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Tesco expands home delivery services to meet surge in demand

UK retailer Tesco has expanded its home delivery and click-and-collect services following a sharp increase in demand that led to shoppers reporting difficulties in securing online delivery slots. The firm’s delivery and collection capacity has risen from 660,000 to around 780,000 in the past two weeks, with plans to increase this by another 100,000 in the coming weeks. Tesco has also added over 200 new vans and recruited another 2,500 drivers and over 5,000 pickers, as part of the delivery expansion.

Last week, Tesco said it was limiting shoppers to only 80 items per online order. Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis said the Covid-19 pandemic has “led to unprecedented levels of demand for grocery shopping services. We’re doing everything we can to increase the number of slots available and to support vulnerable people.”

Meanwhile, online grocer Ocado announced it was recruiting an extra 3,000 staff to work in its logistics division to meet the current surge in demand.

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Japanese supermarket giant Aeon, in online grocery push

AEON organic retail store

AEON organic retail store

Credit: Aeon

 

 

Aeon is partnering with British online grocery pioneer Ocado to launch a new company by March 2020 that will use AI and robotics to deliver a cutting-edge digital experience. Also, as a sustainability initiative, Aeon has set up a platform to help boost organic farming in Japan, where demand is outstripping supply of organic food.

 

Fresh food delivery has yet to truly take off among the Japanese, who largely still pick up fresh produce on a daily basis. But with better logistic networks and different demographics – such as more dual-income households and senior citizens – that’s forecast to change. And with AmazonFresh already in Tokyo, and Walmart (owner of Aeon rival Seiyu) beefing up its online grocery delivery together with Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, it’s no surprise that supermarket Aeon is also making the leap. In a statement in November, Aeon said it will leverage Ocado’s world leading know-how to launch and operate “the next generation online supermarket.” It plans to open its first customer fulfilment centre harnessing the Ocado Smart Platform by 2023 to serve Japan’s Kanto region, followed by others over the following two years in order to eventually serve the whole country. And it anticipates achieving online grocery sales of about 600 billion yen (about €4.92b) by 2030. “Aeon will realise a highly efficient operations and distribution system to deliver ‘anytime, anywhere, anything’ through a superb application interface to meet our customer needs. It is expected that these technologies can be utilised for the existing Aeon online supermarket business, store pick up, click & collect,” the company said in a press release. Aeon also plans to seek more partners both in Japan and around the world in order to be at the forefront of the digital era. Ocado, it should be mentioned, has also been chosen as a partner by other major supermarket groups around the world, including Kroger in the US, Casino in France, Marks & Spencer in the UK, ICA in Sweden and Coles in Australia.

Produce from farms run by Aeon Agri Create // Credit: Aeon

 

A platform to boost organic production 

Two other key initiatives from Aeon are in the area of organic food. Back in 2017, among the sustainable procurement goals the group set itself was that of boosting the sales ratio of organic products to 5% of all its agricultural products by 2020, also when Tokyo will host the summer Olympics. Aeon says it wants to contribute to “human, social and environmental health” through organic products, furthermore ones that are “cultivated, distributed and consumed naturally.” It also says it is “responding to our customer demands for safer, better tasting, and environmentally friendly food products.” However, while interest in organic produce is on the rise in Japan, “supply of organic products has not caught up with growing consumer demand,” it says, and “organic JAS certified producers in Japan account for only 0.2% of all farmers.” Given this context, in September 2019 the retailer announced another initiative, the new Aeon Organic Alliance (AOA). In a statement, it said this platform will boost the supply of organic products and help farmers overcome the burden of high organic cultivation costs and those incurred due to inefficient distribution, as well as giving them opportunities to gain new skills, exchange information and share and solve issues together. The AOA platform will be used to “centrally manage production, procurement, processing, distribution, and sale of organic agriculture products.”

Organic produce in Bio c’ Bon store in Japan // Credit: Aeon

 

14 new organic stores in Japan

AOA members will also have access to technological know-how for the acquisition of Global G.A.P. and organic JAS certification. Aeon has acquired such expertise via the 20 farms it directly manages across Japan. The farms are operated by the company Aeon Agri Create and three hold organic JAS (Japanese Agricultural Standard) certification, one of which is the fully organic 16 ha Saitama Hidaka Farm. Aeon’s organic farms will serve as distribution bases that collect products from growers who are members of its organic alliance, thus reducing distribution and delivery costs while also facilitating joint purchasing of materials necessary for cultivation, which in turn lowers costs. Furthermore, an AOA website will share what is happening in stores, including customer feedback, product line-ups, and sales performance, as well as overseas trends and other relevant information. It will also serve as a communication platform for connecting producers. Another group subsidiary, Aeon Topvalu, develops Aeon’s private brand for organics, Topvalu Gurinai, which is sold in group stores across Japan. Also providing a sales outlet for organic produce in Japan are the Bio c’Bon stores operated by Aeon in partnership with French firm Bio c’ Bon. There are now 14 such stores in Japan.

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Survey sheds light on Australia’s online grocery shoppers

A third of consumers who buy their groceries online do so because it’s easier than shopping in a physical store.

Australians are curious about the benefits of buying their groceries online, but the majority don’t feel the need to make a permanent transition as they remain content with the current offerings provided by the bricks and mortar stores, reports customer satisfaction research and ratings business Canstar Blue.

Based on a survey of 6,014 Australians, it said consumers often prefer to physically inspect certain grocery items before purchasing them, particularly when it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products and meats.

“However, 42% of the 1,474 adults who have bought groceries online in the last six months said they expect to do the majority of their shopping this way in future. And as online grocery retailers continue to develop their services, it seems a reasonable assumption that more and more consumers will choose to shop this way in the coming years, even if it is only occasionally.”

Of those who had ordered groceries online in the last six months, just one in five choose do all of their shopping this way, Canstar Blue said.

Its research also found:

Who buys their groceries online?

  • women (27%) are more likely than men (21%) to have bought groceries online in the last six months
  • but of those who have done so, men (22%) were more likely than women (18%) to do all of their grocery shopping this way
  • adults aged in their 30s were most likely to have bought groceries online in the last six months (37%), followed by 18-29 year-olds (30%) and consumers in their 40s (29%)

Why people buy groceries online

  • 35% of consumers buy their groceries online because it’s easier than shopping in a physical store
  • 24% struggle to find time to shop in-store
  • 17% believe it’s cheaper buying online
  • 7% don’t like visiting supermarkets
  • the majority of survey respondents (55%) always use the same website when they buy their groceries online, but 36% have tried more than one online grocery store
  • most consumers (64%) are inclined to click onto the website of the supermarket chain they usually buy from in person

What people don’t like about buying groceries online

  • 30% of online shoppers cited delivery costs as the biggest cause of complaint
  • 18% said their greatest issue was receiving replacement items for products that were unavailable
  • 15% found uncertain delivery times their main bugbear

How much people spend when buying groceries online

  • More than half of consumers (58%) said they tend to spend less online than they would if they bought their groceries from a bricks and mortar store.
  • While a previous Canstar Blue survey found consumers spend an average of $138 per week when they buy groceries in-store, the average for respondents in this survey was a $130 spend on their weekly online shop.

“It’s worth remembering, said Canstar Blue, “that buying online arguably makes you less likely to impulse buy other products that perhaps weren’t on your shopping list in the first place. Shopping online could also make you more price-conscious and willing to select a cheaper option if it’s available. You could argue that shopping online allows you to pay closer attention to your spending, when it’s easier to get carried away in store.”

Read the results here: http://www.canstarblue.com.au/retailers/online-grocery/
Online shop image: by Namakkalshowroom (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons