Young executives believe online shopping is vital for the future of grocery retailing.
A big majority of young managers in the grocery industry believe retailers who do not have an online shopping presence are losing out to their competitors.
In a survey conducted among IGD's Leading Edge members, 91% of respondents believe retailers without a site will suffer.
Arguments used against a universal online offering were that the market is too small and that only retailers with online, affluent customers, such as Sainsbury and Tesco, would succeed. is the biggest online grocery operation with a turnover of £370m, which is about 1.4% of its total turnover. However, its operating profit is 1% compared with 5.6% for the total UK business. It is also the third most visited online shopping site in the UK, behind Amazon's US and UK sites.
More than half (57%) of the Leading Edge members taking part in the survey had used one online grocery shopping site.
A substantial majority believe the home delivery option will be used mainly for ambient or non-food goods and heavy or bulky items. Consumers want to shop fresh food the conventional way, they say.
So has the money the supermarkets spent on online shopping in recent years been worth it?
Half the respondents think it has, one quarter believe the expense is a waste and the remaining quarter do not know. However, members think consumers' busy lifestyles and time pressures will keep the sector growing as long as retailers do not put up their delivery charges.
Just under half (45%) believe grocers will have to sell a lot of high value, non-food items to make a decent profit from the sites, while one third don't. Some point to a reduced potential for impulse purchases which could inhibit the success of online grocery retailers.
As one member said: "I use home shopping to cut what I spend, and I am saving about £20 a month on offers I don't need, bogofs I won't use and by not straying into the music or clothing sections."
One quarter think recent entrants are more likely to succeed in view of the fact they were able to learn from others' experiences, while 58% don't know.
As one said: "Unless some entrants have taken on board the mistakes made by the current online retailers, I doubt they will make an impact.
"Online shopping has been slow to catch on because of operational and technical problems encountered by those who are willing to try."
Members believe a store picking system is a more economic route to market than specialised depots, particularly for grocery.
"Food retailers should consider strategic partnerships with high value item retailers such as electronics and furniture to use the existing distribution channel for maximum advantage," said one respondent.
Some members believe that if delivery charges were dropped, online shopping would be so successful retailers would be unable to cope.
However, price is not seen as the only barrier. Often, it is a question of logistics for the consumer to get sufficiently organised to order in advance and decide on a suitable delivery time.
Some consumers believe that by the time you have fiddled about with a computer and waited for the delivery, it would have been easier to visit the supermarket in person.
They also think choosing products in store is easier than choosing online because pack recognition goes a long way towards product and brand identification. Browsing is an attractive part of shopping and the internet effectively removes that benefit', say members.
Key factors that will determine the take-up of home shopping, say respondents, are technology ­ order and delivery ­ the comparative costs, brand assurance of the retailer, and trust in payment systems.