CHICAGO — H-E-B has emerged as the nation’s top e-commerce grocery retailer in the inaugural dunnhumby eCommerce Retailer Preference Index (RPI).
The index is the product of what dunnhumby described as “a consumer-survey-informed statistical model that predicts how retailers execute on the customer needs that matter most for driving e-commerce performance and emotional bonds with online shoppers.”
A number of factors pushed San Antonio-based H-E-B to the top of the index, according to dunnhumby, which said the high level of the retailer’s emotional connection with customers is reflected in the 27% increase in online grocery spending during the pandemic, giving H-E-B “the highest share of wallet online” among the nation’s food retailers.
H-E-B operates more than 420 stores in Texas and Mexico. Texans hailed H-E-B as a steady presence amid the fear and chaos of the coronavirus pandemic, and marveled at the support it managed to provide to its customers, employees, partners and communities. In the pandemic’s early days, H-E-B launched Texans Helping Texans, a community-outreach initiative “guided by digital innovation, compassionate philanthropy, and the generous spirit and strength that brings together all Texans during uncertain times.”
H-E-B’s success offers other mid-size and regional retailers a road map on how to succeed online, said Grant Steadman, president of North America for dunnhumby. “Their performance proves that it’s possible to compete and win against Amazon when it comes to grocery e-commerce,” Steadman said. “H-E-B’s e-commerce journey goes back to 2015, when they first started with curbside pickup, and they have since built up a powerful online ecosystem. The combination of a simple and easy-to-use shopping experience with a fantastic emotional connection with customers shows how grocers can thrive in this multichannel landscape.”
Key findings from the study include:
• The pandemic accelerated grocery growth for digital commerce, but it may have just brought the grocery sector closer to its online sales ceiling at a faster rate, rather than raised the height of that ceiling. Rising inflation, a subsiding pandemic and increased consumer mobility are putting the brakes on e-commerce growth.
• All of the eight top-performing retailers enjoy competitive advantages from the scale and size of their e-commerce platforms. Scale and size allows them to have more funds to invest and greater operational efficiencies.
• Retailers that lean more heavily on intermediaries have lower scores for the ease/reliability customer preference driver, higher bounce rates, and fewer pages/visits. In these cases, customer loyalty is with the retailer, not the intermediary. Instacart, Shipt and Door Dash had lower emotional connection than nearly every grocery retailer measured.
• Omnichannel shoppers look very different than brick-and-mortar shoppers, and are more likely to be motivated by caregiving of children and pets.
Omnichannel shoppers, which can be up to 40% of all shoppers, are defined as customers who purchase with a retailer across multiple channels.
Thirty-eight percent of omnichannel shoppers are between the ages of 25 and 54, dunnhumby found, and have at least two children. They buy online two times a month, with three out of every five visits to a retailer grocer occurring online.
On average, the omnichannel shopper spends $531 per month across all the stores they shop and spend $131 per month — 25% of their share of wallet — with a single retailer. In contrast, the brick-and-mortar only shopper is at least 50% of a retailer’s shopping base.
Fifty-seven percent are 55 and older. On average, these consumers spend $382 per month across all the stores they shop and spend $111 per month — 29% of their share of wallet — with a single retailer.