With this week marking the inauspicious one-year anniversary of the UK’s first national lockdown, it has naturally given pause for reflection on how the pandemic has changed not just our daily lives, but our industry.
Retail has been fundamentally changed, with huge shifts in purchasing behaviour towards the online and convenience channels. Online grocery now accounts for around 15% of the total grocery market, according to the latest figures from Kantar, up from under 9% this time last year. This share has grown rapidly due to the Covid pandemic and is unlikely to do anything other than continue to grow.
Until now, that’s been dominated by the supermarkets, which have played in this space for a very long time. But over the past year, home delivery from convenience stores has become a hugely important fledging industry. After all, what better way to tap the growth of the online and convenience channels than by offering both?
McColl’s is an example of how rapidly these services are growing. Speaking to The Grocer this week, CEO Jonathan Miller revealed that 400 of its stores will be offering rapid home delivery via Uber Eats by the end of this month. Before the pandemic, it had 12 stores in a trial with Deliveroo. Back then, it was being looked at as an interesting new venture, while now it is seen as an almost essential weapon in a convenience retailer’s armoury.
Miller believes there is plenty of room to grow its offer further – not least because delivery will still only be available from less than a third of its stores after its latest rollout.
He says online sales currently account for 6% of convenience grocery – significantly less than in the overall market. But nevertheless, to have reached 6% already shows how key online is becoming in terms of the convenience sector.
As we deal with in detail in the latest episode of The Convenience Mix podcast – ‘delving into delivery’ – Lumina Intelligence head of insight Blonnie Whist, ConvenienceStore.co.uk editor Aidan Fortune and I discuss how for many convenience retailers, making the move into delivery came about out of the need to feed their community, but is now becoming a highly lucrative incremental sales channel.
We also look at the challenges involved with getting online, the opportunities it presents and the rise of new operators such as Snappy Shopper. We hear first-hand from convenience retailer Amrit Pahal of Nisa Local High Heath, describing his journey into online grocery.
The new episode is available to download here and wherever you get your podcasts.