Photo courtesy of Asda

How UK retailers are responding to rising demand for online supermarket shopping


The numbers of consumers turning to online shopping during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic was not surprising given lockdowns throughout the UK. However, once the nation fully opened up, it would have been natural for online orders to ebb.

That hasn’t happened.

Asda reported this week that its online grocery sales last year were its highest since June 2020, with a staggering 39 million orders delivered to shoppers. They haven’t waned; in fact, they’ve jumped 8%.

While online is not close to being the dominant method preferred by consumers – in-store still is – it is notable that online now makes up 18% of all of Asda’s grocery sales. There’s no turning back now, even as Asda pours £50m into store upgrades.

“We are investing to build a bigger and better Asda bringing our heritage in value to more customers across the UK,” Michael Gleeson, Asda’s Chief Financial Officer, said. “Our priority remains growing the Asda business for the long-term through diversifying our offering to ensure customers can shop with us when and how it best suits them. Our online business is key part of our omnichannel offering and it is pleasing to see the investments made in price, service and to expand our digital footprint continue to resonate with customers and drive sales.”

Asda says the £3.2bn in online sales were “driven by continued investment in price, quality and innovation” and a further expansions of delivery through Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats. Like other retailers, it also offers express service for those who live close to a supermarket.

In addition to investing online and in stores, Asda also shifted 470 convenience stores from Co-op to Asda Express.

This week, Co-op officials said they are collaborating with Walmart Commerce Technologies to use its online fulfilment technology called Store Assist to “further enhance the convenience retailer’s colleague and customer experience and support quick commerce growth ambitions.” 

Co-op’s goal is to corner a third of QComm market share. More than 80% of Co-op’s customers have access to online and/or delivery services.

“Growing our share of the quick commerce market is our focus through both our own online shop and with strategic partners,” George Hayworth, Co-op Head of Online Development, said. “Our approach is centred on ease, speed and convenience from our local stores, which are well placed in the heart of communities. We are pleased to work closely with Walmart Commerce Technologies to implement the new technology that is easy to use and supports our continued growth, while further enhancing the quick and reliable service that is important to our member-owners and customers, whenever and wherever they choose to shop with us.”



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