Online Grocery Mambo #5

Online Grocery Mambo #5

In May of 2017, Instacart released an anonymized subset of its orders database for public use. The primary purpose for releasing the dataset was to provide a substantial set of data people could use to develop new machine learning analyses tools to study the online grocery shopping habits of consumers. While Instacart does state that the dataset is a biased subset of its entire production database, the over three million orders in the dataset still provide a unique look into how people shop for groceries online.

One of the things I have been most curious about for Instacart and other online-only and pack and deliver online grocery providers is basket size. This is one way long-standing online grocers Peapod and Fresh Direct continue to outshine newer entrants into the space. As we can see from Figure 1, the largest number of orders in the dataset has five items in the order. There is also an exceptionally long tail in terms of order size as well, with the occasional outlier ordering over 100 items. However, the mean number of products for all orders in the dataset is 10.1, which is still below the maximum amount of items allowed in express checkout lanes. This suggests Instacart has some catching up to do in terms of basket size. [Figure 1]

On the other hand, Instacart is excelling at providing fresh fruits and vegetables, with bananas taking the top spot as the most ordered item, and the two product categories are the ones from which shoppers most frequently reorder. The company is also doing well with its organic produce sales, with 29% of items sold containing the word organic in the description.

For more discussion on Instacart’s online grocery sales and on the overall U.S. online grocery market, check out Packaged Facts’ Online Grocery Shopping in the U.S.: Food Industry Disruptor Series. The report provides analysis of both traditional and pure-play online grocers competing in the online grocery space, and outlines the important trends driving sales of foods and beverages online.

-- by Norman Deschamps, market research analyst