Morrisons puts switching feature at heart of online grocery launch

Morrisons will focus on fresh food and customer service when it launches its online grocery service early next year in a bid to differentiate from rivals and persuade shoppers to switch to its offering.

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The supermarket chain has worked closely with its online partner, Ocado, on the service, including a number of features only available on Ocado’s own offering. This includes the ability to import their shopping lists from the sites of Tesco, Asda, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Ocado itself.

“By enabling customers with one click to import their favourites we’ll be bringing switching to the online food market,” said CEO Dalton Philips, speaking at an event to launch the plans in London, according to Reuters.

Customers will also be given one-hour delivery slots and receive a text when the driver is the way that includes their name. The online ordering system will be available on PCs, as well as via a tablet and smartphone app.

Morrisons is making a late entry into the online grocery market, one of the sector’s fastest growing areas. This has dented its 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 firm inked a deal with Ocado in May, investing £216m in a 25-year agreement. It plans to launch the service in Warwickshire and West Yorkshire in January 2014, before rolling it out to London and South Yorkshire by the summer and bringing it to the North West by the end of next year, by which time it will be available to 50 per cent of UK households.

Morrisons is hoping to lure customers with a focus on fresh food, which typically generates more money than other groceries. The supermarket is employing a team to assess products and give them a star rating and offering detailed product information, giving customers more choice in, for example, selecting the type and thickness of cut when ordering meat.

The supermarket is also including packaging that will help prevent damage to delicate items such as bananas and the chance for customers to assess the standard of products on delivery and receive money-off vouchers if they aren’t up to scratch.

Retail analysts IGD said that despite Morrison’s late entry into the online grocery market, it is “optimistic” about the service’s potential.

“Morrisons has developed a proposition that reflects its key strengths. The retailer has also considered how to encourage switching – giving shoppers the chance to import their favourites from other stores simply and painlessly – removing a key barrier. This will be important in a market in which habits for many are engrained and should accelerate progression of the retailer’s multichannel strategy.”

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