Elizabeth Regan

Note from the editor

Well that escalated quickly.

In just a few months' time, online grocery demand has reached heights many didn't expect for years down the road. Spurred by stay-at-home orders and consumer sentiment ranging from unease to full-blown panic over the coronavirus, e-commerce sales have soared as millions tried these services for the first time. This, in turn, has driven grocers to invest in their platforms, from revamping front-end tools and promotions to building new fulfillment processes like pickup.

As grocers look at all of the possibilities that lie ahead in e-commerce, they probably feel overwhelmed. This report takes a critical look at some of the strategies and technologies that promise to shape the future of online grocery. It provides a much-needed assessment of micro-fulfillment, which has generated a lot of hype, but requires careful vetting, experts say. It also looks at where pickup and delivery are headed, how retailers are adding value to their apps and websites and much more.

If Amazon buying Whole Foods was the e-commerce shot heard around the world for grocery, then the coronavirus pandemic has been a second, equally piercing blast. The difference is that whereas the 2017 acquisition convinced retailers to come online, the pandemic has forced them to make it a core part of their business.

This report includes several key stories impacting grocery e-commerce, including:

  • 5 e-commerce trends supercharged by the pandemic
  • MFCs promise to revolutionize grocery e-commerce
  • How the pandemic has sped up autonomous grocery delivery
  • The growth of digital marketplaces
  • The evolution of grocery pickup
  • The battle over delivery
  • Grocers' moves to offer online subscriptions

These are just a few of the many trends and topics impacting grocery e-commerce today. We hope you enjoy this deep dive.  

Jeff Wells Senior Editor

Pardon the Disruption: 5 e-commerce trends supercharged by the pandemic

A look at a few developments, from the rise of apps to shifting strategy on fulfillment, that promise to stick around long after the virus has dissipated.

• Published Oct. 5, 2020

MFCs promise to revolutionize grocery e-commerce. That doesn't mean they're right for everyone.

Grocers face unique e-commerce challenges that make deciding whether to automate fulfillment operations a complex choice, experts say.

• Published Oct. 12, 2020

How the pandemic has sped up autonomous grocery delivery

Four tech firms say growing demand and a shifting regulatory environment are accelerating rollouts of drones and driverless vehicles.

• Published Oct. 14, 2020

Can digital marketplaces feed grocery shoppers' growing e-commerce appetite?

Kroger's marketplace could be the first of many new platforms in the coming years, but experts wonder if there's enough consumer demand for an endless-aisles strategy.

• Published Oct. 19, 2020

Grocery pickup is here to stay. Here's how it's evolving

As grocers continue to expand their pickup offerings, emerging technologies promise to solve pain points like labor inefficiency and inventory management.

• Published Oct. 26, 2020

To own or not to own delivery? Grocers reassess the Instacart dilemma.

Third-party e-commerce services pose a challenge for food retailers as they seek to balance their online strategies with efforts to maintain their brands.

• Published Nov. 2, 2020

Grocers look to online subscriptions to lock in digital demand

New programs from the likes of Kroger, Ahold Delhaize and Albertsons can be a defensive move, but experts say companies need to dangle additional perks to get any value out of them.

• Published Nov. 9, 2020

The new era of grocery e-commerce

Online shopping has swept across major retail channels, and now it's landing with full force in grocery. Retailers like Kroger, Walmart and Ahold Delhaize have sunk millions into home delivery and store pickup programs while also experimenting with new formats and forging creative partnerships.

included in this trendline
  • David versus Amazon: Can independent grocers profit off e-commerce?
  • Kroger and Walmart outline digital transformations
  • Farmstead takes a tech-first approach to online grocery
Our Trendlines go deep on the biggest trends. These special reports, produced by our team of award-winning journalists, help business leaders understand how their industries are changing.
Davide Savenije Editor-in-Chief at Industry Dive.