When COVID-19 hit the United States in March 2020, food, drug and mass retailers ramped up their fledgling curbside pickup and delivery businesses at breakneck speed. The virus raced across America, causing total online sales of food and CPG products to skyrocket from $1.2 billion in 2019 to $97.7 billion in 2021. Curbside pickup, the most rapidly growing online segment for these categories, now represents 45% of channels’ e-commerce sales, according to a January 2022 Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Shopping Survey.
Despite such growth, retailers and suppliers reacted so quickly to meet consumer demand that they had little time to test concepts and fine-tune digital marketing strategies. Many impulse-driven CPG categories have suffered, since e-commerce lacks the endcaps, special displays and at-register merchandising that propel in-store, add-on sales.
Now companies are seeking effective ways to grab shoppers’ attention, particularly in impulse-driven segments such as candy, snacks, single-serve beverages, magazines, new products and seasonal goods. Consequently, AI-generated product recommendations are growing increasingly sophisticated and personalized as are banner ads, digital coupons and loyalty program tie-ins. Other strategies include placing free samples in online orders and launching interactive, online cooking forums where shoppers can immediately purchase the products.