Increasing Trust In Online Grocery Shopping

2 October 2017 18:46

Increasing Trust In Online Grocery Shopping

Online grocery shopping is an increasing trend. In 2017, 11.6% of Norwegians bought their groceries online, which is twice as much as in 2016, and even more people are thinking about doing so.

Online grocery shopping is an increasing trend. In 2017, 11.6% of Norwegians bought their groceries online, which is twice as much as in 2016 [1], and even more people are thinking about doing so. An online survey based on responses from 60 countries showed that a quarter of the respondents reported buying groceries online, while more than half (55%) were considering doing so in the future [2]. The main problem related to the online purchase of perishable groceries, such as fruits and vegetables, is the perceived risk of receiving products that do not meet the customers’ expectations [3]. 

Through a series of prototypes and evaluation studies conducted in collaboration with NorgesGruppen, we investigated how to increase the trust of customers who buy perishable products online [4]. In total, we developed six different prototypes and conducted studies with 36 participants. Of these, 21 were customers or potential customers of NorgesGruppen, and 15 represented other stakeholders: executive and non-executive employees, designers, developers, a grocery store employee, and a leader of a housing cooperative. All the participants were from the Oslo region. 

We explored the usefulness of several feedback mechanisms as a means of increasing the perceived abilities of the employees who were selecting the groceries. One of the prototypes, called Stream, is a video-based service which allows customers to watch the process of collecting the actual groceries from the store before they are delivered to them. The video is recorded by a small camera that is attached to the employee who is collecting the groceries. The customers are able to look at the different groceries, add comments about them, and request other groceries if the chosen ones are not in keeping with their preferences. The other prototype, called Preference Feedback, lets customers give feedback by leaving comments about perishable products either during the order process or after delivery. 

Preference Feedback
Preference Feedback

The results of our evaluation of the Stream and Preference Feedback prototypes showed that the feedback provided by the customer can be used as a safeguard for improving the outcome of the risk-taking relationship (the delivery of high-quality groceries), thus increasing the customer’s trust and his or her perception of the employee’s ability.

Further, our results show the importance of social risk when buying groceries online. The participants felt uncomfortable rating the person who selected the groceries for them, and they proposed writing comments instead. One prototype explored possibilities of neighbours picking up groceries for each other (Cartpooling).  The participants in our studies felt that they would be bothering others and that their privacy would be exposed This, of course, might be different in other countries and cultures.

Based on our results, we propose the following design guidelines to increase trust in the context of online grocery shopping:

  • Provide detailed information about perishable products. Detailed product information, high-quality product pictures, streaming of the selection process, and information about the expertise of the employees selecting the groceries might compensate for the customer’s inability to touch and smell the product.
  • Allow customers to provide feedback via open-ended questions and comments. Instead of ratings, which are used by services such as Vigo and Amazon Go, we recommend using open-ended questions and comments. This would reduce social risk and provide more valuable information that can be used for future improvements.
  • Design for efficiency. Most customers believe that online shopping can save time. The provision of product details and requests for customer feedback have to be balanced with the need for efficiency, which, in turn, has to be balanced with the importance and sensitivity of the product that the customer is buying.

More details on the studies we conducted and the prototypes we developed can be found in [5].


 [1] Nilesen,  2017. Kvartalsrapport DVH Q2 2017 Forbruker, 10-08-2017, Retrieved from
[2] Nielsen, 2015. The future of grocery. E-commerce, digital, technology and changing shopping preferences around the world, Nielsen Company.
[3] Mortimer, G. et al., 2016. Online grocery shopping: the impact of shopping frequency on perceived risk. In The International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research, Vol 26, No. 2, pp 202-223.
[4] Karahasanovic, A., Holm, K.T. and Nejad, A. Design for Trust - Online Grocery Shopping. In the Proceedings of: International Conference on Interfaces and Human Computer Interaction, IHCI 2017, Lisbon, Portugal, 21 – 23 July 2017. IADIS Press, pp. 239-243
[5] Holm, K.T. and Nejad, A., 2017. Building trust in online grocery shopping, Department of Informatics, University of Oslo, MSc theses, Oslo.