Top 3 Megatrends in the Food Industry – Part 2: The Rise of Online Retail

The world kicked off online shopping on August 11th 1994, with the sale of a Sting CD. Fast forward 23 years later, and web shopping has taken its place in the market with 2.3 trillion USD in sales worldwide in 2017. In the early days, chocolates and flowers were the pioneering ecommerce sectors. Generic products that consumers didn’t need to touch and feel to buy were the first to find success with online sales. As time went on and online models changed, the door was opened for other retail sectors, like food, to join in the online shopping bandwagon.

Currently, standard grocery stores have the upper hand over online ordering because consumers still prefer to hand pick their own fruits and vegetables, there is an understandable hesitation about the quality of the produce when opting for grocery delivery. However, retailers should prepare for change. As the population ages, and a digitally native consumers enter the customer pool, the popularity of online grocery delivery is anticipated to increase.

As automation and online models improve, delivery costs and barriers to adoption will lower. In order to keep up with the competition growers, suppliers, and retailers alike are advised to think forward and offer new and innovative online services.

Smart devices like Alexa are a perfect example of how technology has taken online shopping to the next level. Being able to verbally order groceries and household items has revolutionized the way we shop. Amazon has also taken one-click food shopping to the next level with “Dash Buttons”.



In countries like Germany, big grocery chains such as Rewe and REAL have already adopted online grocery delivery models. They don’t offer the entire assortment that’s available in the store, but the choices are extensive and the websites are easy to maneuver. As added incentive, they offer flexible and sometimes free delivery options depending on the time and day you want your food delivered. Doug Stephens, a retail expert explains, “The challenge 10 years ago was convincing people to buy online; now the challenge is getting products to consumers in a window of time that they deem acceptable.”

The food industry has everything to gain from the new food shopping trends. As online shopping grows, so will data on purchasing behavior. Food companies will have better insights into customer trends, and will be able to better meet their needs accordingly. The seed of online retail has been planted and the roots have taken hold. We have the unique opportunity to watch this phenomenon grow and produce a variety of new revenue for the food industry.


Read Part 3