Improving The Online Grocery Shopping Experience


Consumers have been slow to adopt the online channel for grocery shopping in the U.S., and an important reason may be the design of the user interface. This study explores whether changing the e-commerce interface from the common “electronic catalog” format (popularized by Amazon) to a more photorealistic shelf display would facilitate online shopping for consumer packaged goods and stimulate purchase behavior.

Two alternative shopping interfaces (“Shelf Layout” and “Call-Outs”) were created and tested relative to a control condition via a monadic study with a total sample of 960 shoppers (320 per cell).  The primary component of the research was conducted online with 900 shoppers, while an additional 60 shoppers participated in a laboratory study which allowed for eye-tracking of online shopping trips.

Both test conditions led to higher levels of browsing and significantly enhanced perceptions of the shopping experience.  However, there was no direct effect on purchase patterns.

These findings reveal an opportunity to enhance the e-commerce shopping experience for grocery products.  Specifically, the data suggest that changing the interface can positively influence shoppers’ browsing behavior and perceptions.   However, for e-tailers and marketers to leverage this insight to facilitate shopping and create competitive advantage, they will need to experiment further with new interfaces and new forms of product presentation.

Scott Young is the CEO of PRS IN VIVO, the global leader in packaging, shopper and new product research. In addition to advising clients, Scott is a frequent speaker at marketing, insights, and design industry conferences and a guest lecturer at Wharton, Notre Dame, and Northwestern University. Scott is the author of two books: Winning at Retail and Starting with the Shopper. He also writes regularly for industry publications, including Brand Packaging, Quirk’s Marketing Research, and The Design Management Journal. He can be reached at or +44 207 842 4941.

Jonathan Asher is the Executive Vice President of PRS IN VIVO, overseeing the firm’s marketing and development efforts, as well as managing several client relationships. With over 30 years of experience in both marketing research (supplier and client side) and managing brand design firms, Jonathan is adept at illuminating the risk of choosing the wrong designs, as well as the opportunity cost of missing out on the right ones. Jonathan is a frequent speaker and author on marketing and design topics, and can be reached at or +1 201-720-2724.