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The Packer: What motivates digital impulse purchases for produce

8451 SME Profile Headshots 385 X 400 Becky Elredge 2 X 2 X
Becky Eldredge, VP, Commercial Loyalty
Subject Matter Expert

Historically, about 40% of produce sales and unit volume at brick-and-mortar grocery stores have come from impulse buys — purchases shoppers didn’t intend to make when they walked inside those doors.

Yet global tech and marketing innovations have pushed shopping, including impulse purchases, from a traditional in-store retail environment into different online channels — e-commerce, social commerce and mobile commerce.

And grocery categories aren’t equal in their online performance.

“Digital has not necessarily given produce the same bump as it has the center-store,” said Joe Watson, vice president of retail, foodservice and wholesale at International Fresh Produce Association. He introduced the 40% statistic at a conference. “One advantage of shopping online is you know the value of it in the cart, and when you’re at the checkout, you know if you’re $30 over what you planned, and you can take stuff out.”

That’s a key consideration for budget-conscious shoppers feeling the pinch of inflation.

Still, grocery e-commerce dropped in the first part of 2023.

The online grocery market in March posted $8 billion in total sales, down 7.6% compared to last year, according to Brick Meets Click. All three areas of delivery, pickup and ship-to-home declined year-on-year.

“Growth in the second quarter of 2023 will require firing on all cylinders,” Watson said in a March U.S. Market Watch produce report by Anne-Marie Roerink, president of 210 Analytics. “The March report demonstrates that there are pockets of growth when zeroing in on certain meal occasions, commodities, holiday periods, private brands.”

Especially for online grocery shoppers, personalization is key to impulse purchases and increasing that overall basket size, said Becky Eldredge, vice president of commercial, customer media and loyalty at 84.51°, a retail science insights and data company owned by the The Kroger Co., based in Cincinnati.

Eldredge’s studies show that 59% of customers are more likely to purchase a certain brand or shop a certain store if they're receiving personalized content for that brand or for that store compared to those not receiving that personal personalized content.

“We've got the science to help build your basket based on what you've bought in the past. And so, you get in there and it's not as if you're starting from scratch,” Eldredge said about e-commerce. “Rather, we're leveraging that personalization science in order to remember or recall all of the things that you frequently are purchasing. That helps to save you time in building that overall basket.”

This Build Your Cart feature has shown to drive 20% to 40% of incremental sales versus a nonpersonalized experience within the overall basket. Saving shoppers time and reducing their cognitive load is part of the overall value of a shopping experience.

“And we also use that feature to recommend additional items that customers want to consider within their basket as well,” Eldredge said.


8451 SME Profile Headshots 385 X 400 Becky Elredge 2 X 2 X
Becky Eldredge, VP, Commercial Loyalty
Subject Matter Expert
As VP of Commercial Loyalty, Becky Eldredge is responsible for driving accelerated growth for Kroger's industry-leading commercial loyalty portfolio. Since joining 84.51°, formerly dunnhumbyUSA, in 2004, Becky has ...learn more

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