Beverage sales could help drive e-commerce
- Beverages accounted for about 13% of total online grocery sales in 2018, according to Packaged Facts' U.S. Beverage Market Outlook 2019 report.
- The report evaluated beverage subcategories including bottled and enhanced water, carbonated beverages, energy and sports drinks, juice, coffee, tea, dairy and dairy alternatives. Packaged Facts looked at channel sales for each type of beverage, including online sales.
- Online sales accounted for 3% of total coffee sales, 3% of total tea sales, 2% of sports and energy drinks sales, 2% of carbonated beverage sales and 2% of bottled water sales. For total juice sales, online sales made up 1%, and for dairy and dairy alternatives, online sales were less than 1% of all sales.
Could beverages be the product to convert shoppers to buy online? They're an easy online purchase because they are available in bulk, which lowers the price per unit and makes it more convenient to ship an extra large package versus hauling it from the store. And unlike fresh produce, there is little room for error as customers usually know exactly what they want and exactly what they'll get.
From sports and energy drinks to soda and coffee, online beverage sales are on the upswing. Rakuten Intelligence found that online beverages sales grew 38% from 2016 to 2017, with coffee accounting for 41% of sales. Nutrition drinks and water were the second biggest sellers, but each had less than 10% of the share of sales.
Coffee also takes the top sales spot for Amazon. According to Edge by Ascential, coffee products represented Amazon's most popular food and beverage subcategory in 2018, with online sales totaling more than $140 million. Additionally, the company's sales of energy drinks and ready-to-drink juice grew by 50% last year.
If grocery retailers can use beverages to motivate shoppers to try e-commerce, they should be able to boost online sales overall as shoppers look to add other products to their carts to reach an order minimum.
A recent survey from Morning Consult found that online grocery shopping is used to stock up between store visits. The survey showed that 62% of shoppers buy small amounts online, as needed, while 11% buy groceries online in bulk. About 27% buy a week's worth of groceries when they shop online.
Grocers can attract online beverage sales with special coupons and discounts — from offering an online-only bulk or discount price to waiving delivery fees for online orders that include purchases of beverages. Beverage-focused discounts might not make a huge difference to a shopper's bottom line, but they can offer just enough incentive to drive an online purchase.
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