Analysis: Has online grocery missed its golden opportunity?

Ocado DC

As the demand for online grocery deliveries rocketed over the past few weeks, many supermarkets buckled under the pressure. Retail Week looks at whether the inability to meet demand will cause long-term damage to grocery ecommerce.

Over the last few weeks, what in any normal time would have been thought extraordinary has become ordinary. Nowhere has that been more obvious than in food retail, which has become one of the front lines of the coronavirus crisis.

With people limited to one trip outside a day, and some of society’s most vulnerable being advised not to leave their homes for at least 12 weeks to protect themselves from the virus, many have turned to online to buy their groceries.

Even the prime minister pushed shoppers to use the internet, using one of the daily Downing Street briefings to urge people to “use food delivery services where you can”.

Yet, at a time when it’s been needed most, online grocery has struggled to meet this – undoubtedly huge – demand. Delivery slots are booked up for weeks and many who were gearing up to give online food shopping a go for the first time have slammed down their computers in frustration and schlepped back to the local supermarket.

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