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Growth of online shopping makes supermarket change tactics

08 January 2014 - 10:55 by Mike Price

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A number of major British supermarket chains are having to change the way they operate, to keep up with the demand for shopping online which is being exhibited by consumers, according to the Guardian.

Tesco, Asda and Waitrose are just three of the firms that are creating more of the so-called 'dark stores,' which are effectively warehouse facilities used to fulfil e-commerce orders placed by customers.

These retailers are anticipated to double the amount of floorspace they dedicate to managing online orders, indicating that yet more growth is anticipated in 2014.

At the moment a little under two million square feet of floorspace is occupied by dark stores, but by the end of the year, this will be significantly higher as interest in safe shopping online rises further.

One of the contributors to this significant expansion will be Morrisons, which is finally entering the online grocery market in 2014 and will be launching a pilot scheme in conjunction with Ocado this month, with national rollout anticipated in the first half of the year.

Figures from analyst firm, Verdict, show that while just 5.5 per cent of all grocery shopping was carried out online last year, this proportion rose to 15 per cent over the Christmas period.

Seasonal shifts aside, it is clear that British consumers are getting a taste for buying food online rather than heading to their local supermarket.

Being able to avoid queues and get the same great prices on the web makes the e-commerce experience all the more attractive. In addition, the growing levels of competition mean that major supermarkets are having to get creative in order to win over customers.

Morrisons' arrival on the market this year, coupled with the anticipated growth in the number of dark stores, should make online grocery orders more popular than ever.