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Online grocery: here to stay in Canada

Clockwise: CPMA’s Ron Lemaire, Walmart Canada’s Carmine Carpino, Save on Foods’ Zack Jones and Giant Tiger’s Marco Chita discussed the Canadian retail landscape during CPMA Fresh Week on April 14.

Shopping for groceries online took a major leap forward during the COVID-19 pandemic, and continued lockdowns in Canada are sealing the deal for many consumers.

A panel of Canadian retailers delivered insights on what to expect going forward as part of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Week on April 14.

“Because of the circumstances, more people are giving it at try,” said Carmine Carpino of Walmart Canada. “And we find that they’re actually very pleasantly surprised with the experience.”

Save on Foods’ Zack Jones agreed.

“We expect that for a majority of consumers, this is here to stay and we only see it continue to grow well into the future,” he said. “We can see that consumers are really starting to trust the fresh produce they get through our e-commerce platform.”

Getting consumers to trust fresh produce online was a big hurdle the pandemic helped people move past, Carpino said.

“Under these circumstances, now, it’s opened a new door and we’re getting a lot of very positive feedback regarding home delivery,” he said.

Retailers needed to focus on what customers were looking for and make it as easy as possible.

“It starts with really listening to the consumer,” said Marco Chita of Giant Tiger. “That’s the most important thing in that shift in consumer behavior. You see what the consumer is doing and pivot toward that.”

And, even though the perception of the online shopper typically is a younger demographic, all ages are joining the trend, Carpino said.

“I’m starting to find that everybody is getting involved in this program,” he said. “Let’s face it, the easier we make it for consumers, age is irrelevant. If it’s easy, they’ll do it.”

Pamela Riemenschneider is the Retail Editor for Blue Book Services.