Since launching the payment capability in late February, the natural foods retailer has brought in more than $1 million in EBT revenue.

E-grocer Thrive Market records revenue boost with EBT acceptance

Display of products available for purchase from Thrive Market Courtesy of Thrive Market

E-grocer Thrive Market had to wait for years to get government permission to accept SNAP/EBT payments online, but says it was worth the wait. 

Thrive Market has seen sustained growth “across the board” since it launched online SNAP/EBT acceptance in late February, CEO Nick Green said in an interview. 

Over the past two months since adding the payment option, the e-grocer has brought in more than $1 million in EBT revenue. By comparison, the e-grocer recorded a total annual revenue of over half a billion last year. 

As the first exclusively online grocer to accept SNAP/EBT cards as payment, per the grocer, Thrive has the opportunity to show the value the payment option can have for other e-retailer’s businesses.

Since introducing SNAP and EBT payment acceptance in late February, Thrive has had more than 10,000 EBT orders across the continental U.S., according to Green. The e-grocer has also seen an uptick in applications for its free membership program, Thrive Gives, which EBT cardholders receive automatic approval for. 

“The major priority over this for these first couple of months has been honing the experience, getting feedback, and just learning more about how we can serve these folks more effectively so that we’re ready to kind of turn on the jets and scale,” Green said.

By the numbers   + 10,000 Number of EBT cards added to Thrive since the launch.   70% Percentage of Thrive’s catalog that is SNAP-eligible,   40% Percentage of Thrive Give members are EBT cardholders.

When Thrive debuted in 2015, it petitioned the USDA to open up the SNAP/EBT program to e-grocers, Green said. But even when the USDA expanded online acceptance of the payment option during the COVID-19 pandemic after the initial launch of the SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot in early 2017, Thrive was not eligible because it lacked a brick-and-mortar presence, he said. 

FMI — The Food Industry Association’s President and CEO Leslie Sarasin said in a recent panel that providing convenient incentives for purchasing healthy foods is crucial in supporting SNAP and EBT cardholders.

In April 2023, Giant Food partnered with city officials in Baltimore to launch a program that makes healthy produce more accessible and affordable to residents who use SNAP benefits. Northern California grocer Harvest Market made a similar effort last spring by participating in a program that puts healthy food incentives on a customer’s EBT card.

The inability to use SNAP and EBT as payment for exclusively online grocers presented a “major barrier” when shopping online for groceries, Green said, adding that most people living in the U.S. don’t live within driving distance of health-focused food retailers. This “wouldn’t be as big a deal if healthy, nutritious and good-for-you, better-for-you products were available widely and inexpensively at brick-and-mortar grocery stores,” he said. 

Meanwhile, grocers with brick-and-mortar locations who have been accepting online SNAP payments since as early as the COVID-19 pandemic are focusing on ways to encourage EBT shoppers to purchase more nutritious options.  

Moving forward, Thrive will focus on category analysis, improving the checkout experience and boosting education efforts to encourage shoppers to buy from categories they aren’t as familiar with, Green said, noting these efforts would roll out continuously over the next six months.

  • SNAP emergency allotments ending soon, impacting grocery spending By Catherine Douglas Moran • Feb. 13, 2023
  • Looking back at key SNAP developments in 2023 By Sam Silverstein • Dec. 21, 2023



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