Online grocery shopping is projected to hit $100 billion by 2022. But study after study has shown consumers are reluctant to buy fresh ingredients online, preferring instead to inspect items like produce in-store to ensure quality. But those anti-online shopping sentiments may be fading, according to a new study from The Retail Feedback Group (RFG) (hat tip to Food Navigator).

In its U.S. Online Grocery Shopper Study 2018, released yesterday, RFG found that half of online shoppers plan to grocery shop online more often in the coming year. That’s not too surprising given that $1.2 billion has been poured into grocery tech this year, including big investments in grocery delivery, as well as fulfillment and expanded drive-through pickup options. All of which are geared towards making your online grocery shopping faster and more convenient.

What was interesting to see was how quickly consumer opinions about shopping for fresh food online may be changing. According to RFG, 42 percent of online grocery shoppers bought fresh produce online, which is a 50 percent increase year-over-year. In other categories, 38 percent said they purchased bakery items (a 38 percent y-o-y jump), and 35 percent said they bought meat (a 40 percent y-o-y increase).

These produce shoppers definitely had a better experience than I did. Of course, this could possibly be explained by another finding of the RFG study: consumer satisfaction. RFG found that Amazon shoppers rated their experiences the highest, followed by Walmart shoppers, then Instacart shoppers. Coming in lowest were Supermarket/Food Store shoppers. (I placed my order through Safeway, FWIW).

One coincidental sidenote: Instacart announced today that it is expanding its curbside grocery pickup service nationally, allowing its shoppers to get their bagged groceries without getting out of their car.

RFG survey respondents said that the strengths of online grocery shopping were the time efficiency, the convenience, and the fact that it’s more enjoyable. In-store strengths, they said, were the ability to pre-inspect for quality, the better selection and the feeling that they were more valued as a customer.

All of this is to say that the barriers to online grocery shopping appear to be coming down, and smart retailers better figure out what their delivery and pickup strategies are now, before they are left behind.

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