Sir, Ocado CEO Tim Steiner completely understands the impact of technology upon the grocery retail sector (‘Pocket Dynamo’, 19 November).
Your interview highlighted the many back-end technology issues facing supermarkets: online range management and pricing, web planogramming, geographic stock levels, product availability and intelligent substitution selection. These challenges need a real-time approach in an industry that commonly operates archaic overnight batch processing.
Contrast this with the bold assertion to supermarkets: “Search is the most important component of successful e-commerce” (‘Are grocers failing online?’, 29 October). While back-end processes struggle, investing in search marketing is merely fiddling while Rome burns.
SEO and Google Shopping are lifelines to many types of retailer – and there is indeed little point tinkering with navigation, usability and accessibility if nobody visits you online. But the challenges of high-volume fmcg online retail are unique and back-end technology is key, as Steiner points out.
If Ocado’s share price slump is a portent of its imminent death, I doubt it will be because its plums weren’t sufficiently SEO’d.
Jason Finch, director, Port80 Retail Technology