today started to set out how its online grocery service, set to go live in January, would be different from those of its competitors.
In a presentation released following an investors’ day, Neal Austin, group logistics and supply chain director at Morrisons, which is the last of the UK's big six grocers to offer an online grocery delivery service, said that despite the fact the new service is built on the technology from Ocado, tapping into the online grocer’s “skill, expertise and undoubted world-leading knowledge in this field”, the service would be “distinctively Morrisons from the moment groceries are ordered online to the delivery van and driver who turns up on the doorstep.”
He said the new service would bring together Ocado’s expertise and Morrisons’ emphasis on fresh food. Shoppers, for example, would be the ability to order the exact quantities of fresh meat, fruit and vegetables that they want for home delivery.
Austin said that every year Morrisons’ customers spent about £0.5bn online with other retailers, and that the online food market was expected to reach around £11bn by 2017. “That’s a really clear signal to us that we need to be there,” said Austin. He added: “Our customers are telling us they want us online and quickly,” and concluded, “This offer is unique and it’s Morrisons through and through.” Our view:
Morrisons’ is here addressing a question that it faces as the last of the major supermarkets into the market: why should shoppers who already shop online choose to shop with Morrisons, especially when it is using someone else’s systems to power its new service. The answer that Morrisons offers is that the new service will have an emphasis on freshness, will use cutting edge retail systems and will be a “distinctively” Morrisons customer experience. Whether that’s enough to make a difference for its shoppers remains to be seen. But Austin is right about one thing: Morrisons had to offer this service, and 'now' is better than 'never'.