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Survey shows consumers still need human connection when shopping online

rob fresh castagnetto

A survey from Robinson Fresh BB #:100586 Eden Prairie, MN, shows that online grocery shopping isn’t going away any time soon, and fresh produce needs to claim its stake in the action.

The company conducted the survey this summer and found that seven out of ten shoppers who have been buying produce online in the past few months plan to continue to do so after the pandemic.

“What was a slow growing trend is probably going to stay a while,” said Michael Castagnetto, president of Robinson Fresh, November 3. “From a produce perspective, 54 percent bought produce for the first time” during the pandemic.

More than half of respondents named organic, non-GMO, fair trade, sustainability, environmentally friendly, local, nutrition or country-of-origin as extremely or very important.

Castagnetto said information like this shows consumers still want a similar experience and product attributes as when shopping in- store.

However, retailers and marketers have to work harder to promote unexpected purchases online.

“Fresh produce is an emotional experience,” he said. “The shopper doesn’t have a detailed list for something being demo-ed. You lose this in the online experience.”

He said Robinson Fresh works with retailers to present a better online experience through technology, marketing materials and better sourcing.

“How do you, whether you’re in-store, on an app or on the web, give the experience of seeing, smelling, and tasting like it’s in-store?” he asked. “Being able to do this drives spontaneous purchasing that we have in-store.”

Another finding from the survey is that consumers still value the ability to communicate with their shopper during the online ordering and fulfillment process, which shows that consumers aren’t willing to abandon the personal connection with buying their food, Castagnetto said.

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services