Grocery eCommerce: Trends and Top Performers for 2022


Grocery eCommerce: Trends and Top Performers for 2022


The future of grocery is digital. Revenue growth over the next 5 years is expected to be online. In-store sales will grow at 0.2 percent per year whereas online grocery sales will grow at 4.5 percent. Grocery eCommerce has become the preferred shopping channel for many and this trend will only grow.

The future of grocery is digital. Revenue growth over the next 5 years is expected to be online. In-store sales will grow at 0.2 percent per year whereas online grocery sales will grow at 4.5 percent. Grocery eCommerce has become the preferred shopping channel for many and this trend will only grow.

Read on to uncover leading digital grocery trends and the types of grocery eCommerce software that are enabling market leaders.

Digital Grocery Market Cap in the US

2021 was an unprecedented year for the growth of digital grocery eCommerce in the US. In fact, over half of the US population used a digital grocery service last year, contributing to an estimated $96 billion in total grocery eCommerce revenue.

Seems substantial, right? Well, what if we told you that the total market cap for digital grocery is expected to eclipse $242 billion by 2028? That’s right. The (already sizable) market for grocery ecommerce is expected to more than double over the next seven years, growing at a 14.1% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

Source: Research and Markets

So, what is driving this exponential growth in grocery ecommerce?

Digital Grocery Trends

Though much of the initial adoption of digital grocery services was driven by COVID-19 related factors, many consumers have come to love the convenience of grocery shopping from the comfort of their homes, be it through a delivery service or a curbside pickup option. 

Here are some of the trends that will define the projected growth and adoption of grocery eCommerce this decade.


The digital grocery journey is the shortest it’s ever been. What started as two-day grocery pick-up/delivery promises has now become same-day with guaranteed 30 minute time slots for pickup or same hour delivery.

Convenience is no longer defined by physical grocery store location or accessibility. Today, convenience is defined by a grocery retailer’s ability to provide a seamless online shopping experience and facilitate friction-free pick-up or delivery.

Accelerated Technological Adoption

The grocery sector has seen little modification to the customer experience over recent decades, but the past two years have kickstarted what is sure to be a reinvention of the shopping experience.

In 2018, only 24% of grocery shoppers had used an online shopping service. That number grew to 49% in 2021, and will continue to grow over the next ten years.

Source: Digital Maturity Benchmark Report 2021

Decentralized Grocery

One of the greatest short-term opportunities and long-term threats to conventional grocers is the rise of grocery marketplaces. Online marketplace vendors like Instacart make it possible for consumers to price-compare across multiple vendors and source different products from different places. 

Though this might seem like passive revenue, the threat is that many consumers are now shopping outside of traditional channels and the first-party grocery store websites, leaving grocers unable to communicate with these consumers. That’s why grocers need to reinvent their customer experience and draw shoppers back to their owned and operated properties.

Who’s Winning the Grocery eCommerce Race?

The race for the grocery eCommerce podium has been fiercely competitive over recent years, with three major grocery players and one digital incumbent fighting for their right to the throne. The four names in the mix? Walmart, Amazon, Kroger, and Instacart. Here’s each player’s stat sheet:

1. Walmart

If we were drafting this summary in 2018, it wouldn’t be Walmart standing atop of this list. In fact, Walmart only overtook Amazon as the leader of US digital grocery sales in 2019. Last year, Walmart retained an impressive 28.9% of the online grocery market.

Walmart will continue to be a tough market incumbent to displace due to their 5,000+ retail locations across the United States and their plans to open numerous micro-fulfilment centers to continue to accommodate growing digital demand, head on. 

2. Amazon

Trailing in the not-so-distant second seed is Amazon with a 23.8% market cap last year. Amazon is also unique in the grocery eCommerce race as they are the only digitally native retailer among the top five competitors. 

Though Amazon may have the technical edge over other market competitors, they are limited in reach due to their much smaller retail network, comprised of 500 Whole Foods locations and 18 Amazon Fresh locations.

3. Kroger

Kroger is a more distant competitor than the two aforementioned solutions. Though Kroger was among the first movers in the digital grocery space, they currently own around 12% of the market, placing them in a somewhat distant third. In order to increase competitiveness, Kroger has been investing heavily in the development of AI-powered fulfillment facilities. 

4. Instacart

Unlike its predecessors, Instacart is not a native grocery retailer. This eCommerce platform creates a marketplace for shoppers so that they can access products from numerous stores and have them all delivered right to their front door.

Though Instacart has only captured 3% of the total market for eCommerce, this grocery disruptor has claimed 21.5% of the grocery revenue for the retailers that it services (Costco, Aldi, etc), making it a strong competitor in the eCommerce race. 

Instacart is both beneficial and problematic to retail grocers as it creates a new channel of revenue albeit at a steep cost. It also pulls shoppers away from branded experiences with retail grocers, as all of their shopping is done on the Instacart platform.

Beyond the top four lie Target and Albertsons, nearly tied for fifth place. Beyond that? Most other big box competitors and retail grocers have a lot of work to do to earn their share of digital wallet and compete with the leading click and collect providers in the country.

Grocery eCommerce Software: The Leading Differentiator

One of the greatest differentiators for grocers that are not digitally native is the tech stack that they are using to facilitate grocery eCommerce. Carefully curating the right grocery eCommerce software can be the difference between rapidly climbing the ranks in the eCommerce race or turning your eCommerce initiative into a massive cost bucket.

Here are the leading grocery eCommerce solutions grocers need to win the race.

1. A White-Label Web/Mobile Platform

The first piece of the eCommerce puzzle is building a digital storefront that is tailored to your brand. In order to do that, you need a white-label provider that can help you create your brand online and provide you with all of the eCommerce functionality you need to deliver a completely virtual shopping experience to your customers. 

Features to look for include:

  • Configurable themes, informed by leading grocery UX research
  • Platforms designed for desktop, tablet, and mobile responsive experiences
  • Rich and flexible content options

Explore Mercatus’s white-label web and mobile platform!

2. In-Platform Advertising

Coupons, flyers, loyalty programs, and in-platform advertising are powerful revenue generators and retention drivers. Grocers need a grocery ecommerce platform that enables them to create deeply personalized shopping experiences.

Features to look for include:

  • Geo-specific catalogs
  • Promoted, shoppable recipes
  • Personalized product displays
  • Promotion-based merchandising

Source: Mercatus

3. Fulfillment Technology

Offering pick-up and delivery services under your brand is one thing, but executing it effectively is another challenge altogether. 

You need a fulfillment technology that allows you to easily manage, track, and fulfill orders. Key features include: a means to scan or add products to orders with ease, mobile device compatibility, automated reporting, real-time order tracking, customer communication and more.

See how Mercatus’s Picker App and suite of integrations make it possible to deliver industry-leading fulfillment services through an integrated grocery ecommerce experience!

Final Thoughts

The grocery eCommerce race is becoming fiercely competitive. New entrants are squaring off against conventional brick-and-mortar retailers, and marketplace vendors are working hard steal your existing customers.

Grocery retailers need to adopt first-party friendly grocery eCommerce technology if they want to retain online customers in the coming years. And, above all else, grocers MUST ensure that they are providing a superior customer experience. The future of grocery is friction-free, and whoever can provide that shopping experience will sit atop this list in ten years time.

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