The site, which went live today (20 December), lets users browse products and add them to a shopping basket, as well as offering payment and delivery options. However, customers will have to wait until 6 January to get hold of their order, with the first deliveries offered in Warwickshire and West Yorkshire, before London and South Yorkshire go live in mid-2014 and the north west of England before the end of next year.
There is a strong emphasis on Morrisons’ “Market Street” proposition, with the supermarket offering a “refund and replace” guarantee on 513 of its fresh products. This means that if customers aren’t “100 per cent happy” they can get a refund and a voucher for the same amount to spend on their next online shop.
Morrisons has employed a team of specialists to give products star ratings and offer recommendations on when fruit and vegetables are at their best. There is also detailed product information, including storage and use, nutritional data and recipe ideas.
The supermarket is keen to stress its butchery counter, which lets customers choose the type and thickness of cut and recommends products based on budget and how it will be cooked. It also offers serving suggestions, as well as wine recommendations.
Morrisons is making a late entry into the online grocery market, one of the supermarket sector’s fastest growth areas. IGD forecasts that online grocery sales will more than double over the next five years, with spend increasing from £6.5bn this year to nearly £15bn in 2018, while the value of the wider market will increase by a fifth.
The lack of an online offering has dented Morrisons’ profit and market share, with like-for-like sales down 2.4 per cent in the three months to 3 November, the seventh straight quarter of declines. The latest figures from Kantar show that the supermarket’s market share fell to 11.6 per cent in the 12 weeks to 8 December, down from 11.9 per cent in the same period a year ago.
Analysts have said that the focus on fresh food could be a key differentiator for Morrisons, particularly as this area has so far failed to catch on as quickly as others online due to concerns over the quality of goods. Nevertheless, the supermarket faces an uphill struggle in catching up with rivals such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s, both of which have offered online services for a number of years and also have their own loyalty and click and collect offerings.