Adding Value to Online Shopping

Adding Value to Online Shopping

July 26, 2017
Retail Industry Insights

By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor

According to a report released earlier this year by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Neilson, online grocery shopping is expected to grow five-fold over the next decade, with American consumers spending close to $100 billion on food-at-home items by 2025. “The Digitally Engaged Food Shopper” report also estimated that more than 70 percent of the population will be ordering food online within 10 years and millennials will be leading the way. 

What isn’t surprising is the prediction that center aisle items such as canned goods, condiments and spices will dominate online purchases.

This news doesn’t necessarily mean doom and gloom for the traditional brick-and-mortar supermarkets, but it definitely signals that retailers must plan to meet the needs of their digital shoppers while expanding and enhancing prepared food offerings, bakeries, produce and fresh meat departments. 

With the shift in the way consumers are shopping you may already be evaluating the methods you are utilizing to educate shoppers on meal planning and nutrition. Here are some possible ways to use your expertise to help your stores compete both online and instore:

For online shoppers:

  • Partner with meat, poultry and seafood commodity groups to suggest simple, seasonal digital recipes or educational meal prep videos.
  • Work with produce merchandisers to develop seasonal weekly produce boxes for pickup or delivery. Include educational information highlighting nutrition benefits, storage tips and suggested recipes.
  • Partner with vendors to create food boxes that meet target audience needs – better-for-you snacks, infant/toddler feeding, gluten-free products, etc.  
  • Tag on-line items with sought after nutrition attributes (gluten free, low sodium, etc.)

For fresh and prepared food departments:

  • Merchandise a dinner recipe in the meat/seafood department with the protein choice in the meat bunker and wing shelving for non-perishable ingredients. Demo the recipe during key meal shopping times to drive sales.
  • Provide virtual tours of fresh departments and provide tips on purchasing – i.e.: selecting the right cuts of meat for grilling, roasting, etc. 
  • Assist your retailer with developing well-balanced meal kits. The dietitians at Coburn’s helped to create kits that are flagged “dietitian’s choice” at
  • Communicate meal bundle options from existing prepared and convenience products in your store for shoppers who don’t have time to cook.

Although food purchasing methods may be shifting, consumers will seek out retailers that help them provide simple, nourishing meals for their families. Dietitians have the skills and knowledge to make shopping and meal planning easy both online and instore.