Intra-household task allocation in online grocery shopping: Together alone

/
Ellen Van Droogenbroeck
Leo Van Hove

Abstract

This paper explores how households organize the process of e-grocery buying in a click-and-collect context, down to the level of the two main subtasks: the online ordering and the picking-up. Self-collected survey data on 112 users of Belgian click-and-collect services first provide a quantitative perspective. But we primarily exploit in-depth interviews with 15 households. Both our quantitative and qualitative findings indicate that women today are still the main responsible for grocery shopping, even in an online context. Especially the ordering is a woman's task; the collecting is more equally divided across genders. But the key result is that couples exploit the opportunities for further task division provided by e-grocery shopping. In our survey we find that in 72.5% of the couples both partners are involved in the process, but that in roughly three quarters of these cases at least one of the tasks is performed independently. In other words, many couples do it ‘together alone’. Our qualitative analysis further shows that the roles of the partners have become more fixed, in that subtasks are assigned exclusively to one partner. As for the reasons behind the task allocation, we find indications of the relevance of time availability, relative resource, and gender arguments (respectively, the presence of young children, imbalances in educational status and income, and traditional roles), but also of purely pragmatic reasons.

Van Droogenbroeck, E. and L. Van Hove, Intra-household task allocation in online grocery shopping: together alone, Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, Vol. 56, September 2020, article 102153