Independent grocers are seeing huge gains in online sales through the use of ordering and delivery service Mercato.

Recent data from New York-based Mercato shows that the platform is helping food retailers significantly increase online sales, with some more than tripling year-over-year.

Mercato analyzed year-over-year and fourth quarter 2018 sales for retailers on the platform and found there were sharp increases. Increases ranged from 45 to 400%, with additional increases during year-end holidays, despite growing competition from national chains and large online grocery delivery providers.

Examples include natural grocer LifeThyme Natural Market, with a 380% year-over-year increase and 320% growth in Q418 over Q417. The Lobster Place online sales were up 275% Q418 over Q417, and British-themed grocery store Myers of Keswick in Manhattan saw growth of 130% in Q418 over Q417.

Jason Bander, owner of LifeThyme Natural Food Market in New York City, says that Mercato has broadened his store’s reach in the community and contributed to his overall sales increases last year.

“Mercato is helping us to compete with bigger chains opening stores in our community by increasing our reach to shoppers who prefer carefully curated local products and produce and who otherwise would not be able to come into the store,” says Bander. “It would have been impossible for us to achieve this level of online presence and the sales increases we are seeing without Mercato.”

As consumers become more comfortable with online grocery shopping, online grocery sales are expected to reach an estimated $334 billion by 2022.

Higher spending per order is also a driving growth of online grocery shopping. According to a 2018 Brick Meets Click study, online shoppers have increased their weekly online spending from 28 percent to 46 percent of their total grocery spend, with an average order size increase from $62 in 2017 to $69 in 2018. Mercato tops that figure with a weekly average ranging from about $74 to $85 per order.

According to GlobalData, online grocery shoppers are buying mostly staple pantry products (27.5%) and specialist ingredients (20.9%), or ingredients that can be difficult to get in big chain stores. Mercato sees a similar trend on its platform.

“Mercato complements the in-store experience for shoppers – we ensure the stores maintain their brand, oversee their own order fulfillment and leverage our vast delivery network for everything from staples to special ingredients,” says Mercato Co-founder and CEO Bobby Brannigan. “Merchants should continue to see increases of online sales as shoppers learn how easy it is to get home delivery of their groceries within about an hour with Mercato.”