Saturday, 18 May 2013
are they off their trolleys?
Like many, we get the main grocery shopping delivered, using one of those online systems. If we miss a couple of weeks they sometimes send us a polite reminder with a small gift like free delivery. One of the companies already offers free delivery anyway, but their web-site isn't as easy to use.
There also seems to be a race by the remaining 'non-players' among the big supermarkets to get into the game, such as an announcement by another chain that it is starting a service.
Given that this new entrant has also made its stores attractive (at least around our way), then this all seems to be a slightly awkward business model - build friendly stores but then get people to shop online.
First the town centre empty, then the reduction of shopping malls and then the decline of individual stores?
Artist Lori Nix has been working up this theme, and has a series of very compelling dioramas illustrating some of these effects, although I can't help thinking that at least in the USA, the reality is already catching up.
Tesco now has 5 dark stores in the UK (just for online) and apparently the biggest online market share, Ocado is on-line only - popular but with apparently small market share (although a lot of vans around our way), Asda claims a third of the market and then Sainsburys with around a fifth of the market. It's supposed to double in size over the next five years, to around £11bn, which would be around 7 per cent of the £156bn supermarket shopping turnover in the UK.
It's already noticeable that if I go into one of the big stores around our way I now have to dodge the extra large carts used by the staff shoppers operating on behalf of online customers.
So a few days ago I witnessed an interesting exchange in store, which I paraphrase:
Shopper to staff member : "Hello, here's my list. I don't suppose you could run around and get this for me?"
Staff member to shopper : "Er, no, we don't do that."
...perhaps a portent?