How do grocery order websites find customers

Types of buyer: who buys groceries on the internet?

The market share of the online grocery trade is still around one percent in this country. The hopes for growth are high. Which types of buyers can you build on? Retail expert Matthias Schu keeps an eye on the various groups and explains their motives.

Share this article E-food, i.e. the sale of food over the Internet, is experiencing a new hype in Europe as one of the last bastions in e-commerce, where there is still great market potential to be raised. Due to the high demands on logistics, goods handling and delivery, such as maintaining the cold chain, only a few players have dared to approach the topic of food online so far. Consumer skepticism also seemed to be great in many European countries, especially in Germany. But since Picnic started in Germany at the latest, this skepticism seems to evaporate more and more.

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6 buyer groups for online groceries

E-food has long been one of the fastest growing areas in e-commerce in Germany. Interest in food has also flared up again on the investor side. For example, KinnevikAB acquired 38 percent of the Scandinavian e-food provider MatHem, which is also known as the Ocado of the North, for EUR 86 million, and has just increased this stake.

But who are the customers who are behind this trend and who are driving it forward through their purchasing decisions?

Looking at the market, 6 groups can be identified, which are briefly characterized in the following.

About Matthias Schu

© Matthias Schu

Matthias Schu has been working in e-commerce, digital business, project management and consulting since 2011, with a focus on internationalization in online trading and e-food. After various positions in e-commerce and retail, including at coop @ home, he works as a project manager at the Swiss omnichannel retailer Interdiscount. In addition, Matthias works privately as a book author ("Online Growth Options for Retailers") and keynote speaker and shares his knowledge in various specialist committees, such as the specialist group E-Commerce from GS1Switzerland.

The DINKS - double earners, job-stressed and little time

The DINKs represent the classic segment of food buyers on the Internet: Double income, no kids. They are mostly technology savvy, have a high career and leisure orientation, are childless and double earners.

Due to their tight time budget, convenience and simplicity are of great importance to them. In particular, repetitive activities such as weekly shopping are more of a burden for them that needs to be reduced - spending a Saturday morning in a full supermarket is unimaginable for them. Especially since this would also be at the expense of the tight leisure budget; They don't want to waste their time on trivialities.

For the corresponding service, they are ready to compensate for the added value generated by the retailer in monetary terms, for example through higher delivery fees for slots in the evening hours. In particular, simple and fast ordering processes, e.g. on mobile devices with apps or mobile-optimized websites, generate added value for this target group. Likewise, the most flexible possible selection of delivery slots with short time windows. Despite the tight time budget, the topic of enjoyment is also in the foreground alongside convenience and simplicity. Therefore, DINKS are also available for additional offers such as cooking boxes and recipe suggestions. Picnic's entry into the cooker box market in the Netherlands in February shows that this can also be combined well from a supplier's point of view.

Families - greater flexibility in delivery times, more price-sensitive and larger shopping baskets

Another target group predestined for buying groceries on the Internet are families. They are particularly characterized by the fact that the average shopping cart is usually larger than that of singles or couples, which means that minimum order value thresholds can easily be reached.

Larger shopping baskets are particularly interesting from a vendor's point of view, as the generally high fixed costs for picking and delivery are spread over more items and are therefore lower per item delivered.

The main argument in favor of ordering groceries for this target group is also convenience. However, for families it is less about the issue of time and more about transporting the big shopping cart home. Especially if it contains bulky or heavy items such as pampers, toilet paper or the 6x1.5l pet mineral water.

Families are usually characterized by the fact that they are more flexible with regard to the choice of delivery slot than, for example, the DINKS. The use of less busy slots in the middle of the day is also an option that can be of interest to families, in conjunction with a price discount. A characteristic of families also resonates here: They are usually more price-sensitive.

Seniors - an often forgotten target group in e-commerce

Seniors are a target group that is often not the top priority for e-commerce, but also has potential for food on the Internet. The best ager or silver surfer generation is getting older, but is also familiar with the Internet and online shopping and often has high purchasing power. With the appropriate convenience orientation, this combination creates the possibility of relocating weekly shopping to the Internet and bringing it to the front door or to have it delivered straight to the refrigerator.

With this target group, the e-food provider has the opportunity to act as a solution provider and to fundamentally simplify the problem of "home transport of the weekly shopping", which becomes a real challenge in old age with increasing physical ailments and immobility, especially for childless people. For better handling, factors such as simplicity and clarity in the ordering process as well as uncomplicated delivery are also mandatory for this target group.
A full supermarket range with freshness and a lower minimum order value can also be a way of retaining the senior citizens as a target group over the long term.

Gourmets - specific preferences that stationary food retailers cannot cater to

The gourmets belong to a target group that aims less for the complete weekly shopping than for specialties / rarities and delicacies that the local stationary trade cannot offer them or only with a very long lead time and special orders. Ordering food or wine on the Internet offers gourmets the opportunity to satisfy their specific preferences. Online food shops specializing in delicacies were therefore among the early adopters of e-food in addition to the first shops for weekly shopping. In doing so, they primarily exploited the main characteristic of gourmets: this target group is less price-sensitive and willing to reward the procurement of their delicacies accordingly, which can reduce the pressure on margins for the retailer.

However, gourmets tend to do less of the classic weekly shopping online; Their shopping baskets are therefore rather small in terms of the number of products they contain, but high in terms of the value of the goods.

Daycare centers and crèches - the trend towards more care is also leading to delivery potential in e-food

For day nurseries and all-day daycare centers in particular, ordering groceries on the Internet is a simple way of meeting their breakfast and lunch needs - delivery is then almost fresh and free of charge. This leaves the carers more time for their actual tasks - looking after the protégés.

From a retailer's point of view, the delivery of daycare centers has the charm that regular order volumes are generated and the shopping baskets also have a respectable order value compared to a two-person household.

SMEs - too small for wholesaling, but a market segment with potential

The last group of buyers are SMEs. Small and medium-sized companies such as law firms, agencies or even medical practices are also increasingly using food delivery services to cover their office needs.

The focus is on regularly recurring orders, such as coffee, milk, sugar, biscuits or even water. For supplies through B2B wholesale structures, SMEs are not attractive enough due to insufficient purchase quantities. For B2C providers, however, these can represent an attractive addition to the previous customer segment.


From the retailer's point of view, it makes sense to identify your main target groups in advance. What all target groups have in common is a pronounced convenience orientation, which, however, includes various facets. From time savings to avoiding having to carry home the weekly shopping, all forms are conceivable. With product ranges and additional services tailored to the respective target group, retailers can create added value, create long-term customer loyalty and permanently differentiate themselves from the (stationary) competition.

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