05 August, 2019

This simple hack is a conversion fix for Swedish online grocery retailers.

Erik Wallin
CEO at Northfork

According to Statista, online grocery shopping is the fastest growing purchase channel both in terms of value and growth. In 2018, Mintel reported that UK consumers spent 12.3bn (up 9% from 2017), and this figure is set to reach 13.6bn in 2019 with online grocery shopping accounting for 10% of all grocery shopping.

These figures show that the market for online grocery shopping is growing especially among the 24–34 age category (or the ‘millennials’) where 61% of people in this category were reported to have done some online grocery shopping at least once. The opportunities for retailers in growing categories like these are huge, and there is a need to intensify efforts towards gaining competitive advantage in the crowded online marketplace for grocery retailers. But with that being said, are there any key areas where intensified efforts could offer the best return on investment?

We at Northfork believe that we have found the magic ingredient to make an online retailer stand head and shoulders above the competition through added value and increased customer engagement.

But to be able to correctly understand how best to deliver the most value to customers, it is important to first understand the customers’ journey and experiences as well as where their strongest and most accessible desires lie.

What are the biggest customer trends in online grocery retail?

  • 75% of all UK shoppers tend to do weekly ‘big shops’
  • 40% of 25–34-year-olds regularly shop online
  • 3 in 5 shoppers make more health-focused shopping decisions
  • 7 in 10 shoppers claim that most of the meals they cook are put together from scratch (using raw ingredients)

This means that online grocery shopping trends are moving towards weekly ‘big shops’ with a need for value in bulk buying, online shopping within key age groups, and health-focused shopping decisions leading to meals being cooked from scratch using raw ingredients.

The fact that 70% of UK shoppers claim to cook their meals from scratch is one half of the equation. In the second half, it is important to understand how consumers in this demographic do this in practice, and if there are any trends which could be beneficial for online retailers in the quest for gaining competitive advantage. For this, we turn to Google, the largest search engine on the universe for data.

What do consumers search for when it comes to cooking meals from scratch?

  1. The Spark phase where curiosity about what to cook is at the highest level. Google reports that searches for ‘best recipes’ is up year-on-year. While two-thirds of millennials turn to recipes because they find choosing what to cook the least enjoyable part of the cooking process, this does not hinder an attempt at creativity in the kitchen. Google advises brands to take advantage of this with specific cooking ideas, possibly with ‘hacks’ of existing ideas to “turn the stressful experience into a fun exploration.”
  2. The preparation phase is the next stage where consumers begin actually begin to look for how to actually prepare the dish they have decided on. Google classifies this as how-to content, which describes the cooking process in detail, with added uniqueness in terms of new flavours. Their research showed that 40% of searchers picked a brand featured in a recipe because it added a new flavour to a known dish. Google urges brands to take advantage of this by positioning themselves in the discovery and consideration stages putting a focus on what consumers can do with a certain ingredient or tool.
  3. The cooking phase. The final stage which Google terms as the cooking stage is focused on the search for guidance after the cooking process has begun. This features questions such as “what temperature to bake chicken?”. Key features of this phase include the role of video as 68% of millennials say that they also watch videos while cooking. As this stage progresses, consumers identify condiments that they are in need of, and for brands, this is a potential opportunity for product placement. Google reports that 39% of millennials report making a purchase from inside their kitchens and advises that brands can also think beyond recipes and how-tos and consider ways to promote a fun and social cooking experience.

With both halves of the equation in view, it is important to note that major retailers are looking to break away from the old pattern of monotonous food shopping and entice shoppers with more fun and interactive shopping experiences. This means that a retailer looking to stand out should be able to combine both halves of the equation — the desire of customers to purchase healthy, raw food ingredients, with the provision of recipes and meal plans to help customers not just make purchase decisions but also to enable them to purchase.

The difference a potential customer whose first contact point is a product, and one whose first contact point is a recipe is clear. On a product page, the possibilities for engagement are limited and the only actions available to the viewer are “Add to basket” and “Leave page”. If the customer’s intent is not defined and there are no opportunities for engagement, then the obvious action would be to leave the page and browse other products. The same customer with ill-defined intent on a recipe page would meet more opportunities for interaction, and exposure to many products in use on one page. Furthermore, a purchase-enabled page with all these elements offers customers even fewer reasons to “Leave page” and more reasons to “Add to basket”, ensuring that purchasing opportunities are kept high.

What solution does Northfork offer?

sing Northfork’s powerful, personalised shop-by-recipe platform, retailers are able to entice potential customers away from the competition with a superior, personalised shopping experience with high potential for repeat orders. With multiple products featured on each recipe page, retailers stand to benefit from increased conversion rates as customers find what they are searching for, and increased average order value as they add multiple items per order to their basket.

As the pioneering technology which makes this possible resides within properties owned by the retailers rather than third-party websites, value is retained on the retailer’s websites and customers are able to go from ‘undecided’ to ‘purchased’ in as few clicks as possible.

Further opportunities exist in the possibility to tailor recipe suggestions to individual preferences, taking into account dietary restrictions such as allergies and food intolerances. There are also opportunities for increased revenue sources in the creation of brand promotion campaigns.

Standing out in the competitive online grocery space is certainly a difficult task, but it is not impossible to attract and keep new customers by using simple innovations that customers find useful. Put yourself in the customers shoes — if you were a customer looking for healthy dinner ideas, would you rather open a tab to search, another tab to watch a recipe video and another buy ingredients? Or would you be happy to be able to perform all 3 actions on the page belonging to the first retailer that offers the service?

That’s why we’re here. Northfork is now available in the UK to discuss how to bring our magic growth sauce to your online grocery retail business. Just contact us on +44 20 39 60 74 84 and we would be pleased to help you drive your sales up.


Appnova (2019) How technology is simplifying online grocery shopping https://www.appnova.com/how-technology-is-simplifying-online-grocery-shopping/

Oinium (2019) Opinium retail tracker https://www.opinium.co.uk/opinium-retail-tracker/

Statista (2019) Online grocery shopping in the United Kingdom — statistics and facts https://www.statista.com/topics/3144/online-grocery-shopping-in-the-united-kingdom/

Retail Insights (2019) UK 2018 online grocery spend hits £12.3bn https://www.retail-insight-network.com/news/uk-2018-online-grocery-spend/

Think With Google (2015) Cooking trends among millenials: welcome to the digital kitchen https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/cooking-trends-among-millennials/amp/

About the author

Erik Wallin
CEO at Northfork

Erik is co-founder of Northfork, he has a long experience of the grocery industry within marketing and sales. Before Northfork, Erik founded BagHitch a P2P transportation service.