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UK shoppers among the most likely to buy groceries online: Kantar Worldpanel

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In 2016, UK shoppers turned online to buy more of their groceries, used the internet more frequently to buy fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), and spent more when they did so, new analysis suggests.

Kantar Worldpanel’s quarterly FMCG E-commerce Index found that 7.3% of UK grocery sales took place online during the year, up from 6.7% a year earlier. That puts British shoppers second only to South Koreans in the proportion of groceries they buy online.

UK shoppers spent an average of $83.40 when they shopped online: four times as much as offline shops, and the largest spend in the world. Kantar suggests the higher online spend comes as British shoppers go online with a mission to stock up – and because retailers have minimum spends.

The study also found that UK shoppers bought FMCG goods online more often more often than any other nationality, at an an average of 15.4 times a year, and up from 14.1 in 2015.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight, Kantar Worldpanel UK, said: “Less than one third of UK households currently buy their groceries online, suggesting there is still significant headroom for ecommerce to grow from 2016’s 7.3% market share. The biggest increases in uptake are seen from slightly older shoppers; a combination of families retaining the habit even as their children grow up, and more mature households now feeling confident to take the digital shopping plunge. The biggest challenge remains resolving the tension between what connected consumers want and how retailers can deliver this profitably.”

Around the world, online sales of FMCG goods grew by 26%, to contribute to 35% of global growth in the sector, Kantar found: it says that in 2016, global FMCG online sales grew by 26%, with ecommerce contributing to 35% of global FMCG growth.

Kantar Worldpanel identifies three key ecommerce markets: advanced, mature and emerging. South Korea leads the advanced market, where almost 70% of the population is shopping online more than once per month. The UK, France, USA, Mainland China and Taiwan sit within the mature market where online is reaching more than 25% of the population.

The emerging market covers regions such as parts of Latin America, where ecommerce’s share remains small with less than 10% of the population shopping online. However, Kantar says this should grow as connectivity improves and a new group of consumers have access to online shopping for the first time.

The proportion of the population that has purchased FMCG goods online at least once per year is steadily increasing across the globe, aside from Argentina.

Kantar found that the growth of online sales of FMCG goods was fastest in Asia’s most mature markets, growing by 53% in China, and by 41% in South Korea.

In Europe, the countries with the strongest sales growth were Spain and Portugal, up +29% and +24% respectively, with the biggest ecommerce markets, the UK and France, growing by 8%.

Eric Batty, global ecommerce business development director at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “Ecommerce accounts for 4.6 % of the FMCG market globally but represents 35% of the growth — eight times its weight in the market. Ecommerce may only reach a small proportion of grocery shoppers but it’s no surprise that manufacturers are investing considerably in this channel – many of them creating dedicated teams to build their online strategies – because it represents the main accelerator to their future growth.”

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