While M&S’ food has been booming in recent years – propping up much of its other business – it has been falling behind in the boom in online grocery sales, claims ecommerce delivery expert ParcelHero. With the future of the physical weekly shop very much in doubt as home deliveries take over, online food orders are rapidly growing in importance. But ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT, says M&S’ online offering – largely based around catering for parties and events – seriously lags behind new ultra-convenient convenience deliveries.

Says David: ‘Sainsburys’ new Chop Chop same day/one hour deliveries, Amazon’s Prime Now 1-hour food service, and Morrisons’ expanding Amazon tie-in all point to the future of grocery sales. M&S badly needed to improve its grocery delivery offering.’

Observes David: ‘When Marks & Spencer announced last week plans to seriously ramp up its online groceries delivery service, experts wondered how it could develop the logistics infrastructure to convert its impressive convenience store offering into a same day grocery delivery service. Now we know the answer. It looks highly likely that M&S plans to jump into bed with online grocery providers Ocado.’

And David says the new tie up would make huge sense. ‘Ocado was previously in a long-term relationship with Waitrose; but suffered a messy divorce; and was then sucked into something of an awkward threesome with Morrisons – who started to court Amazon after having launched a relationship with Ocado. At last Ocado might have found the partner of its dreams.’

Says David: ‘M&S doesn’t have the real range of products to supply the entire weekly groceries shop (unless you live on ready meals); but it could offer a superb same day/one hour delivery on ready meals, ready to eat fruit and general treats midweek to top up the “big shop”!’

Explains David: ‘M&S is all about convenience. An M&S App linked to 1-hour deliveries would make a lot of sense. The same day (in fact Sainsbury’s rival Chop Chop is one hour for up to 20 items in 60 minutes) service needs strong infrastructure; but once developed M&S could charge a high fee for a guaranteed one hour grocery service. Ocado offers the capacity to deliver just such a service, on a plate as it were.

Sainsbury’s Chop Chop customers pay £4 for a 1 hour delivery, for example. M&S customer-base is well-heeled and geared around handy ready meals etc, so there might even be an opportunity for a subscription service for regular access to one hour deliveries: just as Amazon Prime Now customers pay for food deliveries in some areas.’

Concludes David: ‘ParcelHero’s recent influential report 2030: The Death of the High Street, predicts large supermarkets will become white elephants with the demise of the weekly food shop. M&S really had to wake up to the e-commerce revolution. Finally, M&S has discovered that for its delivery and logistics service there is a Plan B!’



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