As the UK continually tries to adapt to the current circumstances surrounding the health pandemic, businesses and in particular, retailers, are trying to meet consumer needs.
Due to the lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures put in place by the government, day to day activities such as visiting supermarkets for food and other essentials; has become very different. As a result of that, more consumers have opted for online shopping to purchase their goods.
Visiting a supermarket with the likelihood of queening up before entering or the possibility of empty shelves, supermarkets have experience a significant increase in online orders. As more people order online, the convenient and quick nature of their purchase is likely to see the consumer return to this method post Covid-19, according to Sainsbury’s CEO, Mike Coupe.
“When people get into the habit of ordering their groceries online it’s likely to be sticky,”
Sainsbury’s have had success with their Smartshop application which allows customers to shop using in-store handsets or their own smartphone, now accounts for up to 20% of sales in some stores.
“Almost a third of our sales are now through SmartShop and once you’ve used it once and got used to it I suspect you won’t go back to the usual checkout. Whatever was happening anyway, which was broadly a move towards digital, will probably have been accelerated as a result of the Covid situation as customers get used to a different way of shopping.”
Digital generated £6 billion of sales across the business in the year to 7 March, with online groceries up 7.6% year on year and Tu clothing online up 47% compared to in-store growth of 1.2%
Even though Sainsbury’s like other supermarkets, has had the challenge of in-store social distancing and supply, Mike Coupe believes the Sainsbury’s brand has a “very warm position” in customers’ hearts as they continue to try and do the right things for both staff and customers.
As many businesses continue to ponder which direction to take post-pandemic, Sainsbury’s are predicting returning to “normal grocery conditions” by the second half of the year; seen as very optimistic by analysts.
With the success of Sainsbury’s Smartshop, the brand expect to receive higher demands for home deliveries as the nations worried about ‘overcrowding’ persists. As offline customers will try to continue to go about their normal way of shopping, they may choose to adapt to a new way of shopping.
“Sainsbury’s online grocery operation will certainly be coming under strain as it increases delivery slots, but Sainsbury’s must prepare for more significant, longer-term demand – especially as the likes of Ocado/M&S and Waitrose forge ahead with ambitious online growth plans.”
Lloyds bank recently announced their plans to provide their elderly customers with digital skills training, as well as tablets to help them carry out their day to day needs. Online grocery spend among over-65s has increased by 94% year on year during the coronavirus crisis.