Post-Pandemic Sustainability and Digital Trends Becoming Clearer

Incisiv and Wynshop leaders tell Progressive Grocer that actions are speaking loudly
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
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Grocery Doppio chart
(Image source:  Incisiv and Wynshop's "January 2023: State of Digital Grocery Performance Scorecard")

As trend watching goes, there comes a time when a movement shifts from hyperbole to action. According to new research from Incisiv and Wynshop, two trends are at that point.

One is sustainability, long a buzzed-about topic with frequent longer-term goals. According to the "January 2023: State of Digital Grocery Performance Scorecard" released by Incisiv and Wynshop via Grocery Doppio, 76% of grocers regard sustainability as a C-level issue and 43% will appoint a senior executive to lead their sustainability efforts this year.

[Read more: "How Consumers Are Driving Packaging Changes"]

Those findings support the notion that the proverbial rubber is meeting the road when it comes to environmentally responsible actions, according to Gaurav Pant, chief insights officer of both Incisiv and Grocery Doppio. “I think firms have been greenwashing for a period of time. The reality is that while sustainability has been at the top of the agenda, it hasn’t moved forward as much as we’d like,” Pant told Progressive Grocer, adding that things may be changing this year with a greater focus on energy and power efficiencies, waste reduction commitments and pressures from investors. “To me, it’s getting there. At the same time, I think the only way it happens is when you have an executive sponsor of sustainability.”

As sustainability becomes a C-suite priority with more leaders tasked with effecting real change, Pant noted that brands and retailers can heed consumers’ thirst for information, as 73% of shoppers said they want more transparent communication of sustainability characteristics on product packaging and displays. “I think that’s a huge gap, and we are missing the notion of using digital to engage with consumers who care about these capabilities. Communication and storytelling will be critical,” he pointed out.

In addition to sustainability, the January report from Incisiv and Wynshop showed clearer delineations in the omnichannel. Among other findings, the scorecard affirmed that many third-party providers experienced notable losses in in 2022; in January, grocery sales through third parties fell to $1.9 billion. At the same time, the research reveals that grocery pickup is emerging as an e-comm model, with curbside/pickup rising again to 57.9% of all digital grocery orders in January 2023.

Charlie Kaplan, chief revenue officer for Wynshop, agreed that the online market seems to be settling out following pandemic-era spikes. “The customers we work with and the markets that we generally speak to are about having grocers take more control of their online presence. They are doing that for many reasons – to tell the story of the brand and to control the experience,” he said, adding, “They also can become more digitally aware and analytics-focused by having first-party data. It’s a continued awakening.”

Pant noted that the digital space is an effective way to communicate with consumers about other important issues, including sustainability efforts. “Grocers need to own the digital experience, especially as the experience isn’t just e-commerce,” he said.

More insights from the "State of Digital Grocery Performance Scorecard" are available online.

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