As the UK online food delivery market continues to grow, some big name businesses are worrying that they're missing out. Amazon finally threw its hat in the ring almost a year ago and now Marks and Spencer (M&S) has announced it's preparing sell groceries online from this autumn.
According to CEO Steve Rowe, online groceries didn't make financial sense for the company in the past, mainly because customers don't spend enough on food to make the service profitable. However, M&S now says it can no longer ignore one of the fastest growing areas of the UK grocery market.
"We continue to review food online carefully," said Rowe, reported by The Guardian. "It has not cost us anything over the last five years by not being online with food. Our customers haven't moved yet, but they will and we need to ensure that we are ready with the right response. There are unanswered questions over what this means for M&S and we have a team looking at this now with a view to undertaking a soft trial in the autumn."
M&S already provides a small food delivery service, offering a small selection of entrees and alcohol online. A wider launch will see it go head-to-head with Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Ocado and Amazon, which are often associated with a "big shop." Although M&S' food business has grown substantially over the last decade, it's used to customers filling small baskets of own-brand speciality goods.
The announcement comes soon after the company announced it will close six stores as part of a wider plan to boost its food business. Over the next five years, 30 stores will close indefinitely and 45 others will be "downsized or replaced" as "Simply Food" shops.