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Online Food Shopping Becoming A Significant Element Of e-Retail

13 May 2010 - 09:06 by Sarah Collinson

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Consumers in increasing numbers are organising their weekly grocery requirements by safe shopping online, using sites belonging to some of the UK's supermarket heavyweights, such as Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Waitrose, finding food bargains and having their shopping delivered direct to their front door.

It is of course easy to understand why consumers might head online. Convenience is a significant factor, with shopping online for food removing the need to carry heavy bags; invaluable for anyone without their own transport and ever more so as supermarkets gravitate to out of town locations. Similarly, a spot of safe shopping online will almost invariably be preferable to the supermarket marathon for those with small children.

Savings site Moneywise, recognising just how regularly consumers are now turning to the internet for food shopping, has conducted some research into the quality and usability of the online retail sites from each of the supermarket giants.

A number of issues were identified by Moneywise reviewers with regards to each of the main sites. The reviewers found that the Tesco site was difficult to navigate and was overly reliant upon Flash technology. The Waitrose site, in contrast with its John Lewis stablemate, was not regarded as being user friendly, with product information sometimes difficult to find. Sainsbury's offering was regarded as 'best overall', with the standard of customer service being praised, although a limited range of delivery slots was criticised.

Despite significant advances in delivery infrastructure, with firms such as Ocado pioneering timed delivery in an ever increasing set of locations, it seems that there is still room for improvement in both logistics and site design. No doubt the intense competition between the major brands together with a fast growing online consumer base will drive the process forwards.