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Waitrose chief compares e-commerce revolution to emergence of supermarkets

06 September 2012 - 13:08 by Mike Price

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Waitrose managing director, Mark Price, has said that the boom in safe shopping online over the past decade and a half, has helped to revolutionise retail to a degree that had not been experienced since the first supermarkets were developed around six decades ago.

In an interview with the Telegraph, he said that e-commerce was causing retailers to constantly rethink their positions in the market and reassess what it is that they are supposed to offer to consumers.

Mr Price has been involved in retail for 30 years and so has had a perspective which allows him to examine the big picture, taking in some major events and alterations to the market over this period.

Waitrose now rakes in £5 billion annually, from the sales of its products and Mr Price believes that safe shopping online will have an increasingly important role to play in the selling of groceries.

He believes that by 2020, at least six per cent of all grocery sales will be completed via the web, which is twice the current proportion of market share held by e-commerce services.

Meanwhile, his long term predictions suggest that online grocery shopping could eventually account for 20 per cent of the total number of purchases made.

Mr Price admits that grocery's online market share is still relatively small, particularly when compared with other areas of retail, in which the web plays a much larger role.

Indeed, sales made via the internet are increasing every month, despite the gradual contraction of performance on the high street, which is of course, the traditional realm of retailers like Waitrose. Bricks and mortar firms are having to turn to the web in order to seek sustainable growth and shrug off the impact of lower high street footfalls.