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What Sainsbury’s is doing to make shopping with it more convenient

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Sainsbury’s today set out how it was working to make shopping more convenient through a joined up service that connects both the store and online, as it reported first half results.

Investment in convenient shopping, customer service and a seamless customer experience  are part of a strategy that also includes competitive pricing, new products and categories, improved efficiency and connected services, from financial services to its newly-digital Nectar customer loyalty scheme. The retailer aims to operate as a single retail business, operating both the Sainsbury’s and Argos retail brands. That, it says will save it about £500m over five years.

Customers who shop with Sainsbury’s through its digital channels spend more than three times as much as those who buy online in-store. The retailer says it aims to bring its full digital business into a single app to make it easier for shoppers to buy across all of its brands and services. Already, it says, 10m customers can access all of its online products through a single log-in.

The update came as Sainsbury’s, an Elite retailer in IRUK Top500 research, reported revenue of £15.097bn in the 28 weeks to September 21 2019, down by 0.2% from  £15.13bn the same period last year. Pre-tax profits were 92% down at £9m from £107m a year earlier, after one-off costs of £229m, as a result of factors including store closures and retail restructuring. Supermarket sales fell by 0.7%, while online grocery sales were 7% ahead, and convenience store sales were up by 2%. Like-for-like retail sales were down by 1% in the first half, excluding fuel. 

Chief executive Mike Coupe said: “We have set out our plan to create one multi brand, multichannel business. This will make the combined Sainsbury’s and Argos offer much more accessible for customers and gives us the opportunity to make our business more efficient. We offer great quality at affordable prices with convenient ways to shop. I would like to thank colleagues for all their hard work at this busy time of year. We are very much looking forward to delighting our customers throughout the upcoming festive period.”

Convenient shopping 

Sainsbury’s said that service and availability improved during the year, with customer satisfaction scores up by more than three percentage points, year-on-year. Smart scan technology, that customers use to scan and then pay for their shopping, is now available in more than 350 shops. The retailer also introduced Smart Store technology and says that has helped it to remove about 1,000 in-store tasks, saving a million hours of management time, redirected at helping customers and improving availability.

It says 2.1m customers are now using the Nectar app, launched as Nectar went digital during the half-year in order to promise more personalised offers.

Online grocery sales grew by 7% during the half-year, to account for 8% of grocery sales. 

Sales at sister company and fellow Elite retailer Argos grew ahead of the market while use of its Fast Track delivery (+5%)  and collection (14%) services continued to expand. Most of its stores will be converted to a digital format, enabling shoppers to order goods through in-store screens as well as collect online orders in-store. Pay@Browse – where shoppers pay as they browse online tablets in-store – is now available in 263 Argos stores. Currently there are 288 branches of Argos within Sainsbury’s supermarket.

In shops where its 15% SmartShop self-scanning app is now available, 15% of sales are now made through the app. The retailer says it is also investing in its technology to improve infrastructure, connectivity and hardware. Grocery online page-load speeds, it said, were now 50% faster and processing time was 75% lower than it was two years ago. 

Image courtesy of Sainsbury’s

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