'Brick vs Click': The rise and rise of online grocery shopping

Today’s grocery shoppers know they aren’t confined to a brick and mortar environment and are revelling in the online options available.

Queuing at the till after a day at the office, or on a busy Saturday is something that a growing number of Brits choose to avoid these days, instead maximising connectivity to bring their shopping to them, either via a collection point where they simply pull-up and have it loaded into their car, or by choosing to have it delivered to their home at a time to suit them.

Waitrose are even looking into automated home-entry options, where grocery deliveries can be made and unpacked (via a smart-lock system) without the home-owner being present. Their 'While You're Away' service has already been successfully trialled by customers in south London last year and Waitrose plan to roll it out further over the next two years.

The shift in consumer mindset from 'brick to click' purchasing has been evident in numerous retail arenas since the late 1990s, but today’s savvy shoppers know that they have more choice than ever about how and when they buy their groceries.

It’s a shift that has seen a downturn in traditional business models like Marks & Spencer, who recently announced their move to close a further 25 of their Simply Food stores nationwide.

Steve Rowe, M&S chief executive, said of the closures: “M&S is changing faster than at any time in my career - substantial changes are happening across the business to our processes, ranges and operations.”

So it's no surprise that M&S have struck a deal with leading online supermarket, Ocado, where selectged M&S products will be available to order via the online retailer from October 2019. It's a savvy move on their part and one that aims to break through the 'brick vs click' issues that have held them back in the past.

An early 2019 survey from Which? has shown that consumer ‘stress points’ are alleviated by online choices and that online shopping is a trend set to increase further. And it's also good news for those supermarkets who choose to use their online data to track consumer trends and plan ahead.

Ocado unsurprisingly is top of the crop when it comes to managing big data and using it to effectively predict the take-up of new product ranges.

Used correctly, online data allows retailers to dive deep into what consumers really want from a grocery shopping experience.

“Millennials continue to be the dominant force in retail as their shopping habits can be a deciding factor in what makes or breaks the success and longevity of retail models,” said Greg Petro, CEO of First Insight.

"Retailers must be able to connect with this generation through the right shopping experiences and unique products if they want to capture the attention of this important generation of shoppers.”