Ocado would be selling an 18,000-strong range by the end of the year, up from the 9,500 on the site last week, said finance director Jason Gissing. The potential for non-food was huge, he claimed.
“If you buy a DVD player in a shop it takes an hour to go there, park, walk around, ask for advice, and then make a decision. You can do the same thing online in 15 minutes. It’s so much easier and more convenient on the internet,” he said. “For groceries the internet is also far more convenient but the time saving is not as great. This is because a grocery order is 50-60 items and this takes some time. However as technology improves this will become as great as it currently is for some non-food items.”
Selling core groceries was much harder than non-food, he said, which was why Ocado had worked on getting that part of the business right first. Among the range of non-food SKUs listed for the first time are 46 toys, 13 books, and 88 stationery items, including John Lewis branded paper and pens. Christmas cards are also now listed alongside Hallowe’en products.
Shoppers can also now buy from a selection of nine bouquets, priced £7.99 to £11.99, putting Ocado against M&S’s online flower delivery service for the first time. The expanded fresh range includes more lines from the Prince Charles Duchy Collection and Waitrose-branded goods such as fresh gravy and a selection of Waitrose’s Easy meals.
Last week Ocado reported losses of £39.7m for the year to December 2007, but Gissing said he expected Ocado to make a profit before interest and other one-off items of £1m-£2m this financial year.