Retail

UK online shopping discovers new products

Online retailer Ocado using tools such as Amazon Alexa skill and automatic regulars feature to quicken order times

Speed of service is an increasing focus for online shopping retailers in the UK, to meet growing demand for faster ordering and delivery, and to free up customers’ time to discover new products including more specialised Italian ranges, industry experts say. On-the-go consumers who are looking for ways to quicken and simplify their shopping are turning to the players who are most advanced with innovations to make a retail experience as efficient as possible and to anticipate clients’ needs. Rose Price, Head of Buying at online retailer Ocado, said the firm was always looking for ways to improve speed for customers. It has introduced an Alexa skill service on the Amazon Alexa voice assistant, for checking, editing and keeping track of orders and for discovering recipes. It also offers a ‘regulars’ service which allows customers to choose products that will be added automatically to their orders at certain intervals, quickening an average shop by about 10%. Speed is the new trend, said Price in an interview. That then allows you time as a customer to look for the more interesting products, so once you have your basket of regulars, you can then think to yourself, I would like to try that Italian product out or that Italian recipe I had the other evening in a restaurant.

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Price and products

Price said flexible delivery times were also key for Ocado’s customers, 78% of whom are female, and half are living in households with three or more members. Ocado offers one of the widest ranges, from 5.30am to 11pm. It has 645,000 active customers and saw retail revenue rise 12.4% last year. While they no longer have to worry about refilling their baskets with the essentials, customers can browse a range of Italian branded products on Ocado’s dedicated Ciao Gusto ‘shop in shop’ platform, which it has set up in partnership with the Italia del Gusto food sector consortium. Price said some of the most successful Italian branded products Ocado sold included the frozen vegetarian range from Valsoia, Negroni cured meats and Zonin wine.

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Online shopping sales in Great Britain

Overall online grocery sales in Britain grew by 14.7% in 2016 to reach £9.9 billion, compared to a 1.5% increase in the total grocery market, according to Mintel. The research institute points to same-day delivery as the next evolution in online shopping. It said in a report that while providing a same-day delivery service is challenging, it is increasingly something that shoppers are demanding, with 53% of online grocery shoppers feeling it is important to be able to have orders delivered on the same day. Currently, supermarkets are offering same-day delivery options to various degrees, based on factors such as customer location, when orders are placed, and whether they already have delivery vans in their area. Web sales remain a small part of the British grocery market, making up about a 6% share. Mintel expects the robust growth in online grocery to continue through 2021, but still at that point the total share is set to be less than 10% of the overall market. Store-based players, including Tesco and Sainsbury’s, make up the largest share of the online grocery retailing market in the UK, holding about three quarters. Ocado has about 13%, according to figures from management consulting firm Bain.

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