Online or in-store? How grocery shopping is evolving

Posted: 12:41 PM, May 10, 2018
Updated: 2018-05-11 10:37:15Z


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Matt Williams doesn’t mind making quick trips to the grocery store. On this day, baby in tow, he was “getting some meat and some salad for lunch and dinner.”

He said he loves online shopping, but not for everything.

“Anything I can buy on Amazon, I do — except food,” he said. “There is still something to picking out the actual food you’re buying.”

“One of the things that prevents people from shopping online is that they want to pick out their own fresh items,” said Darren Seifer, Food and Beverage Industry Analyst for The NPD Group.

But could that soon change? New research released in January from Nielsen and Food Marketing Institute predicts that 70 percent of consumers could be buying groceries online in as little as five years.

Just last summer, Amazon announced the company was buying Whole Foods. This year, the online giant wants to expand delivery from Whole Foods Market beyond the current 10 cities where it is available.

“Amazon, famously an online behemoth retailer, is moving into brick-and-mortar,” said Seifer. 

He sees the move as further proof that shoppers want both. They want the chance to shop online and hit the aisles.

“Brick-and-mortar isn’t going anywhere, but the role it’s playing is changing,” said Seifer.

“Brick-and-mortar isn’t going anywhere, but the role it’s playing is changing."

We asked John Cosentino of Cosentino’s if adapting is survival. 

“Absolutley,” he laughed. 

He walked us through one of their newest stores in Overland Park that boasts not just a Starbucks, but gelato, a kombucha bar, and even meal kits. 

The family-owned company will celebrate 70 years in business this year.  

It all started as a fruit stand on Blue Ridge in Kansas City, where one of their stores still stands today.

Cosentino's is celebrating 70 years in business this year. John Cosentino said it all started with a fruit stand on Blue Ridge Boulevard.

“Before my dad passed away, we were getting ready to build this store and he said, ‘build something special,’” Cosentino said.

Cosentino said they have been offering online grocery shopping for about a year.

“I still think now, today, it’s a very small percentage of our sales, but it’s a service,” Cosentino said.

“We have about 1,200 of our stores today that offer some level of online shopping,” said David Smith, president and CEO of Associated Wholesale Grocers. “And they really started getting into that about three and four years ago in a bigger way.”

Associated Wholesale Grocers has about 3,800 supermarkets in their group, and distributes food to grocers in the area, including Cosentino's. 

Mike Floersch owns several Ray’s Apple Markets with his wife in Kansas and Nebraska. He said they aren’t offering online shopping right now.

Some companies are aiming to make their stores more of a “destination” to draw in shoppers. The new Cosentino’s in Overland Park, Kansas, boasts not only a coffee shop and meal kits, but also this kombucha bar.

“I have some younger family members in the business, so they are pushing me. I feel like I am part of the old school, but it’s OK. You’ve got to mix the two,” he said. “I think it boils down to taking care of people. We are almost a social center for our small communities.”

Seifer said right now, only about five percent of consumers' grocery dollars go online. 

“We’re looking to see that triple over the next decade or so,” he said. “I think this is going to happen pretty quickly over the next few years."

“It is a small part of our business today, “ Cosentino said. “If it grows, we’ll grow with it.”