Encouraging mothers to use online grocery shopping can ensure the next generation also adopts the habit, according to a leading e-commerce and multichannel expert.

Tony Stockil, CEO of online retail consultant Javelin Group, said targeting the main shopper in a family is a vital step in building awareness among the consumers of the future, as they can pass on shopping habits.

“You need to reach the driver in the family and this is typically the mum,” he told just-food at the World Retail Congress in Berlin. “The real challenge is getting these mums and locking them in to maintain market share. The singles and the older teenagers are not the target market but they may be in the future.”

He added that targeting younger people can even be counter-productive. “The profitability of e-commerce is driven by size. The average basket is about GBP100 (US$155), compared to GBP17 in-store. If you are picking up orders of GBP25 you are going to lose money.”

However, Stockil said there are other ways in which supermarkets can generate awareness among younger, tech-savvy “digital natives”, such as drawing them in with non-food items. “Having a really good assortment of non-food products allows you to tap into your customer. It’s important to acquire these customers before they are ready to do the weekly shop.”

Stockil also spoke about the high standards that customers expect from an online grocery offering.

“Clearly, [online retailers] need to have a credible offering with a full range, an easy-to-use website and a reliable delivery infrastructure,” he said.

“More than other categories, it’s about convenience, as the product is a given. It’s about accessing the products, enabling the shopper to build a basket easily and having a delivery option that suits them.”