I'm not surprised to see the increased forecast. A high proportion of the food we buy - groceries and prepared meals - are "mission" purchases (vs. discovery purchases) where convenience is a dominant factor and can even trump price for many. Adoption of online food and beverage sales has been relatively slow so far for two reasons: habit (which will wear away) and that many consumers think of online vs. in-store as a binary decision. The data shows (and it makes sense) that the right solution is a mix of both - in-store for the occasions where I want to explore and online when I just need to get it done. Retailers can definitely be doing more to help customers figure this out.
I think the important thing to keep in mind is that lab-grown meat is being experimented with because there is a tangible (and growing) human need to address — food you can feel good about eating (healthier, sustainable, ethical). While the current iterations of plant-based proteins and lab-grown meats don't get very far in meeting these needs in a way that doesn't offend the palate or the wallet, there is still something here to solve. I wouldn't invest in these iterations, but the effort and direction is right.
BOPIS is absolutely an advantage for retailers with physical stores if used effectively. It is faster, lower cost and more private (my family may open a shipment to my home before I get there) but it, most importantly, it addresses my mission-shop needs while still allowing for discovery shopping. When I know what I want to buy, online ordering is great but nothing beats walking the store for sparking ideas for the gifts I haven't figured out yet. When done right, BOPIS allows a retailer to make mission shopping more efficient and get those people and transactions off the retail floor so the store can be set up for and used by those that are in discovery mode. If only more retailers designed their store experiences with this in mind.
Amazon provides easy access to product. That’s what customers want for some purchase occasions but certainly not all. It is not where a customer goes to learn about how to use a product or for services and support for a product or, in most cases, to learn about new products that will best meet their needs. And it is definitely not where you go to connect and share with others with similar interests. There is no question Amazon shrinks the pie for other retailers but there are many ways to add value for consumers beyond access to product. The right answer depends on your category and the type of customer you are targeting but in all cases – you need to offer more than just easy access to product.
Paula raises an interesting question. Is the rate of returns (as a percent of sales) increasing or are returns just going up in lock step with the growth of online sales? Probably a bit of both with the way some retailers have made free returns a feature, but Paula's example highlights that returns have always been a necessary part of DTC sales. They aren't going to go away, but let's not forget that they are still a hassle for most consumers, even if free, and the vast majority of returns are likely legitimate "wrong product for me" scenarios.
Our collective energy should be put into reducing the need for returns (consistent sizing and fit guides, honest product descriptions with use-case guidance) and taking the environmental impact and cost out (packaging reduction, more efficient 3rd party returns agents and resellers).