recent market studies, people are getting more comfortable with and ordering more groceries online.

Yesterday, Grocery Dive reported on a Field Agent survey of 3,342 shoppers. In the survey, 66 percent of respondents said they expect to be buying their groceries online in the next five years. Right now, 97 percent of primary grocery shoppers do so in-store, according to Field Agent, but 52 percent do buy some groceries online and 21 percent are open to the possibility.

The Field Agent survey came a day after NPD Group released its own stats around online grocery grocery. From a press announcement on its findings, NPD wrote:

The percentage of U.S. consumers, ages 18 and above, who shopped online for groceries within a 30-day period, whether for delivery or pick-up in store, increased from 17 percent in the quarter ending November 2018 to 20 percent, or about 51 million consumers, in the quarter ending February 2019…

Both of these stats reinforce a study from Coresight last month that found 36.8 percent of U.S. consumers bought groceries online over the past year, which was a jump up from 23.1 percent in the firm’s 2018 survey. That represents an increase of roughly 35 million more consumers buying groceries online.

With consumer trends showing an increase in online grocery shopping, it looks like the investment retailers are making now in faster fulfillment and logistics should pay off down the road. But in addition to looking at how people will buy their groceries, both Field Agent and NPD Group also looked at where they want to receive them.

The Field Agent survey showed that 38 percent of respondents use curbside pickup, double the 16 percent that use delivery. NPD found that of those shoppers ordering groceries online, 16 percent choose delivery and 11 percent choose to BOPUS (buy online pickup in store — ed. note: cute moniker!).

How consumers pick up grocery will be something to definitely keep an eye on as it could determine where groceries put their investment dollars. Should they explore more self-driving delivery vehicles like Kroger, or focus more on automated curbside pickup like Walmart?

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