It’s finally happened. M&S have started selling food online. But this isn’t any online debut, this is an M&S online debut.
Rather than try to rival Tesco, Ocado et al, M&S has decided to trial something different – a Deliveroo-style one-hour delivery service for what the retailer terms ‘dinner for tonight’ products.
The move is a smart one. People don’t shop in M&S as they would a Tesco. They don’t do a full weekly shop. They buy a small basket made up of treats or ingredients for a special meal.
In fact, a colleague of mine has a theory that every M&S food shop comes to £30, regardless of what has been purchased.
Given that M&S is seen as a destination for a nice meal for this evening, it makes perfect sense that its competition isn’t Tesco but Deliveroo. It’s a place shoppers go if they want an alternative to a takeaway or a meal out at a restaurant.
M&S’ online launch plays to the ‘want it now’ culture that is prevalent in the UK. We can get everything from taxis to takeaways almost immediately.
M&S isn’t the only grocer vying to meet this need for instant gratification.
Shoppers in central London can get their Tesco purchases within the hour thanks to Tesco Now, while Sainsbury’s is using bicycles to deliver shopping from store to home within an hour in some London postcodes.
“Is the draw of an M&S Dine In meal strong enough to wait the best part of two hours until you can actually eat it?”
However, M&S is entering a very competitive marketplace. There is a plethora of app-based services including Deliveroo, Just Eat, Hungry House and UberEats offering speedy and increasingly high-quality takeaways within the hour.
In fact, one may question if M&S’ one-hour meal delivery is quick enough. An hour is probably the longest most are prepared to wait for a takeaway meal – and M&S’ meals still need to actually be cooked, or at least heated up.
Is the draw of an M&S Dine In meal strong enough to wait the best part of two hours until you can actually eat it?
It would be for me. So please, M&S, bring the trial to Crystal Palace next!