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E-Commerce: A new platform for food and nutrition professionals


Increasing online food shopping creates opportunities for health professionals to impact nutrition messaging and communications. #RDChat #RealFood

Six years ago, I went on a weekly, chaotic shopping trip with my three kids under the age of four. I navigated a double stroller and full-size cart through the aisles for groceries, frequently reminding my caravan “hands in” so they wouldn’t break jars and eggs. I vividly remember one trip that required three visits to the restrooms and the panic I felt watching the clock, knowing the next time to feed the twins was only minutes away. I tried my hardest to get in and out as quickly as possible, but it always took longer than planned. Back then, online shopping was not widely available in my rural setting, but I would have used it to cut back on those hectic trips. Recently, I tried it for the first time and reached out to my nutrition colleagues to learn about their online shopping experiences. I learned tricks and tips unique to food shopping online, but I also saw an opportunity for health professionals to play a bigger role.

Who Shops Online and for What?

In 2018, the Food Marketing Institute and Nielsen report, predicted that within the next five to seven years as many as 70% of American households will routinely buy packaged goods online. In addition, online grocery purchases could reach $100 billion by 2022, about $850 annually per household.1 Although online shopping is growing, especially for shelf-stable products, trips to the brick-and-mortar supermarkets remain relatively stable.2 Online shoppers have more access to specialty items that may be missing from store shelves, creating more opportunity for smaller brands. Millennials (61%) lead the way followed by Generation X (55%) for reported recent purchases online.1 In addition, those with college degrees, living in urbans areas and parents with children who are strapped for time shop online more frequently.3 Online shoppers tend to research and plan ahead more before shopping by making lists, meal planning and looking up recipes.4 These consumers may be in search of nutritional guidance that is just a click away.

How Nutrition Professionals Can Impact E-Commerce

I asked our team to share their experiences and feedback about online shopping and all agreed we have an opportunity to increase nutrition services, guidance and visibility. Health professionals can play a bigger, more effective role in the digital arena whether they work with a retailer directly or offer shopping assistance through daily practice. As consumers continue to shop across multiple channels, linking nutrition and wellness services in our offices, stores and online are key to building loyal relationships and confidence with clients. Explore these opportunities to connect more with digital consumers:

Simple Ways Health Professionals Can Support Online Shopper

How Retail Dietitians Can Increase Engagement with Digital Shoppers

Regardless of where clients shop, health professionals need to guide and support them along the way. Understand how online shopping impacts their food choices and adapt your counseling approach accordingly. Test and learn which online tools are most helpful to your clients and customize your services. Ultimately, we want to empower clients to establish healthy shopping habits from the aisle to the recliner.

Meet clients where they shop,



Kate Williams, RDN

Nutrition Consultant

Kate received her bachelor’s degree in dietetics from the University of Delaware and completed her dietetic internship at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. She has over ten years of experience in a variety of nutrition-related practice areas including clinical nutrition, weight management counseling, health and wellness and nutrition education. Kate has worked as a nutrition consultant to the Campbell Soup Company since 2005.  

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