E-Commerce Companies Have A Big Opportunity To Go After The Specialty Food Business

E-commerce has yet to prove that it can make a serious dent in the $US600 billion a year grocery industry in the U.S., but one promising opportunity is in selling specialty, hard-to-find food and beverage items online.

Only 15% of U.S. adults have purchased general food items online, according to a new survey from Harris Interactive, compiled in the charts below from BI Intelligence. However, 25% said they have gone online to buy specialty food and beverages that are typically hard to find, such as exotic seasonings or ingredients.

This suggests that e-commerce companies can compete against legacy grocers on selection of products.

There is additional evidence in the Harris survey which suggests that consumers feel relatively indifferent to whether they buy specialty food and beverage items in-store or online — a stark contrast to general groceries.

Among U.S. adults, only 57% said they prefer to buy specialty food and beverage items in-person compared to 78% who said so about general groceries.

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